A day of recovery, sweating on the couch, waiting, with what seems like most of Kisumu, for today's vicious sun to pass.
Ozzy and I recorded Brio's new band practicing at the center for the afternoon, a chilled out jam session. I'll have some audio and video soon.
Afterward, we went, along with Joann, to Brio's place in Nyalenda, burned jiko in the dark, and listened to...Kenny Rogers. Yes indeed, late at night in all your favorite Kenyan ghettos, hip young rastafaris are sitting in the dark singing Kenny Rogers' back catalog while bewildered white boys try to salvage what they can of their shattered cultural conceptions. Joann told me about how old country reminds her of her parents, and brings back the memories. I talked to Brio about wild dreams of putting on a Kenny Rogers concert at Nairobi stadium. He assured me that it would sell out, and that he would go. Realizing the extent of country music's reach in Kenya was like uncovering an old friend's secret talent. Except, not really a talent.
We all walked through the dark back to the main road. Unlike other times I'd been out in this sparsely electrified part of town after dark, I realized I could see the ditches and potholes in the dirt road in front of me. I looked up--we were illuminated by the moon. The vibe in Nyalenda was changed--normally empty and slightly ominous, the narrow paths were now busy with people, large cooking fires, and kids. I remembered an ongoing email conversation with my friend/guru in Jersey about nature and the larger role it seems to play in your life when you have less material things, and really loved what the moon was doing for the place. Brio, who is currently researching Luo migration patterns when he's not making jewelry and jamming Rogers, came up and said "On nights like this, the ancestors would be out by the fire playing music for everyone." Kenny Rogers and Luo ancestors, it's killing me.
We arrived home expecting Emma, firmly into day 2 of her malaria spell, to be asleep in bed. Instead, she was sitting on the couch waiting..."Please let's go out, I can't be in the house all day!" Uh, you have malaria? No, she had to go. At the same time I got a call from Dave, the producer at Starlink, about a great bongo band that had just come to town. He wanted to introduce me to them at a nearby club/bar. So again, out the door.
By the time we got there the band was gone, but the beer and music weren't, and there was a table with a bunch of our friends. Gillgucci, one of the rappers from Total Vibez, and Dave from Starlink, joined us, and it was on. One catch...it was karaoke night. For the second time in just a few hours, I was assaulted by Kenyan reinterpretations of American pop culture casualties; in turns unsettling and glorious. Ozzy sang Lionel Richie's classic "Hello" and I thought of my sister, who is always moved to tears by the stirring music video (just kidding, you should see it). Someone did a song from USA for Africa, a couple 3 Doors Down tracks came up, a large man completely butchered "My Name Is" by Eminem, but did a good job imitating his nasally American accent, and finally, a SECOND person did Richie's "Hello." It was 4 am before we realized we were starving and the bar was empty.
And that's how we ended up eating 5 am leftover goat meat with our hands in a tin shack in Kondele. All drunk food is not created equal. We're going to 3 concerts tonight, and it's time to leave the house.