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Home / Articles / Opinion / 5 Spot /  Jeremy Arndt Does Africa
5 Spot

Jeremy Arndt Does Africa

By Julianna Clay
Posted // November 1,2010 - Jeremy Arndt is a local artist and businessman who recently traveled to Africa and took his camera and guitar to document the experience. An exhibition featuring pictures he took during his journey is currently on display at The Tea Grotto (2090 S. 900 East), and he is planning a musical tour of the western United States with his brother starting in December. For more information, visit

Why Africa?
I have always had a desire to go to those faraway places. When I was a child, I spent hours pouring through my grandmother’s National Geographic magazines and studying the exotic animals of the world. I was a little naive about Africa until the opportunity arose, and then began researching and reading about Africa, its people, its music, etc. I discovered that West Africa is often considered the heartbeat of the world when it comes to music. It was like fate was sending me there!

You stayed with families or sometimes slept outdoors, so you and were completely submerged in the culture. What was it like?
So far, it was the richest experience of my life. Out of six months, I only spent nine total nights in hotels. The rest of my time was spent sleeping everywhere: the sands of the Sahara, the rooftops of Bamako, huts in the Fouta Djalon forest region of Guinea, living with local families and young adults. I stayed with families that were amongst the poorest to families that were in good financial positions. Everywhere I went I was treated with the utmost hospitality. Living among people that had (comparatively) so little, yet were so in love with life, has completely reshaped my outlook on life and is something that will never leave me.

Are you planning to return?
When I was in Mali, my friend Oumar and I formed a group consisting of African musicians and one other American musician. Both Oumar and I have a similar vision for a band of musicians around the world, and are currently working on meeting the people we need to put it together. This winter I will be traveling to Australia, New Zealand, and hopefully Japan, to delve further into my musical explorations. Next winter, I am hoping to go to India, to learn more of their culture and music and to find any musicians willing to work on the project with us. Within five years, I hope to head back to West Africa so we can make this happen.
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Posted // November 4,2010 at 08:07

Hey Jeremy... I am so proud of you. I was not so thrilled with your travels at first, more scared for your safety but you seem to be doing well. If you get to Pa.. I have a place for you to sleep and of course I will always feed you. Miss you and Love you lots! XOXOX..stay safe in your travels. I hope you and justin have a good time together!


Posted // November 4,2010 at 00:14

Jeremy Arndt is an innovator and so creative!! His talent fresh and legit.


Posted // November 3,2010 at 18:09

You are an amazing nephew - I am proud of you and glad you are taking this opportunity now in your life to enrich, self educate and explore healthy venues for enlighenment. Stay safe.
xoxoxo - your wise aunt linda


Posted // November 3,2010 at 11:54

I would just like to say thanks to Julianna for this opportunity, and also give credit for the photo to my friend Amber Crago, an amazingly talented photographer who splits her time between California, Hawaii, and Japan. Her website is if anyone would like to check out the work of another fellow world traveling artist : )


Posted // November 1,2010 at 09:27

As a fellow traveler, I'm very curious about how you fund your trips. I know from experience that visiting Africa can be extremely expensive. Considering what airlines have done to the industry, buying tickets to almost any location is expensive anymore.

How will you afford visiting Australia and Japan in one winter? How do you afford the time?

To fund my trips, I've often had to work two jobs for the money. Sometimes I look for a 0% credit card, put the trip on that, and pay it off before the interest kicks in.

How do you do it? Trust fund? Several jobs? Rich parents?


Posted // November 3,2010 at 22:46 - Hey Heyduke! That's cool that you are going to Japan. You should keep in touch with me via my website or facebook. (facebook link on the contact page) If the opportunity does present itself to go to Japan, I will be in the Osaka area and won't be in Japan for a really long time. I am in SLC now... just finished my last gig last night. SLC is the first stop on my west coast tour. I took the train out here from Michigan about two weeks ago. My younger brother is joining me for his first traveling experience and his first music tour. We will be in Cali for a month and then crossing the country in December back to Michigan, spending a few days in several states. If you care to follow along, I update a travel blog when I can. You can also listen to some old demo tracks. My first studio CD will be released around the end of January! Take it easy and thanks for the kind words : )


Posted // November 3,2010 at 12:25 - Jeremy, thank you kindly for the thoughtful reply. I really appreciate it. I'm always so curious about how other people fund their travels and, in effect, their dreams. Your general attitude is as impressive as your desire to follow your heart, though you may suffer some for it at times. You're obviously willing to endure discomfort and eschew shallow amenities in trade for life experiences. I can't tell you how great I think that is. I may be in Japan this winter, as well. If I go, I'll check out your schedule beforehand. Maybe I'll have the opportunity to drop a few bucks in your hat? Good luck with all you set out to do!


Posted // November 3,2010 at 11:29 - Hello Hayduke, It all depends on your priorities for spending and how you live. I am not rich by any means! I make my living playing music, often by Busking (street performing), playing gigs where I get them, and also by my photography. No trust funds, no rich parents. Just a normal kid... raised in a middle class family in small town Michigan. The Africa trip was a special experience though. I moved out to SLC last year in May to work a job out here. In January 2010, they sent me to West Africa for a bit of work. They paid for my plane ticket and I worked it out with them to make my return trip for 6 months later, giving me the time to travel. All the money I made in West Africa was spent there. I returned with $1.30 in my pocket and an overdrafted checking account... yikes! When I got back, I did a couple odd jobs to pass the time until I went on a music tour with a friend's band from California. When I got back from Africa, I quit my job I was working and decided to focus full-time on my music and photography. It's been a rocky start, but is going well now! As for how I afford the time?!? Well... I make my money by traveling, as a working musician. I have made the decision to make my living on the road, doing what I love to do. I have been living out of a backpack and a VW bus for about a year and a half now, and was very fortunate to have family out here when I moved out last year that let me live there for a while. Living out of a car and backpack (while traveling) means no rent for a year and a half. I bought my car with cash, used a prepaid cell phone and skype for a while (my parents didn't like that). My only recurring expense is my Student Loan payment from college, which isn't much, but it won't be getting paid off any time soon. I am doing the "irresponsible" thing by not paying it off as fast as possible, so I can travel in my 20s, learn, grow, and have new experiences! My travel to Australia will be funded through my music and I will probably only have a couple hundred bucks when I get there, but I will travel the country by busking. I will buy a one way plane ticket and stay until I have earned enough to leave. If I can make enough to go to Japan, I am going to visit a fellow musician and busker, Shibaten. Shibaten ( was a big influence for me and has traveled to over 30 countries in the last 5 years, just by busking. If you set your mind to anything and work at it, you can do it. Human beings have amazing potential. My lifestyle has required a lot of sacrifice and I have had days where I have had to go without food or very little food, gotten stuck in places I didn't want to be, where it was hard to earn money by busking, etc. It has also been very rewarding and the hard spots are definitely not the norm. For anyone wanting to do more travel, use your talents! We are all gifted different talents that we can utilize in this lifetime. There are lots of opportunities out there for teaching English (and getting paid) in foreign countries, writing, travel photography, etc. The world has endless opportunities, but you gotta work hard. I met an artist recently, who now is garnering a lot of success for his work, but in his 20s made his living traveling around the world doing hair wraps in a street booth for girls. He said he never had much money, but was always getting to live in exotic places and experience new people, places, and things! If you have any questions, email me at JeremyA.Music at gmail dot com. I would be glad to share my experiences with you in hopes that you may find a few tips in there somewhere :)