Sunday, March 27, 2016

Reflections on Buffy Saint Marie concert in Kingston

No No Keshagesh*


I never saw so many business suits.
Never knew a dollar sign that looked so cute.
Never knew a junkie with a money Jones:
He's singing, "Who's selling Park Place. Who's buying Boardwalk"?
These old men they make their dirty deals.
Go in the back room and see what they can steal.
Talk about your beautiful and spacious skies.
It's about uranium; it's about the water rights.
Put Mother Nature on a luncheon plate.
They cut her up and call it real estate.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They make a war over it: Blow things up for it.
The reservation now is poverty row.
There's something cooking and the lights are low.
Somebody's trying to save our mother earth.
I'm gonna help them to save it,
To sing it and bring it


Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)

Ole Columbus he was looking good,
When he got lost in our neighborhood.
Garden of Eden right before his eyes.
Now it's all spy ware: now it's all income tax.
Ole' brother Midas looking hungry today.
What he can't buy he'll get some other way.
Send in the troopers if the natives resist.
Old, old story boys, that's how you do it boys.
Look at these people; ah they're on a roll.
Gonna have it all, gonna have complete control.
Want all the resources and all of the land.
They'll break the law for it: Blow things up for it.
When all our champions are off in the war,
Their final rip off here and is always on.
Mr. Greed I think your time has come.
We're gonna sing it and pray it and live it then say it.


Singing: No no Keshagesh:
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)
No, no, no, no Keshagesh
You can't do that no more, (no more, no more no more)


Lyrics by Buffy Saint Marie, from Lyricsmode,
*Cree word meaning "greedy guts"

This is just one of the many songs Buffy Saint Marie provided her Kingston audience last night. Full-throated, passionate, and inspiring, this miniature First Nation activist continues to recruit her audience to her cause. As a self-described 'hippy' from the seventies, raised on the  political hypocrisy of the "non-war" (VietNam) until she experienced with her own eyes and ears, the shot-through bodies of soldiers in the airport in San Francisco, underlined with the words of the medics attending to them, as they made their way back home for medical treatment, after being injured in the conflict.
Condemning the reality of the five war colleges in the United State, without a single college dedicated to the cause of restorative justice and the pursuit of peace, Saint Marie spun her theme through her guitar riffs, her keyboard background, her inclusive circle-spinning, spiralling as she brought her audience into her community, really a community of civilization.
Supported by a bass player from Vancouver, a guitarist from Florida/California and an Ojibway percussionist from Manitoba, decked out in a rainbow of flowing colours, elevated by her substantial heels, Ms Saint Marie demonstrated that septaguinarians are still making noise the world needs to hear.
Saving the planet from the ravages of global warming and climate change, steering a course toward world peace and a rejection of war, she urged her activist colleagues never to 'burn out' in their passion, and offered, for the restoration of their spirit, the long-revered love song, Until it's time for you to go. Not quite the clear lyrical rendition of the original, this hymn to love nevertheless took on a new and poignant flavour in her advanced and slightly more raspy and seasoned offering.
Arresting too was her plea to "raise our boys differently from the way we were told," while turning the spotlight onto the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
The take-away from the experience of the "event" (much more than a mere concert), was the artist/activist's authenticity, steeped by years of being black-listed by both president's Nixon and Johnson, (presidential order fearing the words and their impact of her searing indictment, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee), five years performing on Sesame Street, a doctorate, and travel throughout the world, and a brand new album, Power in the Blood,  the title song another biting satire of the conventional perspective that power resides in the government and the military, not to mention the many awards in her trophy case.
Upon entering the theatre, the audience were greeted by aboriginal drummers, who, along with "Voices of our Grandmothers" native women who opened the evening with native songs and their own drumming, were invited backstage for the star's concert. Inclusivity, spontaneity, commitment, resilience, imagination and courage...all of these qualities wafted through the theatre like smoke from a sweat lodge, inevitably burning their biting invasive path into the conscience, the conscious and the unconscious of everyone standing and beating their own hands/drums pleading for encores that included, Starwalk.
Ms Saint Marie drew admirers from teens through to seniors, all engaged and moved by her life, her lyrics, her steady drum-beat and her inescapable power of her blood.






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