Listen Up / April 2011

Who to see and what to hear in April.

by Todd Coder

Todd on his honeymoon

As I write this month’s column, I am returning home from a two-week, delayed honeymoon. Our journey took us halfway around the world. While spending part of our time in Europe (Amsterdam was our first stop and Paris was our last), the most memorable portion of the trip was the week that we spent in South Africa. The county is too amazing for me to appropriately describe, but I will attempt to do it some justice.

Spending time in Europe was a great way to bookend our stay in South Africa. While abroad, we had the opportunity to attend a few concerts. Ben Folds played the Paradiso in Amsterdam and the Black Keys performed at the Olympia in Paris. It was unique to see how audiences respond to American artists on European soil. Once I settled in to each show, I felt right at home; almost as if I was back in the States. Yet another testament as to how music is truly a universal language.

The day after the Ben Folds concert, it was time for our 11–hour flight to Johannesburg. We landed late on the night of March 8, spent the night by the airport and hopped a short flight the next morning to Joedspruitt. The shuttle from the airport featured sightings of giraffes, zebras, kudus and impalas. This was all prior to our arrival at Ezulwini Game Lodges –

During our stay, we tracked and spotted all of the Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard) in addition to the others that make up the Big Seven (crocodile and hippo). The encounters are closer than you can imagine and fairly intense. We had a pride of lion come within a few feet our vehicle, at one point we were surrounded by water buffalo and on more than one occasion, had an elephant trumpeting in our direction. We also stumbled upon scorpions, warthogs, jackals, monkeys, and the deadliest snake in South Africa, the Black Mamba.

We expected amazing encounters with the South African wildlife. But it was the beauty of the area and the interaction with the people of South Africa that really made our trip so special and memorable. We had two incredible guides that led us on our journeys: Greg McCall-Peat and Jo Cooper. I had the opportunity to talk to them about their history in the bush, their “in the field experiences” and their musical tastes and interest.  I hope that you find their answers and stories as entertaining as I did.

How did you get started as a game guide?

Greg: I was brought up in the bush.  My mother was in the industry and I pretty much spent any holiday or weekend in the bush…so from a very young age, I knew this is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.

Jo: I’ve always loved outdoors, surfing, camping, etc so I knew that I wanted to make a career out of it. I took a year after school to think about what I wanted to study and I found a one year course for FGASA (Field Guides Association of South Africa).  It was a class that featured studying in the middle of the bush, to be a guide, so I did it…and life is amazing.

Explain a few of your most exciting or dangerous experiences that have occurred while you have been in the bush.

Greg: A year ago I was tracking cheetah on foot with my tracker when we came across lions on a kill. A lioness charged us but stopped and retreated back. Then we saw a big male lion coming towards us…and this is where it all went wrong. The golden rule is never to run because then you become the prey; we should have stood our ground. However, my tracker pushed me toward the lion and ran. Now I am thinking that if lions run at an impala herd and one stands still, then that’s the one who will get eaten. So I ran too as I saw it as my only chance to escape. As I was running I could only think that I shouldn’t be doing this and that there is no way that I could outrun a lion. I could hear the lion’s breathing as he was running behind me. He chased me for about 50m when he stopped; I think too full from his kill to put in the full effort. All I know is that he was close; I’m lucky to have gotten away with my life.

Jo: We were about 2 km away from camp and ran straight into three sleeping male lions. At first they weren’t too fazed by our presence. They slept a bit more, and then started to yawn. Suddenly one of the youngsters got up, took a few steps towards us, then starting growling. When he did this, we immediately started slowly backing off from them. We hadn’t even taken two steps backwards, when the big dominant male charged at us. We had three rifles with us…but you only shoot as a last resort. He stopped charging about four meters in front of us, but as he pulled away, the two youngsters came at us…but they also pulled away at about 4 meters from us. This went on for about 20 minutes, and we were backing off the whole time, but they kept coming. The guys at the camp heard the commotion, and came to rescue us. But on the way, they got stuck in the river bed. This delayed them for about ten minutes. Eventually they got to us. And as we drove away, the three lions were sitting there in a row; watching us as we left. It was an unbelievable, unforgettable experience.

What kind of music do you listen to while on game drives and back at the lodge?

Greg: Bob Marley, Xavier Rudd, and a couple of our South African bands like Just Jinjer and the Parlotones. I also really enjoy rock music like Breaking Benjamin and Metallica. I recently have been listening to a lot of didgeridoo music…all very chilled.

Jo: I listen to Greg’s music while I am here, but if I had my own music here, it would be a lot of African Tribal, Psychedelic Trance, Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, AC/DC, Uriah Heep, etc.  I love the old school vibes and listen to a lot of “chillaxin” music.

Do you like any specific artists from the States?

Greg: I do enjoy American music. Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nickleback. I mainly enjoy the American rock side of things.

Jo: Yes, I listen to a lot of current American music. Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson, and John Mayer to name a few.

Have you ever been to a concert?

Greg: I have only been to two music concerts. The first one has to be the highlight. It was called the Coca-Cola Fest and featured Metallica. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Metallica themselves after I took them on safari. It was an unforgettable and awesome experience and I don’t think any other concert will ever match up to that.

Jo: I saw Robbie Williams a few years ago. I got a free ticket. It was really cool and I dug the vibe a lot.

The time that we shared with Greg and Jo and the rest of the people at Ezulwini will never be forgotten. It was an amazing experience that has changed our lives forever. South Africa is a natural wonder that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives. I hope that we return sometime soon.

Now let’s see what’s coming to a music venue near you in April…

Citizen Cope

Citizen Cope: Always a great show with a tremendous reggae, funk vibe. Cope brings his solo show

to the WorkPlay Soundstage and it’s sure to sell out. Get your tickets now.

Thursday, April 8 – WorkPlay Soundstage –

Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo:

Alejandro has been through many ups and downs, both personally and professionally.

However, he continues to write incredible music and his live show is always impressive.

He’s bringing a full band with him so expect a louder than usual performance; and that’s a good thing.

Sara Bareilles

Wednesday, April 20 – Sara Bareilles at WorkPlay Theatre –

During the success of her 2007 release, Little Voice and specifically the single, Love Song, Sara Bareilles’ popularity blossomed quickly.

Her latest release, Kaleidoscope Heart is a more than suitable followup, but oddly has not received quite the critical acclaim of her previous effort.

Last time through, Sara performed at the Alabama Theatre but this month, she’ll provide a more intimate experience for her audience by returning

to the WorkPlay Soundstage for one night only.

Amos Lee

Cee Lo Green, Weezer and Stone Temple Pilots are just a few of the big names to perform at the 2011 Crawfish Boil. Expect two days of hot weather, cold beer and tons of crawfish.

Friday, April 30 and May 1 – BJCC Parking Lot

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