Jesse Clegg Tours a Frat Party and Wonders When Americans Study

Categories: Q&A, Show Preview

South African native rocker Jesse Clegg will be performing at the Mesa Arts Center on Tuesday, May 6 with his father, Johnny Clegg.

Johannesburg, South Africa, is not immediately associated with rock music, at least in the United States. However, there is a 25-year-old rocker, born and raised in the African music scene, looking to change the way we view music in the African culture.

Jesse Clegg is currently on his first North American tour, which comes to the Mesa Arts Center on Tuesday, May 6, to promote his second album, Life on Mars, and to offer a taste of his heritage. He will be opening for his father, the iconic South African rocker Johnny Clegg.

"I think there are a lot of similarities," Clegg explains, "between the really intense Zulu music and certain rock chord-changes and melodic ideas."

No doubt and interesting comparison, but it does make sense when listening to the progressive and experimental tracks of Life on Mars. Otherworldly sounds and influences dot the album while still holding true to a softer and enchanting rock 'n' roll feel.

"When I started writing," says Clegg, describing his musical background, "it just happened that it came out as rock 'n' roll. It was never a conscious decision; it just made sense to me."

Johnny Clegg played a key role in developing the musical mind of his son, Jesse. Over twenty albums into a lengthy career, Johnny certainly knows the key to success, even though the elder Clegg has his own musical style far removed from rock and roll. The length of time that Jesse spent on tour with his father at such a young age has left an impression that shaped his own musical goals.

Up on the Sun caught up with Jesse Clegg midway through his North American tour and discussed his plans to record the next album in America, his role as an ambassador in the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and his journey through the United States, which included his first frat party experience on the Dartmouth campus.

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