Mr. Will’s Favorite Moments of American Music Abroad Tour 2015

Belize

  • I was able to hear steel drums live for the first time ever as performed by a student band.
  • Traded drumsticks with a young drummer, Christian, who took a real interest in my playing and in the Zydeco style of drumming.
  • Had a jam session at Fido’s a local watering hole in San Pedro. I got to play some Brukdown music, the indigenous music of Belize.
  • Had the chance to sit next to Mayor Danny Guerrero of San Pedro at a dinner party.
  • I was able to drive a golf cart for the first time ever in my life!

Panama

  • On our day off, I walked through a nature trail and was able to see the city and skyscrapers from a distance – I was very impressed with the size of the city. I also happened to meet a gentleman from Idaho!
  • When we drove to the Darien Provence, we were able to see many examples of indigenous dance and folk music. While they were dancing in a circle, I asked the translator to ask their drummer to explain the rhythm to me. Not only did he help but three other drummers rushed over to help explain it. After my lesson, one drummer said to the other, “he’s got it now!” I later worked that rhythm into a Mo’ Mojo performance.

Mexico

  • Started my adventure in Mexico by climbing a giant serpent statue in a public park (it was designed to be climbed on). I climbed to the top, which was pretty high!
  • In Veracruz, at our concert, we were joined by a quartet of string musicians and we performed a version of “La Bamba” with them – I used the rhythm I learned from the drummers in Panama during that performance.
  • Later, in Izamal, I loved eating traditional Yucatan food and I got to see the women making fresh tortillas in the stone oven. I also climbed a pyramid in Izamal and I have never seen a city painted in so much yellow. Not sure why, but this was my favorite spot on the trip – maybe because it is supposed to be a mystical city.

Barbados

  • After our big concert at the Errol Barrow Center on Valentine’s Day, we had a great time the next day at the Barbadian Ambassador’s home. Mr. Larry Palmer was very welcoming and congenial. We were able to hang out with local musicians from Barbados as well. That led to a jam session later at a local night club in the Saint Lawrence Gap.
  • On an off day, we went to Harrison’s Cave – it was my first time ever in a cave!
  • I discovered a new beverage – Vita-Malt, a sweet, malt-flavored energy drink.

Colombia

  • I received very loud applause from our concert audience when Jen announced that it was my birthday on February 24th! I was thrilled J
  • In Pereira, I developed a friendship with Carlos, a server at our hotel. I speak very little Spanish so I was trying to use phrases from my book. When he realized I didn’t speak much Spanish he helped me by both of us looking at the book. Every time after that when I returned to the restaurant, he rushed over to help me. When I was checking out, in broken English he wished me well and hoped that that I would come back. I shook and his hand and said “amigos?” to which he replied “si, amigos!”
  • On the street in Manizales, I tried to bargain with the street merchants and had to ask passersby to help with translation. My reward – I came home with a very cool green agate necklace!
  • One of our hosts, Michael Cardena, became a friend as we both bonded over our love for coffee.
  • Cable car ride in Manizales.
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So much to say…so little time.

It’s true. We do have a lot to say. Jen could put it all in her weekly emails, but you might end up putting us in your spam net. With this handy-dandy-not-so-new technology called blogging, you can choose to join us for your entertainment and education whenever you like.

“Wait, did she say ‘education’?”  Why, yes, I did. We will fill a (very small) encyclopedia’s worth of random party trivia about Zydeco, accordions, rubboards, New Orleans, why Joe is always changing guitar strings, who’s listening to what on their cassette player…uh, I mean, Spotify…and all the vegan recipes you can stand. Yes, there are vegans in da house. I won’t say who, but I will say that on all nights there are 3 vegans, some nights there might be 4, and if Jen forgets to tell the venue that we aren’t all vegans, then there are 8…much to the chagrin of at least 4 of us, who will later find a Burger King on the way home.

This will also be the perfect place to recognize our fantastic supporters, fans, followers, and stalkers. Let’s start with Mr. Aaron Petan who was kind enough to provide our new group photo! We look forward to seeing more from Mr. Petan.

So without further adieu…wait…who is Mo’ Mojo, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Mo’ Mojo is Jen Maurer (the fire, the sauce, the heat, the sweet — The Voice!, as well as accordions, guitar, whatever else you put in her hands), Davidione Pearl (vocals, red hot sax, smokin’ rubboard, and a cowbell that makes Christopher Walken gasp for more), Leigh Ann Wise (that’s me – singing some harmony, rubbin’ some board, bangin’ the equilateral, and blowin’ some horn), Joe Golden (yes, that really is his last name, and yes, he AND his Les Paul are GOLDEN…so are his off-color remarks, a collection of which will be in a later blog), Darren Thompson (he may be the quiet one in the back, but have you heard that bass?! He can make ya swang that thang!), Rod Lubline (the man who drives our bus…rhythmically speaking, that is…he lays down the beat that everyone else gets to hang their skills upon), Sam Rettman (he’s our harp man, he’s one of our sax men, and he’s definitely our main man…because he brings the mains every single time…and the sound board…and a bunch of instruments and cords…and…the list goes on), and, our newest member, Mister Anthony Papaleo (don’t let his shy demeanor fool you…he’s white-hot on guitar, a tasty 6-string complement to our guilded Golden-boy, plus he’s got that fiddle…whew…that fiddle!). 

So where was I? Oh yes. Your vegan recipe.

Gumbo Z
from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen

(While this recipe calls for 4 different kinds of greens, I usually make it with 2 bunches of kale and 2 bunches of collards. Serve it over brown rice.)

Ingredients

Coarse sea salt 
1 large bunch mustard greens, chopped 
1 large bunch collard greens, chopped 
1 large bunch kale, chopped 
1 large bunch spinach, chopped
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
7 garlic cloves, minced 
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour 
2 large yellow onions, diced 
2 large red bell peppers, diced 
2 celery ribs, halved and chopped 
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
6 cups vegetable stock 
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme 
1 teaspoon filé powder 
1 tablespoon “hot” apple cider vinegar
2 large scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

 

Nutrition Facts

Per serving: 306 calories, 19 g fat (3 g saturated), 29 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 8 g fiber, 754 mg sodium (33% Daily Value).

Directions

1. In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. 

2. Add leafy greens to the boiling water and cook uncovered for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and cool. Transfer greens to a cutting board and chop well. 

3. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté garlic until golden. Add the greens, raise the heat to high, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until well coated with oil. Set aside. 

4. In a large pot over low heat, combine the flour and the remaining olive oil and cook, stirring often, until caramel colored, about 25 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, cayenne pepper, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Raise the heat to medium and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 15 minutes. Slowly stir in the vegetable stock. Add the reserved greens, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until greens are tender, about 45 minutes. 

5. Stir in the thyme and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the filé and the hot apple cider vinegar, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

 
Well folks, that wrap up this first edition of…oh wait. Boy, there IS a lot to say. I almost forgot my riveting interview with our fearless and tireless leader, Jen Maurer. So…
 
THE INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER MAURER, MO’ MOJO EXTRAORDINAIRE
LA: What music are you – Jen Maurer, Mo’ Mojo leader – listening to these days?
JM: Lake Street Dive! The voice of voices and a chick bassist. What’s not to love?
 
And that concludes our interview.
 
Peace, Love, & Accordion.