Just after I returned from Africa last August, my writing professor at UB (Marion Winik, whose interview I posted here last week) sent me an email asking me if I had seen the film, “Searching for Sugar Man,” because of its strong South African connection. As I wrote in a blog back then, as soon as I heard “Sugar Man”, “I Wonder”, “The Establishment Blues”, “Inner City Blues” and all the other familiar tracks from Rodriguez’s album “Cold Fact,” I was instantly transported back to my student years in Cape Town when those songs were part of the mix, along with Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Don McLean and other icons from that era.
This time, when I was in Cape Town recently, I decided to try to find the CD store that plays such a prominent role in the movie. Judging by the shots of the mountain, I had been able to place that it was somewhere in the vicinity of the Gardens neighborhood and, using Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain as a guide, we drove up Long Street, parked and retraced our steps until the mountains were in the right perspective – and there, on Rheede Street we found Mabu Vinyl & Sugar Music.
I thought how curious that this shop should be on this particular street in Cape Town. It is very close to the drama school campus of the University of Cape Town, where I spent four highly charged years, and I walked this very road daily at various stages of my student life because I lived up a dogleg close by.
The lovely thing about Mabu Vinyl & Sugar Music is that they haven’t cashed in on the success of the Oscar winning documentary and commercialized the shop in any way. There is a little handmade sign to say that they sell Rodriquez’s CDs and the DVD of the documentary, but otherwise it is a grungy second hand book and LP store oozing character and nostalgia.
I could have bought “Cold Fact” on Amazon at any time, but I wanted to buy it there, and did. Now, as I drive around Baltimore, I am cheating on WBJC by playing the CD over and over, re-living my days in the Gardens in Cape Town.
music, Rodriquez, Searching for Sugar Man, singer