Bird plays Bass Hall Saturday
Tony Bird, a Malawi-born musician, will be in concert in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Bird’s rich geographic and cultural background has spawned a music of diverse influences. Drawing from the southern African mbaqanga 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. 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.
Bird had two 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 and world music stars from Hugh Masekela to Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte, as well as Paul Simon’s South African-influenced “Graceland.” Bird’s early releases pre-dated Simon’s by at least a decade and more.
Growing up in the era of colonialism and apartheid, Bird developed a sharp, conscious universal eye. That same urgency and relevance permeate the expanse of his new music, which now reflects his American and intercontinental experience as well as his 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.
Admission is $15, or $12 for seniors, students, and members of the Monadnock Center. Reservations may be made by calling 924-3235, or online at monadnockcenter.org.