2020-06-19 07:30

JS Ondara

(I originally posted this at the group music blog, Just Good Music, on 1 July 2019. But the Indieweb is all about owning your content, so I’m giving it a new home here. Also, I finally bought his first album yesterday and have been listening to it. Really excellent stuff.)

The other night I had reason to hang around the International Arrivals gate at MSP airport for several hours while the person we were waiting for was being hassled by customs agents.

We were sitting near the spot where oversized checked luggage is deposited. A guitar case appeared. Acoustic dreadnought case by the looks of it — sturdy enough to be thrown around the hold of a plane, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Huge stenciled letters along one side: JSONDARA. Soon, a very dapper young man retrieved the case. He wore skinny slacks, short boots, a jacket, fedora. He gathered one or two other items from the nearby carousel and was on his way.

Later, I searched for JSONDARA — which for some reason I had interpreted as an artfully misspelled Jason Dara. Nope: JS Ondara. His website tells me that he’s from Nairobi and that he eventually settled in Minneapolis — because Bob Dylan is from Minnesota.

You can find a selection of videos at his website. (The guitar case from the airport is in the opening shot of the video for Torch Song.) And here’s a spectacular cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit that evokes — and arguably surpasses — Tori Amos’s early and transformative version.

He’s the real thing.


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