Tuesday, February 28th Rio Theater Santa Cruz, CA
First, let me say: I came into this show with a wrong idea. Ladysmith Black Mambazo? I don't know what a Mambazo is, but to me "Ladysmith Black Mambazo" sounds like "the Black Men of Mambazo who Shape Ladies to their Will" like a goldsmith shapes gold to his will, or a silversmith shapes silver. And you guys know, I'm a feminist! A hard, cruel feminist, so I'm like "Ladysmith Black Mambazo don't you DARE marginalize and diminish my comrades in the solidarity of the oppressed (from across the gender divide true, yet united in the cause of opposing the aforementioned oppression!) by saying as if to say 'oh yes, the ladies, we shape them to our will as if they were pliant and heated base and precious metals, quickened to near liquidity in the forge of our hot harmonies and hammering rhythms which they dig so much,'" - that sort of attitude is abhorrent to me! That sort of implication, as if the "ladies" are but material to be "smithed" upon one's tools, except it turns out - guys, I was wrong about Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I came in there with a wrong idea, and they opened my eyes to that in this show.
Apparently, "Ladysmith" is just a town in South Africa near where they're all from. The guy mentioned that in passing, then it all kind of came clear for me: the trail of oppression. Probably the town was named by some damn white people, always with the patriarchy, trying to smith them ladies to their will, naming towns, et cetera. Many and multifarious are the tools of the oppressor! But let me tell you, this Ladysmith Black Mambazo outfit, they seized that seemingly-oppressive sobriquet and reclaimed it, and repurposed it, subverted it such that in so doing, they robbed it of its power or maybe, just its bad power. And filled it back up with a better power.
You have to admit, it's a pretty kickass band name. It has a ring to it!
This is a perfect example of why I say: #1, always go into a concert with an open mind. You got to give a band a chance to shine, and to blow you away and your preconceptions as well and maybe - if you're lucky! To enlighten you some. Some "consciousness-raising," - which they sure did for me! And #2, never turn down a free show somebody invites you to, unless of course you had prior plans.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, man. I tell you, having now seen them first-hand, whatever ladies they get I am sure it's consensual, and well-deserved. And I'm sure the act itself is a mutual celebration of the fullness of each other's totality and being and stuff, because you could just tell with these guys, how they shake it. They give good value! And all I did was see them perform songs. They strut their stuff let me tell you! I love a showboat. If you've got it then you got to strut.
Anyway, that goes to show maybe a little lesson for you readers as well! Not all feminists are prudes you know. It's not necessary to oppose oppression and fight patriarchy by denying the natural totality of one's own being.
Takes a hell of a band to put on a hell of a show to teach a dude like me a lesson like that, although, okay I guess I kind of knew that already in spades but fuck - some lessons are worth relearning.
As many times as it takes.
Thank you for tonight's lesson, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.