Strange Famous Records

Fancy Fran and the South African Fam (2015)

As I embark upon the last leg of what has turned into an eighteen month tour, I realize I’ve only shared scraps of what I’ve experienced this past year. During the big moments I feel inspired to share each story in total detail, but by the time I settle down I’m either too exhausted or busy to type it all out. I suppose that’s why I’m a songwriter instead of a blogger. My songs are not linear play-by-play accounts of what I experience on any given day. Often they’re composite sketches of experiences I’ve had some time to reflect upon as I try to make sense of the big picture. Well, whoopty-frickin’-doo. Heh. A lot of memories get lost in that process. As much as we believe we’ll never forget the precious stuff, time fades the brain. Maybe that’s why our culture has become so picture-crazed. Photos help transport us to specific moments and they help us remember the sights, sounds, scents, etc… I should take more of them, but they never really tell the full story.

As many of you know, I was invited to South Africa in 2011 to partake in a program that was meant to assist HIV+ orphans receive treatment. That trip didn’t turn out to be anything like I thought it would be, and I’ve never been able to properly explain what I witnessed during that period, but I made a strong connection to one particular group of kids. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with them over time with the great help of my Durban friends, Ewok & Karen. I felt ill-equipped to take on the macro problems (some of which I address in the “Water Into Wine” song,) but Ewok has been instrumental in helping me focus on accomplishing smaller goals — many of which were tackled through the “Ubuntu” fundraiser that I organized once I returned home. With the generosity of your donations, we were able to fix the roof of the kids’ home, purchase bunk beds so they didn’t all have to share the same bed, and we were able to get them things like clothes, school supplies, and food with the remainder of the funds.

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When I shared my goodbyes with the kids that first time around, I promised them that I’d return. “Probably next year,” I said. Once the van drove them away, I stepped behind a building to shield myself from the sight of others. Had a little breakdown that day. Had a fair share of breakdowns ever since. I’ve been haunted by many things I witnessed during that first trip, and, yeah — maybe all of this is coming across as melodramatic. Well, la-di-frickin’-da. Heh. I need to keep writing before it all goes away. For now I’ll spare you a bunch of details and skip forward to 2015…

The only break in my tour schedule was during August, so I purchased a flight to South Africa even though I had been unable to lock down a single show in the past 3 years. Thanks to the help of some quick-acting promoters I was able to get gigs in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The main purpose of my trip, however, was to reunite with the kids and make good on an old promise. When I was finally able to visit them at their home, it was clear that they tried to look as fancy as possible. Adorable, adorable, adorable. Hair all made up, faces all made up, clothes all crisp and freshly laundered. It was like a little fashion show. I’m not sure I looked any different than I did four years prior, and it’s possible I appeared a bit disheveled after all the traveling I had done. They didn’t hold it against me.

Ntokozo, the first of the kids who I made a special connection to in 2011, is 15 years old now and beautiful as ever. When I asked what she’s interested in doing once she’s out of school, she said that she wants to be a singer and an actress. “I’m not shy,” she proclaimed. This is true. I saw her own the stage during a theater performance the first time I visited Durban. When I asked her what songs she likes to sing she didn’t answer. When I asked again, she turned her head away from me as tears streamed down her cheek. It was such a sudden change of mood from the cheerful vibe I’d been enjoying up until that moment. I became concerned that I was being invasive or insensitive somehow. When I asked her what was wrong she said, “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” Ah. Straight dagger to the heart. Trying to explain why it took so long for me to return wasn’t worth the excuses at that moment. It was nice to just hold her for a while as her siblings made fun of her for crying. Kids will be kids. I’m sure she’ll survive.

When I returned to see them the next day, I felt like it might be for the last time. Maybe so, maybe not. It’s obviously not the kind of thing that can be promised (though, I fear that I did.) Ewok and I discussed what types of stuff could be fixed in and around their home to make day-to-day life a bit more pleasurable. A bit more safe. The kids were more casual and comfortable overall on this day. There was a return to normalcy and silliness. We made fun of each other’s accents while attempting to speak in each other’s tongue. Their English remains to be a lot better than my Zulu will ever be, but they can’t make the round “R” sounds. I can’t make their click/pop sounds. It’s always a fun exercise for cheap laughs.

When it was time for us to say our final goodbyes, the kids decided to tag their names on my arm. Ntokozo wrote her full name, pointing out her surname, and then she told me when her birthday was. Because I keep missing it for some reason. Zakheni, the older brother, was too cool and reserved to interact much, but that couldn’t save him from a departing hug from “Big Show.” His friends pointed and laughed. I’m sure he’ll survive. Zinhle, one of the elder sisters, put lipstick on me without warning. I didn’t fight it. I’ll survive.

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Clearly, it was my turn to be fancy.

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Aug 25

Sage Francis 2015 Tour: USA, CANADA, SWEDEN…

NEW ADDS + MORE SHOWS ARE BEING BOOKED (Duluth just added)! Sign up for the newsletter on the homepage of StrangeFamous.com so you don’t miss any announcements. The “Going Through Hell Tour” is in support of the Copper Gone album as well as the 10 year anniversary of A HEALTHY DISTRUST.
Sage Francis has already played 57 shows in 2015. All remaining dates and ticket links are listed below:

8/28 Virginia Beach, VA @ Shakas Live TICKETS
8/29 Washington D.C. @ U Street Music Hall  TICKETS
8/30 Stanhope, NJ @ Stanhope House TICKETS
9/12 Butte, MT @ Original Festival TICKETS
9/13 Spokane, WA @ Swaxx TICKETS
9/14 Seattle, WA @ Neumos TICKETS
9/16 Victoria, BC Canada @ Distrikt TICKETS
9/17 Vancouver, BC Canada @ Alexander’s TICKETS
9/18 Kelowna, BC Canada @ Habitat
9/19 Nelson, BC Canada @ Spiritbar
9/20 Osoyoos, BC Canada @ Jo-Jo’s Cafe
9/22 Edmonton, AB Canada @ Brixx TICKETS
9/23 Lethbridge, AB Canada @ Inferno Nightclub
9/24 Saskatoon, SK Canada @ Amigo’s TICKETS
9/25 Calgary, AB Canada @ Dicken’s Pub TICKETS
9/26 Red Deer, AB Canada @ Wild Bills TICKETS
10/2 Uppsala, Sweden @ Ordsprak Festival TICKETS
10/17 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room TICKETS
10/29 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground w/ Metermaids + B. Dolan TICKETS
10/30 Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall w/ Metermaids, BRZO, B. Dolan TICKETS
11/7 Newport, KY @ The Thompson House with B. Dolan TICKETS
11/9 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room w/ B. Dolan TICKETS
11/10 Sioux Falls, SD @ Icon Lounge with B. Dolan TICKETS
11/12 Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium w/ B. Dolan TICKETS
11/13 Duluth, MN @ The Red Herring w/ B. Dolan TICKETS
11/14 Virginia, MN @ The Mirage Bar w/ B. Dolan
11/15 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon w/ B. Dolan TICKETS

1 hell shirt

“Going Through Hell” shirts are now available in Men’s and Women’s sizes! CLICK THE PICTURE.

“ID Thieves” is my newest video:

Click image for all “Copper Gone” album options

“MAKE EM PURR”:
http://youtu.be/bjxHy8WTgTs

“BEST OF TIMES”:

LIVE SPOKEN WORD IN ATHENS, GREECE

GRACE:
http://youtu.be/tZFzBKl5ODY

“VONNEGUT BUSY”

Follow Uncle Sage on: Twitter + Facebook.

78 Comments »
Jun 09

Copper Gone 1 Year Anniversary + NEW VIDEO!

“ID Thieves” is the newest video off of my Copper Gone album. SFR’s Aupheus took close to a year animating this bad boy, and it shows:
https://youtu.be/ixu5vmfoDRs

1 cg anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of Copper Gone! To help us celebrate, Strange Famous Records is offering 30% off all CG-related items. Use the code “CG1YR” at checkout: https://sfrstore.myshopify.com/collections/copper-gone

If you’ve already supported by purchasing the album, some gear, or a show ticket, I’d like to force an ice cream scooper through my chest and offer each of you a heart dollop. The fact that Copper Gone hit Billboard’s Top 200 the first week of its release was a proud moment for all of us at SFR. Many obstacles have been placed in our path, and media elites have all but written us off, but we’re still able to hit significant milestones thanks to the constant support of the fans. That’s what makes these accomplishments especially sweet for me. That’s often what pushes me through the exhaustion. As many of you may have noticed, I’ve toured practically non-stop since this time last year, and the dates keep piling up. I can’t play everywhere at once, and I can’t please everyone at once, but I’m grateful as hell to have the ability and opportunity to keep going.

With every dollop of my ice creamy heart…THANK YOU.
-Uncle Sage

1 cg screen

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Jun 04

Crumby Art

1 crumb pedalstrike

“Breaking bread with the best of ’em. Crumbs are left under the table for the rest of ’em.” – Sage Francis

This portrait was made entirely with bread crumbs. The person who made it calls himself Pedalstrike. His work is amazing. You can read his explanation in regard to this Uncle Sage portrait here. Part of that writeup reminded me of a poem I included in my Personal Journals booklet by Bill MacMillan called “The World’s Worst Rapper.” I’ll leave this here and wish Pedalstrike the very best in all future endeavors:

the world’s worst rapper is a devotee of the old school
understands the importance of knowing your roots
is the neighborhood historian hip hop
he has memorized the soundtracks to krush groove & beat street
owns everything by kurtis blow & grandmaster flash
can trace musical influences like an anthropologist

the world’s worst rapper has stepped up to the verbal plate only once
an ugly incident remembered by no one but himself
now he plays the interested observer when friends flip to freestyling
in a circle of would-be stars, he is the audience everyone plays to

the worlds worst rapper has never been jealous of others
he is always encouraging, supportive, never a negative word
he wishes he could work the words but sits silent instead
fear & failure keeping him closed

dreams deferred become dreams denied

the world’s worst rapper works in a record store to feed his vinyl addiction
keeps up on the latest sounds, can spot a winner a mile away
uses his discount to keep tables turning & mixes fresh
provides the musical steel the local DJs will fire-hammer

into soundtracks for saturday night sessions

the world’s worst rapper has a lot of friends, is well liked
he has never been beaten down or harassed
he has never been kissed

he sits alone at night on the fire escape of his apartment
listens to queen latifah & draws the faces from his day into an old notebook
tito, d.j., mikhaila, the lost & confused tourist
the young woman in his store who picked up the lil’ kim CD

his drawings are masterpieces sketches of ordinary people
done with all the all the love he feels for them
he sees timeless beauty in everyone
except himself

the world’s worst rapper is an artist who doesn’t know it
so focused on the failed dream of rap stardom
that the talent he does have is overlooked, scratched out
he is the silence between the beats

he may never know just how close he is to wonder
& no song can ever make up for that

…& so
…& so the
…& so the beat
…the beat
…goes on

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Mar 20

Are You Adult Enough to Use a Flag as a Cape?

Apparently, capes were too soon for Madonna.

I’ve been rocking this SFR flag as a cape for over 10 years though. LIKE A CAPE PRO. No accidents, no injuries, no diseases, nothing. It just provides the super human strength needed to keep my indie grind going. Oh, and they’re finally available to the public HERE: www.tinyurl.com/SFRflagcape

photo by ty watkins

photo by ty watkins

My SFR flag is probably the most requested item at shows. Some people offer to pay for it, but usually they’re just like, “Gimme that cape, man. PLEEEEEAAAASE!” Well, I couldn’t sell it or give it away as only one was made. And it’s for me. However, after ten years, we finally figured out a way to manufacture 100 of them at a price that wasn’t ridiculously high. So, no, I still can’t give them away. But if you really are about that cape life, or you want to let your freak flag fly, get this before it’s no longer available.

#STRANGEFAMOUS!

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Feb 25

East Coast Tour: Sage Francis x Ceschi x Metermaids THIS MARCH

square with dates
Although I’m kicking off 2015 with a west coast tour, it was important bring it all back home for a few dates with the east coast homies, Ceschi and Metermaids this MARCH:

3/12 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory (All Ages) TICKETS
3/13 Providence, RI @ The Met (All Ages) TICKETS
3/14 Boston, MA @ Great Scott (21+) TICKETS
3/15 New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place (All Ages) TICKETS

Get tickets ASAP because these shows are poised to sell out. This is not only my homecoming from the Copper Gone World Tour, but the Metermaids have just dropped a new album, and these shows will also serve as Ceschi’s album release on Fake Four! Pat the Bunny and Brook Pridemore will be joining our New Haven show (FB event page here.) Additionally, we will be joined by Storm Davis at the Providence show (FB event page here.)

header for east coast
If by chance you’re looking for a new cover photo for your social media, HERE YOU GO! Many thanks to Pat Jensen for the incredible poster artwork. It will all make sense when the video gets released next month.

#STRANGEFAMOUS!

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Jan 16

“THE PLACE SHE FEARED MOST” – Sage Francis lyric video

Thanks to the wonderful work of morgans brother, here is the new lyric video for The Place She Feared Most from my Copper Gone album:
www.tinyurl.com/PlaceSheFearedMost

By this point I hoped to post a full account of everything that happened in the past 6 months during the Copper Gone World Tour, but that’s going to have to wait for another time. For now I just want to thank to everyone who joined me on my road to recover. The agents, promoters, journalist, tour mates, and the fans who came out to help make this one of the most successful tours of my career. Many people in the industry thought it couldn’t happen, especially after my 4 year hiatus. I’m not sure why. But hey, it’s fun to continue proving those people wrong. That’s my life juice. They didn’t get me in the beginning, so I’ll be damned if they get me in the end. Enough of that though. I only have two weeks to catch up on the mountain of sheeeyiiiiittttt that built up during my absence before I have to head to the west coast for more shows. My full list of upcoming date are here: http://tinyurl.com/SageShows

1 space the place she feared most

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Jan 12

RIP Ikey Owens

1 ikey

The world lost an incredible talent and a genuinely good person today. Point blank. He was also the most badass keyboardist I’ve ever seen perform live. To see Ikey Owens do his thing as part of my own set for 30+ shows on the Li(f)e Tour was a true privilege. Powerful, inspiring, electric…awesome. It was on that tour when I lost my dad actually, and the whole band was not only understanding of my situation but very comforting. As a shit-twist of coincidence would have it, we are very close to the 4 year anniversary of Eyedea’s sudden passing.

It’s stuff like this I dread when I hit the road for extended periods of time. For myself, for others, for everyone…the goal of the road is for it to be tragedy free. It’s a high hope to be sure, but it’s the things you never expect that sock you in the gut while you’re so helpless and far away. I just returned home from a sold out show in Newcastle feeling on top of the world when I opened an email to this awful news. He was found dead in a hotel today while he was touring with Jack White’s band in Mexico. The details of his passing aren’t fully known, but it’s not prudent to speculate or to get hung up on that stuff right now.

One thing I’m grateful for is that we had a chance to hang out last month when he was traveling through RI with Jack White’s band. Although we hadn’t seen each other in 4 years, he hit me up to get dinner so we could catch up on old times and discuss our current projects. We had some laughs, we discussed music, and, what was most important, he was really loving life. It’s good for me to be around people with those positive vibes and the fact that he just wanted to hang out with no official business being part of bargain meant a lot to me. That’s a gift I was given and I’m lucky to have it now that I know we’ll never be able to speak again.

All of the people he’s touched, mentored, or worked with through the years are experiencing shock and disbelief at the moment, just as I am, and there’s not much we can do except grieve and share our memories of him. My thoughts are with his friends, family and bandmates. I wanted to share this photo in hopes that it provides at least a smirk. Especially my friends in the Free Moral Agents. They know that Ikey had a rule about performers not wearing shorts on stage. That rule clashed with my rule about wearing my famous yellow swim trunks when the moment called for it (usually when my only pair of pants were being laundered.) He didn’t say anything about it. I know what he was thinking though.

Love you, homie.

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Oct 14

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