Jesse Rudoy’s hugely enjoyable documentary follows two country music artists from Southern Africa as they experience America.
In the unlikely event that you need additional proof that country music is a universal language, consider The Cowboys from Swaziland: Gazi “Dusty” Simelane and Linda “Stones” Msibi, two cousins who are the subjects of director Jesse Rudoy’s hugely entertaining and warmly inspiring documentary Dusty & Stones.
The film, which has its world premiere Thursday evening at New York’s prestigious NYC DOC festival, is engaging and engrossing as it follows the fellows who discovered Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and other country greats on Voice of America radio while coming of age in the remote valley of Mooihoek in what is now known as the African Kingdom of Eswatini, and were moved to make similar music of their own.
As Rudoy’s documentary sympathetically illustrates, the Dusty & Stones duo, like many ambitious artists in every musical genre, started out playing sparsely attended gigs in often ego-deflating circumstances, holding on to day jobs but unshakably determined to attract, and connect with, an audience. The turning point came for them when they received word that representatives for the Texas Sounds International Music Awards had viewed Dusty & Stones music videos on YouTube — and invited them to take part in their Marshall, Texas competition.
We recently had the pleasure of talking with Dusty & Stones and director Jesse Rudoy a few days before the New York premiere of their documentary. And if you’re not able to be in Manhattan on Thursday, don’t fret: Starting Friday, you’ll have through Nov. 28 to purchase a ticket to stream Dusty & Stones online from NYC DOC.
Here is Dusty & Stones’ take on a Johnny Cash standard while performing in 2016 during the 23rd edition of the Bikers Rally held at The Riders Ranch at Sidvokodvo, Swaziland.