After a short 2 hour plane ride from Atlanta, GA to Buffalo, NY and a beautiful, scenic 6 hour drive from Niagara Falls, I made it to the small town of Burnstown, ON. So tiny, in fact, you would miss it if you blinked! This quaint town is nestled in the Ottawa Valley and is home to a population of roughly 85 people. As I pulled into Burnstown, I spotted the blue coffee shop on the corner, and a chill of emotions ran through my body because I had long been anticipating this day and it was finally here, seeing Freshlyground in concert! I pulled in to the Neat Coffee Shop, which used to be an old school house that was built in 1886, and couldn’t wait to meet the owners, Adam and Kim McKinty. After walking through the doors, everyone smiled and made us feel so welcome. It was southern hospitality at its finest!
By now you’re probably wondering, who is this Freshlyground because you’ve quickly learned we don’t mean coffee beans! In 2009 I lived in Swaziland, Africa and that’s where I discovered Freshlyground’s music. After finding out they were going on tour in North America, I was ecstatic! Freshlyground is a South African Afro-fusion band blending elements of traditional South African music, blues, jazz, and indie rock. You may recognize a song they collaborated with Shakira for the 2010 FIFA World Cup theme called, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, which hit the charts internationally.
It was such a privilege to see them live and their performance was incredible. The room created such an intimate experience which really allowed you to connect to the music. Their music is full of inspirational lyrics and provides an eclectic mix of feels and sounds. They have such a dynamic energy on stage and Zolani, the lead singer, exudes such a joy that’s infectious. The music they create is magical and just lifts your spirits so much that you can’t resist the urge to get off your feet and dance. The room filled quickly and soon after the band played several songs the crowd warmed up, and everyone was up dancing for the remainder of the show.
I was fortunate to get to meet the band following the show and hang out for a while, and even interviewed Zolani to find out what “Living the Dream” means to her and here is her response: “Living the Dream” to me means finding the thing that makes you, you, uniquely, you. Because there is nothing anyone can do to be you and do the thing that you can do. I think “Living the Dream” is finding that thing that really makes you uniquely yourself and magnifying that and making it happen. Making it happen until your dream comes true; your dream becomes your life. That’s what “Living the Dream” means for me.” Her words were truly touching and inspiring. For the owner, Adam McKinty, sitting on the stage after a show where everyone left with smiles on their faces is “Living the Dream” to him! He stated that Freshlyground was one of the best shows they’ve ever had! This was a night I will never forget!
Here is the exclusive “Living the Dream” video of the concert and post concert interview with Zolani, head singer of Freshlyground and Adam, owner of Neat Coffee Shop.
Just type in 76.58 degrees west by 45.39 degrees north into your GPS and check out the artsy town yourself. While you’re there, stop by the Neat Coffee Shop and they will take good care of you or head over to the Rowing Club and paddle down the Madawaska River, it’s pure enough to drink right from the river!