When I last checked in I had just found out that I will be moving to Baranquilla, Colombia this summer to serve as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer for one year. At the time I was short on details because I didn’t have them all. To that end, I just finished participating in a three-day Transfer Conference in Praia with eight other volunteers who will be moving on to different countries this summer. The point of the conference was to prepare us for our new assignments and to help us transition smoothly out of our lives and work here in Cape Verde. It’s a little more complicated than it sounds, because between the nine of us, we are headed to four different countries (Benin, Colombia, Namibia, and Togo). On top that, there are thirteen other volunteers that are transferring to Moçambique and one that will be staying in Cape Verde to work. Despite some unanswered questions, the conference was helpful, and at least I now have a confirmed date for when I will start work in Colombia: June 19th. I still don’t know exactly when I’ll be leaving Cape Verde, but it is soon enough to have me thinking hard about how I want to spend my last days here.
As I mentioned before, I was slow to locate a piano in-country, but I finally did last month. Since then I’ve been studying with Professor Cachimbo at the Escola Municipal de Musica.* When I first knocked on the door I didn’t have any concrete plans, other than to make sure I sat down at the piano and played for at least an hour once a week. Well, Cachimbo has more than obliged. He asked me to sit down and play something, then he invited me to come in twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays, for one hour. After my first Friday session he said, “see you on Monday.” When I pointed out that Mondays would make it three times a week, his response was something along the lines of, “I know.” So I showed up the following Monday for my second lesson in Cape Verdean music. Halfway through the session, Cachimbo suggested that form a group and have a performance... O.K., sounds good to me! At the end of the next session he asked me to come at 4pm next time, instead of 5pm, so that we could have more time to play. Then, at the following session he announced that we would be recording soon... OK, also sounds good to me! So, just to recap, my one-hour lessons have grown into six hours a week with a concert and a recording around the corner. Luckily, I’m on the all-you-can-eat plan, so I’m still paying the original monthly fee of 2,000 CVE ($25.00 US).
Now I can finally say that playing music is a priority in my life (once again). For so many reasons I let that part of me slip away, or get buried in the chaos that comes with integrating into a new country, and into a new group of colleagues and friends. Two years ago I wrote an entry called “Why I’m Not On Tour” in the wake of the Tiger Woods scandal. In it, I tried to explain how and why I came to the point in my life where I no longer wanted to present myself as a musician, despite the fact that music is such a personal, and important aspect of who I am. I still feel the same way for the most part, but I do feel like I’ve taken it too far to the extreme since I’ve been in Cape Verde. After seven months here, I can count on my fingers the number of people here who have heard me play or perform, or have listened to anything I’ve recorded. True, I still want people to know me before they know my music... but at the end of the day, I do want them to listen.
Playing piano every week has given me the swift kick in the ass that I needed, and recently I’ve been more open and excited about sharing that side of me with my friends. I even found myself free-styling at the dinner table earlier this week... that felt good. With that feeling in mind, I want to share a video from my last concert in California. A while back I posted a low-fi bootleg audio recording of the performance, but now I have the concert DVD with visuals and the good quality sound. So, PLEASE click on the following link to...
If all goes as planned I will have some new music to share with you before I leave Cape Verde. Until then, thank you for reading, and thank you for listening.**
* Municipal Music School
** If you enjoyed this post, or the video, or if you just feel sorry for me, the please click here to "like" my music page on Facebook.