At the weekend I had the great pleasure of seeing once again my friend Miserable Man, who has been away for what feels like absolutely ages. In actual fact he was on a six month acoustic busking tour of Asia, as anyone who has been following his fascinating updates on his blog or Facebook page will be aware. He was about the only person at Cow Tower for the festival there who was still feeling cold, despite layers and layers of clothing, as he is still missing the tropical sun!
[edit: I have since seen the promo video and the accompanying images are exactly what the music had conjured in my head, as described above!]
He was telling me about his latest project, the album download Afronesia (Soundscapes from the Wallace Line). Perfectly titled as it captures some mood of Asia and Africa, sparse and with beautiful guitar work, some lovely slide, and even the background sounds from the location.
Anyone who has seen him happily busking his unique brand of ‘popsteady’ doing his reggae and pop covers may be slightly surprised on first hearing of this album. It is very pared down, spacious, and quite slow, most becoming of the area I suspect. It starts with some tropical thunder and then the mellow, plucked acoustic guitar strings are heard, and even a few crowing cockerels. One cannot help thinking of white sandy beaches and coconut trees with nearby bush and a tropical way of life.
Whilst chatting he told me about a turtle sanctuary he visited and his wish to help (Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary). And thus was this idea for an album born, with all proceeds going towards feeding the Gili Meno Sea Turtles. Having visited a similar place in Sri Lanka some years ago, I am aware of the great work such people do and how desparately they need the funding.
It is great testament to the big-hearted Miserable Man that he was not only so touched but moved enough to try and make a difference. I immediately downloaded the album and am listening as I write. There are still moments of trademark MM on tracks such as “Your Embrace”, sounding quite beautiful. “Tenga Hari” sounds like Paris, Texas era Ry Cooder.
Miserable Man may seem like an ironic name, to anyone who has seen this guy play, and the way he seems to be able to connect with absolutely anyone, rarely have I seen such a heart who just loves all that is good in the world and sees the best in people. He may be, as he desribes, “a skinny white guy from Italy” but he has a big rasta spirit and a sensitivity to the beautiful things in life. I am glad he is now doing what he wants to do, and he is making a lot of people a little happier in the daily life. The power of music. Catch him busking in Norwich while he is here for the summer months, and buy his CDs.
A very talented man, who makes great music, and although he doesn’t talk about it much, he is also a superb photographer.
Download the album here: http://miserablemanmusic.bandcamp.com/
and read about his travels here: http://miserablemanmusic.wordpress.com/
and about the sea turtles here: http://gilimenoturtles.com/
words and photos by richard shashamane