Treefort 2023 Profile: Swaziland’s Dusty & Stones

We begin this week’s installments of profiles on international artists playing Treefort Music Fest with the most compelling entry thus far in the series. Hailing from Swaziland, Dusty & Stones features two cousins breaking new ground by remodeling American country music as a Swazi sound of their own.

Fortunately for those who aren’t familiar with the musicians or the sound they’re trying to propagate, Dusty & Stones extensively answered our Treefort-related questions in great detail. Treefort organizers are surely well-versed with Dusty & Stones’ original — some might even say “newfound” — style of music, as they booked Dusty & Stones for three performances.

Moreover, FilmFort will also screen a new documentary, simply called Dusty & Stones, on March 23 and 26. The documentary takes a close look as the cousins struggle to build a following for their sound but, in the face of many obstacles, will not be deterred.

Here is the Bad Penny’s recent chat with both members of Dusty & Stones: Gazi “Dusty” Simelane and Linda “Stones” Msibi.

[Go here for a primer on this series of Treefort Music Fest previews. Check back for new profiles of international artists playing the festival every day leading up to the fest’s kickoff on Wednesday, March 22.]

Artist: Dusty & Stones
From: Swaziland
Genre: country
Treefort info: Playing Thursday, March 23, at Hannah’s at 10:10 p.m.; Friday, March 24, at the Hideout at 3:20 p.m.; and on Saturday, March 25, at Camp Modern at 8 p.m.

Why did you decide to play Treefort Fest this year?

DUSTY & STONES: Like most country music artists from Africa, the idea of being a part of a music festival in the U.S. is a dream come true. This is one moment we couldn’t turn down because we get the chance to share our music with the world while at the same time getting a chance to [serve as a] middle [act] and get feedback from our international fans.

What excites you the most about participating in it?

DUSTY & STONES: The idea of having our documentary screening and later getting the chance [to meet] our fans and perform our songs is more exciting. Also, we are looking forward to meeting some of the artists and musicians, so that we can learn from them as well.

Is this your first time playing Treefort? If so, how did your booking come about? If not, why did you choose to return? 

DUSTY & STONES: It is Dusty & Stones very first, and thanks to our documentary for introducing us to the event’s organisers. We believe the interest to have us developed after watching the film and we are so grateful for that.

Have you visited Boise/Idaho before? If yes, do you have any fun stories to share? If not, what have you heard about Boise/Idaho?

DUSTY & STONES: This will be our first time visiting Boise/Idaho, and we do understand that the period between March and May is the best time to visit, when the temperatures are ideal for enjoying outdoor activities. So we are looking forward to that.

“We are not nervous … at least for now”

-Dusty & Stones

Did you face any challenges or headaches in securing a visa to come here?

DUSTY & STONES: Fortunately for us, this is not our first time coming to the U.S. We were part of the Texas Sound International [Country Music] Awards in 2017, in which time we were able to secure our visas.

What expectations do you have for your experience here and at Treefort?

DUSTY & STONES: More than anything, we are hoping to enjoy ourselves and come out of this event [as] better musicians and artists than we are at the moment. Having seen the festivals previous events, we expect an exciting one this time around. Our fans should likewise expect to have a good time during our sets.

How would you describe your state of mind going into Treefort?

DUSTY & STONES: We feel like our documentary has set a standard that we have to live up to. However, the way that we were brought up and having been to other big events as this, we are up for the task at hand. We are not nervous … at least for now, because we pretty much know that once we hit on the stage our fans will be expecting us to take care of business.

We have been [in] similar cases before but this time around we feel we are better prepared and ready. More than anything, we will be out there to enjoy ourselves as well.

What other artists on the Treefort lineup are you excited to see? Are you friends with any of them?

DUSTY & STONES: We are not friends of any yet, but we’d be happy to meet up with other country music artists and [non-country] musicians alike: The Country Club, Goodnight, Texas, Jenny Don’t and the Spurs, [and] Teddy and The Rough Riders just to mention but a few. The festival lineup is huge and so diverse, so we [are hoping to] make lasting relationships.

What do you enjoy most about performing at music festivals in general?

DUSTY & STONES: There’s nothing that is more fulfilling that doing something you’re passionate about, following your dreams and then get to see people or the fans in this regard enjoying every minute of it. The positive reactions are always some kind of “green-light” to say, “Keep keeping on, we love it.” That’s priceless!

What can Treefort attendees expect from your performance?

DUSTY & STONES: They must bring on their dancing boots and be ready to boogie. Also, we will be performing our songs which are also part of the film they would have seen or will be seeing at the festival. They must definitely come to see us and be ready for some good times!

For more coverage of international artists playing Treefort, check out our recent conversations with:

• New Brunswick’s Motherhood
• Toronto’s Debby Friday
• Mexico’s Son Rompe Pera
• Ireland’s Modernlove
• Montréal’s Thanya Iyer
• Mexico City’s Petite Amie
• Vancouver’s Mauvey
• Italy’s Dumbo Gets Mad
• Brazil’s BIKE
• Chile’s Sistemas Inestables
• British Columbia’s Mother Sun
• Norway’s Orions Belte
• Treefort Co-Founder and Festival Director Eric Gilbert

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