Mdungu On The Road

Mdungu was on tour in China, Hong Kong and Korea fall of 2011. Below some of the adventures of the band, originally published on FunkiMag.

BLOG #6 "The ever present company of Fred the Dog" by Thijs
Blog, Seoul, 2nd october 2011.

The evening concert in Korea at the Jarasum Festival was fantastic. Ruben got a pair of chimes along with the rented congas and timbales and he knows how much i hate he decided to put them in every distasteful spot that he could find during the gig with a result of cracking me up every time i heard them. Some inside jokes to keep us going even after a 12 day tour. The audience was fantastic. singing and dancing alone to every move we made and giving back such a great energy! Straight after the gig we did some more cd, poster, t-shirt signing and we were off again on our way back to Hong Kong.

After another night of traveling we found ourselves playing the Hong Kong Jazz Festival. This festival has the greatest skyline in the world as a backdrop and Hong Kong by night is quite a sight to see from the stage. At this point Ruben found out that the heavy touring was breaking him up badly with hardly no energy left to play the shekere anymore which seemed to become heavier and heavier every song. Somewhere halfway through our set Ruben found out that the shekere was still filled with his socks and underwair from the travel which after removing them played much better! So kids, never forget to take your underwair out of your instrument before you play!
After the show we had one more day in Hong Kong which we spent shopping for instruments, handbags (Ebou), dragons and postcards. The last evening we were invited by a group of Hong Kong Netherlands lovers to play some songs and to meet them. This night it was Benoits birthday so the birthday cake they arranged was a welcome surprise for him. After the party we went straight for the airport to catch the flight back to Amsterdam. Benoit tried his best to get an upgrade because it was his birthday, but didn't succeed.

Now we're back in Holland, looking back on meeting great people, dancing with hundreds of Chinese and Koreans, seeing our band picture on a hugh billboard on a skyscraper, eating great food and indefinable food, solving Rubens cube and the ever present company of Fred the Dog. Our first Asia tour ever was a blast, and we certainly hope it won't be the last!

Read our sixth blogpost, "The ever present company of Fred the Dog" on FunkiMag!


BLOG #5 "Rubens Cube" by Benoit & Merijn
Blog, Seoul, 2nd october 2011.

Last night we traveled from Shenzhen to Hong Kong and flew from Hong Kong to Seoul, South Korea. We arrived in pitch dark and drove in a bus for 2 hours to inland Korea, to a place called Jarasum, which means Turtle Island. It was this morning we woke up and could first see the beautiful place we had arrived in. A lot colder than China, but also sun, green mountains and lakes all over. Here we play two shows today!

Here we are now sitting at the backstage of the Jarasum jazz festival waiting to play our second show today ar the party stage! (a very convenient stage for Mdungu) Left of our backstage container is the one of Tower of Power, on the right is the one from Kurt Rosenwinkel! We're still looking for Kurt although we've spotted him at lunch already where we had fantastic Korean food!

Our first show in Korea was an early afternoon set on the Festival Lounge stage with people sitting in the grass, occasionally getting up and dancing. After that show we signed a lot of autographs and had pictures taken with the Korean fans :). Korea is really a great place; We have a big bus with discolights, single rooms in the hotel (we were happy to have some alone-time) fantastic food and great people!

The band had a small personel change; Coen 'The Coon' Kaldeway replaces Job today and tomorrow in Hong Kong! He's a regular guest at Mdungu cock, we really miss Job but it's alway good to play with The Coon! The band is still doing fine; Ruben is still trying to finish the Rubiks cube but by now we call it the Rubens cube. Benoit worked on his health and rode a bicycle on stage. Frank stopped practicing guitar, but he really misses it...

2 hours later...

We managed to find Kurt and he's kicking ass right now. Benny got real inspired by Kurts drummer Justin. Another major event was Rubik finishing the Rubens cube! We slowly get in a playing mood again for our midnight partyshow :). This festival is huge, and although it's cold, it's freaking hot! ;-)

Again 2 hours later....

The show at the party stage went bananas! Great crowd in Korea! now we're back on the bus heading to the airport again: no sleep till Hong Kong! Tomorrow our last gig of the Asia tour on the Hong Kong Jazz Festival.

Read our fifth blogpost, "Rubens Cube" on FunkiMag!


BLOG #4 "Zhezhe, baybay" by Job
Blog, Shenzhen, 29th september 2011.

The part of Shenzen where we are based, is a cultural neighbourhood. Artists, writers and musicians come here from all over China and the rest of the world. The two owners of a very nice bookshop organise the OCT Loft Jazzfestival. Shenzen is incredibly big and modern. After not eating breakfast in the hotel because it looked and smelled awful, I took a cab to the sea. Had a nice walk, it was very hot and humid.
At three we had to be at the soundcheck but before, I got David from his room to have lunch together so I had duck, while David feasted himself with tiny fish, seasoned with shrimps.
Being on tour this week brought us to get to know some other touring bands as well like Busconi from Switzerland. We keep on meeting them in hotellobbys and we tell each other where the good and bad restaurants are. Also I recall Ruben say to me "I am only eating this week, it is time to go jogging or swimming or so!". Well, it really looks like that. From one restaurant to the other and sometimes (actually just two until now) a show to play.

Yesterday we played at the Shenzen/ Oct Loft Jazz Festival. After one song David asked the seated audience to stand up and dance. They did immediately alltogether and this was the beginning of a highly energetic evening: screaming girls, crowds on the stage while we played "Armee Guineènne" and an encore with an ecstatic saxophone solo by Thijs which seemed to last forever!

After the show it rained cats and dogs because it turned out that a tropical typhoon was nearing the Shenzen regions, but that didn't stop us from having a great afterparty at the bookshop. Shamefully the planned Guangzhou show of today has been cancelled (today, bit of a short notice!!!), so we have an unvolentary day off.
Still we have lots of rain from the typhoon, which luckily decided not to come too close. This made most of the band decide to go and take a look at one of the famous malls in Shenzen. I took a bus to HongKong where I am now in my hotel on the 19th floor, since I will proceed this tour with my other band, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band. Coen Kaldewaij has just jumped on the plane to play my parts in the next show in Korea on Saturday.

A big, BIG thanks-word is going out to all my brothers in Mdungu and also to Jantien aswell as all other people who organised this unforgettable week in South-China! I will be looking forward to next adventures on the Mdungu-blog :-)
Zhezhe, baybay.



Eindelijk uit de tas. Geen idee waar ik ben. Alleen maar lichtjes en lawaai. Als de baas maar weet wat ie aan het doen is, want ik vertrouw het voor geen cent.
O wacht volgens mij gaat ie herrie maken met z'n medebaasjes.
En ik moet heel nodig m'n poot luchten.
Dit dinges ruikt trouwens geweldig.......
Zo dat lucht snel nog even typen op die zwart glimmende doosjes. Want ik hoor dat de baas bijna klaar is.
Dat is gek zijn ze net klaar gaan ze nog een keer Het voer is super er zitten botten in en volgens mij een stuk of tien beesten die ik nog nooit gehad heb.

Read our fourth blogpost, "Zhezhe, baybay" on FunkiMag!


BLOG #3 by "Arrival in Shenzen" Benoit and Merijn
Blog, Shenzhen, 27th september 2011.
Today we arrived in Shenzhen and it was so nice to see all these coconut and banana trees. It's even hotter here then it was in Zhuhai and Ebou nearly feels like back in Gambia.
Yesterday we really enjoyed our last day in Zhuhai doing some shopping and eating at a very local place. We might have eaten an unidentified animal, but it was delicious. Frank spent most of the day practicing. Ruben took a swim in the hotel swimming pool (something Merijn and me did this morning) while David slept most of the day. A tour can be tiring, more then people realize. While shopping Ebou, Merijn, Ruben and me ended up jamming in a musicstore.

Zhuhai nightlife was fuckin' awesome. I'm wondering if anyone really sleeps more than a couple of hours a day. I always love to see the cities we play at night. We've successfully ordered ourselves a beer, or a ball but I got a beer anyway. Chinese language is hard! The difference between beer and ball is so small I don't even hear it ;)

It's also amazing to order a beer and get a full plate of fruit with it. We definitely should import this in Holland!
And then this morning it was good-bye to Zhuhai. Just before leaving our 5star hotel the mirror in Ebou's room fell off the least that's what Ebou says. He doesn't seem to be the vandalizing type so we and the hotelcrew believed the mystery.

Today we travelled by private-coach (or minibus) and it was good to see some countryside and a bit scary to see how people drive here. Again Ebou felt really home as the driving is quite African style. No one stops at the zebras and David got a bit upset about that allthough it's not much better in Amsterdam at times. Our hotel is a bit of a downgrade (from 5 stars in Zhuhai to 3 stars here) but we seem to be in a quite modern area, a bit western like. Here you pay double the price for a meal. But nevertheless, the food is delicious.
This afternoon Ebou and David had a little walk in the streets, while some of us took a nap. Merijn and me watched a Nirvana concert on TV. Now we are sitting at the venue of our show tomorrow and have the pleasure of seeing Eric Vloeimans' Gatecrash. Fantastic band, we really enjoy it. Our plan for our own show tomorrow is to get all the people standing up and dancing (everyone is sitting here) and I think it might be very doable.
China rocks.

Love from the whole band...en tot morgen!

Read our third blogpost, "Arrival in Shenzen" on FunkiMag!


BLOG #2 "Gig number 1" by MERIJN
Blog, Zhuhai, 26th september 2011
Yesterday was gig number 1! Felt really good to do some working after all the hanging around and partying ;) In the morning we had our soundcheck which took a bit longer than we'd hoped but in the end things worked out. We had some lunch at the venue before returning to the hotel. I ended up sleeping for nearly the whole day, until we had to leave for the show. Partying hard is definitely exhausting, so I figured I'd better get some energy saved up! We opened the show with my tune, Nyabinghi, for the first time which worked great. It was awesome watching Benny go on by himself while we slowly built up the groove, entering the stage one by one.
After Nyabinghi we played various old and new tunes, all with the trademark Mdungu energy! Girls were screaming when David took off his soaking wet shirt. :) After the show we signed CDs, flyers, posters, people and even iPhones! What a great audience, the people here in Zhuhai! We did an interview for the media, also some from Macau. It was a great opening of the tour, tomorrow we leave for Shenzen, and another chapter starts!

Today we had a little trip around the city with Benoit, Ruben Ebou and me. A bit of shopping and we had lunch in a very dodgy place. Ebou (who is muslim) goes through great lenghths to explain he doesn't eat pig, only cow. Imitations of cows are a regular appearance when ordering food! ;) In the end, I was pretty sure we ate 'something' that wasn't pig, but it wasn't cow either..

Benoit bought some drumsticks because he thought he lost them all already ;) we played some music in the store, which sadly didn't have basses so I just played some guitar. Also we got a nice demonstration of a traditional Chinese instrument. We had another great dinner, again using sign language and pictures to get what we wanted. Afterwards we went to some clubs with insanely loud music and personal assistants. I almost danced again ;) Oh. And I bought an electric dog.

Read our second blogpost, "Gig number 1" on FunkiMag!


BLOG #1 Zhuhai, 24th September 2011, by Benoit Martiny

Today some of us had to relax quite a bit to digest yesterday`s adventure.

After an 11 hour flight from Amsterdam to Hong Kong, a 4 hour waiting period at the airport before boarding a 40 minute boatride to Zhuhai, some of Mdungus' very energetic bandmembers still went to take a dive into Chinese nightlife.
It all started after our first Chinese dinner (and yes, the food here IS different then in Rotterdams Chinese restaurants) when somebody said: "Hey guys, let`s go and have a little look what is happening on the Jazzfestival we are going to play on Sunday". Most of us were too tired to go and so went to have a little walk around the hotel-area, but Job, David, Merijn, me (Benoit) and of course Frank took the challenge.

And so Gerand, our very nice volunteer-guide-girl got us some taxis and off we went. The festival is indeed quite nice: nice music, nice people and nice hot temperatures..... We met some people who suggested to take us out to the Cuban bar and... off we went. By now Job was tired enough and went back to the hotel and I guess the rest of us were in a good enough mood to party on. The band at the Cuban bar was fantastic (Alex, an old buddy from conservatory times was playing the trumpet...the world IS small) and even Merijn took a dance. 
After a couple of hours, one of our new acquaintences suggested to go to the Karaoke bar......and off we went. We got to a place which had rent-out private Karaoke rooms and some British guy was celebrating his birthday (I think his name was Andrew). By now I started to be annoyed to be surrounded only by Europeans and Americans, so I was happy when everyone decided to go to the local disco just around the corner.
Now this was quite a place: here the party was definitely on and I realized that China is also in partying far ahead of Europe or the States. There was a stage on which very good-looking  girls danced and sang, and every table had a set of dice and people seemed to play some sort of drinking game..... my memory unfortunately fades from the moment Frank and I got each a huge glass of whiskey with the bartender saying "Welcome to China".

This would have been the moment to actually go home. By now we didn't sleep for about 40 hours...... but that is just what makes Mdungu such a great band: there is always enough energy to totally go crazy and party all night. The Rock `n`Roll in Mdungu.
Unfortunately Rock `n` Roll has its price and waking up this morning in Rubens bed (although I am actually supposed to share a room with Thijs) with quite a headache reminded me that alcohol is still the world`s most dangerous yet socially accepted drug. So kids, don`t forget, you don`t need to drink to party. Just party.
Talking about the dangers of alcohol: tomorrow, the day of our first gig in China, is the 31st deathday of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin`s great drummer, who died after a drinking binge. So my playing will be dedicated not only to the people of China but also to Bonham.

Today our biggest success was ordering food in a restaurant without speaking the language. We didn't exactly get what we thought we had ordered, but nevertheless the food was fantastic. So until now China is a really great place to be.

Good night 

For pictures check our Facebook page.