Saturday, November 6 · 8:00pm - 10:00pm
12 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA
From southeast Africa, Tony Bird, a Malawi-born song man, is a complete original. With a mesmerizing intensity, his voice, vision, guitar style and persona are unique in all of folk music. Bird's African roots have produced a performer with a far-ranging repertoire that includes exotic travelogues from mountains with misty landscapes to desert and bushland filled with lions, birds, bushmen, mangoes, monkeys, sunsets and bicycles.... All this savannah-laden tropicana is interspersed with narrative tales of darkness and delight, topical and historical commentary, love songs, musical tone poems, rallying cries of inspiration and a whimsical sense of humor.
Bird's rich geographic and cultural background has spawned a music of diverse influences. Drawing from the southern African mbqanga and kwela rhythms, Afrikaans boeremusiek and even calypso, along with western traditions of folk, blues, country and rock, his music is an original amalgamation of all these styles, which he loosely describes as "African Folk-Rock." He creates the sound of a full band with his unique slapping, percussive guitar picking, a clicking mouth and an energetic stomping left foot. With a raw organic quality, his grainy voice breaks into growls, whispers and falsettos contrasted against sophisticated painterly lyrics.
Formerly exposed to the impact of modernity on the African landscape, Bird has an inherent indigenous and environmental thread running through his music. Not surprisingly, he has performed at various nature conservancies, including the Rachel Carson Institute where he was presented with an award. While some of his songs take audiences on exotic safaris into the African bushland, others are deep, humanistic journeys of the soul.
Bird had two early vinyl albums released on Columbia in the '70s, "Tony Bird" and "Tony Bird of Paradise." The latter garnered acclaim in a 1986 People Magazine critics' poll as one of the top 10 albums of all time. "Sorry Africa," his 1990 Philo/Rounder release, features fellow southern African musicians who have supported a line of African roots stars from Hugh Masekela to Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte, as well as Paul Simon's South African-influenced "Graceland." Bird's release pre-dated Simon's by at least a decade.
Returning in 2003 after a six year hiatus due to hand problems, Bird will be releasing another CD which will feature the same wonderful musicians, including one song with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who became enamored of Tony's music when he toured with them in the '80s. In the early '90s, he also toured with South African stars, the late Simon Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens.
Growing up in the era of colonialism and Apartheid, Bird developed a sharp, conscious universal eye. That same urgency and relevance permeates the expanse of his new music, which now reflects his American experience as well as his worldly African roots.
Tony Bird has been called "The Father of African Folk-Rock." Yet, he is even more. He's an inventive, passionate, theatrical performer who delivers the deeply moving and searching anthems of a mature poet. Some of these songs are extended odes to life that seem to draw from the wisdom of another time and place. It's not unusual for even small club audiences to respond with standing ovations to his altruistic, involving and engaging concerts. This rare bird of eloquent song will fly into your soul and the extraordinary experience of a Tony Bird concert is not to be missed.
"The finest, most impressive folk poet in years" -The Village Voice
Suggested donation $15 plus $1 Loring-Greenough House preservation fee. Reservation to notlobreservations at gmail dot com at least 24 hours in advance are recommended.
notloB Folk Concerts are volunteer run and not for profit. All interested in volunteering are encouraged to send an email to notlobreservations at gmail dot com
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