Wednesday, March 08, 2017

She Came Out Of The Karoo-The Music Of Tony Bird-A Review

She Came Out Of The Karoo-The Music Of Tony Bird-A Review

CD Review

By Zack James

Sorry Africa, Tony Bird, 1986

During the 1980s Seth Garth had been taking on more and more purely political assignments for the New Times Gazette, a successor newspaper to the old alternative newspaper born of the turbulent 1960s when getting “real” news was desperately necessary as against the bullshit put out by the main media The Eye for which he had gotten his first jumps in journalism as the film and music critic. It wasn’t that he had lost interest in covering the happenings in the world of independent cinema and the edges of popular music but that in that period there were political trends around the struggles for liberation in Central and South America and Southern Africa that for the first time since the slowdown of the Vietnam War back in the early 1970s those situations required attention. And so Benny Gold, his editor from back in The Eye days who had moved on with the Gazette assigned him more and more of those political assignments with the idea that he would weave those in with some off-beat cultural pieces.    
One night he had been in the Open Space, a new music club in the Village [Greenwich Village]that had previous been a coffeehouse, a popular one, the Unicorn, to hear a new guy out of Africa who Seth was told had an interesting beat, had combined the sounds of Mother Africa with more popular Western music. This was the kind of off-beat combination that he was sure Benny Gold his editor would go for. As the MC for the evening announced the performer, Tony Bird, he was surprised that out came on the stage a young white man backed up by an all black group of sidemen. Seth had known that there were some, not enough, white youth who were supporting the various black liberation struggles in Southern Africa, particularly in South Africa but he was not prepared for a white musician to surface who supported those struggles although he should have known that fact going in.    

Tony Bird let everybody in the place know where he was coming from when he started singing a very heartfelt and upbeat song, Sorry Africa, taking on the burden on his shoulders of expressing sorrow at the way the white man, the way his people had treated the ones they had conquered one way or another. Very moving.  

What had gotten Seth that night though and he was as surprised at this as he was that Tony Bird was a white African man was a song that he finished up with, She Came From The Karoo. The Karoo being the outback in the country he came from. What was strange about the song was that except that the locale was Africa it could have been a song of love and lost in America. More to the point was the vision that Seth had of the woman Tony was speaking of, a woman who came out of the mist with a red sundress on and effected all around her with her bright Botticelli smile and demeanor. Seth thought that little idea, the idea that a woman could spark such imagination out in the bush was the hook that he would use in his article. That and that Tony Bird, a black liberation  struggle fighter in his own right had no apologies to give to Africa.     

No comments:

Post a Comment