Lome (capital of Togo), Sunday 9th January, I’m finding an empty bar where I was suppose to meet up with few musicians for an evening of blues. Quickly a waiter is informing me that the gig had been cancelled. And so will the followings. The reason, as I will learn it later on that evening, is that the police came two days before during a jam session, stopping the music and taking the bar owner to the police station due to ‘noise complaint’. ‘Noise complaint, from a bar running a gig of jazz, you’ve got to be kidding’ is my first thought. ‘You see, explains Serge – one of the musician leaders in Lome-, they –aka the authorities- have closed the only place we could play in town for bullshit reasons. What can I say to my musicians? Just got to Europe’.
But is that really the solution?
Rhetorical question of course. Yes you will find jam sessions in Paris, London or Rome, where you’ll be able to meet up with other musicians and probably be able to play one song per session. ‘One song?’ ask Jeremy, a talented 18 years-old autodidact bass player. Yes of course, there are lots of amateurs in Europe who come to jam sessions looking for nothing more than the opportunity to play one song. Just because you’re in Bristol or Berlin does not mean you’ll be part of a band straight away, getting music lessons or go on tours. And unfortunately this has little to do with how good or hard-worker you are. And what will happen for the rest of the week? In a cold weather, in a time where things aren’t as easy as they might have been, facing an unfortunate but growing feeling of individualism among some Europeans?
If neighbour’s grass always looks greener, at the end of the day, home is home. And by some aspects things are easier in Togo: weather’s more clement, you can get a bite for next to nothing and there is a warm sense of family and community to open a door and share a roof; so the solution is about changing what’s not working where you are –ok, easy to say, not that easy to make it happen-. But possible. Take example of the Ouagalab, or of the Jazzamba in Addis Abeba. And the beauty of our time is that we’ve got internet, an amazing opportunity to be in touch with the global community to support your local initiatives – non, non, I’m not overselling Bustle Music….’course I am, cause it is a great project-. Moreover always more young Westerners are looking for opportunities to put more meaning in their life. And they are curious, full of ideas and energy. Connect and INVITE them to come and do projects with you.
You see, I’m wondering: what would have happened in that bar when the police came, if some Europeans would have been jamming with locals that night?