Impossible to pigeonhole
REVIEW BY SARAH STEPHEN
By Tonchi McIntosh
Order at <http://www.tonchi.com.au>
It is impossible to pigeonhole Tonchi McIntosh's musical style, which includes mixtures acoustic folk and rock, and touches of reggae and country. It is drawn together with McIntosh's soothing lyrics and the beautiful harmonies of Rob Cooper, who has performed with Tonchi for more than 10 years.
Tonchi was born in England and grew up in Bourke, NSW.
Bridges, McIntosh's debut album, was recorded in a farmhouse on Killarney Beach, Warrnambool, Victoria in October 2000. The Australian countryside features strongly in the songs. The album's title song deals with people's alienation from each other as they rush to work each day in polluted cities.
A theme running through a number of songs is a deep respect for, and connection with, Australia's Indigenous people. "Kidman" tells the story of a colonial stockman who "bought up all the country, not by the acre but by the mile, he bought cattle by the thousand and fed them on the water of the tribes". In time, there was a drought and Kidman could do nothing to stop his cattle from dying. He called on Indigenous rainmaker Tindah who, in return for two horses, a cart and rations, summoned the rain and brought it crashing down for 30 days.
"Too much wrong", written by Ray Watterson with music by McIntosh, is dedicated to Eddie Murray, an Indigenous man who died in custody in 1981: "Black and drunk and twenty one, ain't no kinda crime/Just throw him in then prison cell, and he can do some time".
"Freedom" is an upbeat celebration of the struggles of Indigenous people in every corner of this land, while "Mungindi" is a very soothing and gently sung tribute to an Indigenous man that McIntosh knew when he was growing up. In introducing the song at a recent performance in Sydney, McIntosh explained that he and his friends had pleaded with Mungindi to speak his own language for the kids to listen to.
There is beautiful poetry in the ballard, "Give it all away (Che)": "I'd like to be the first cigar that Fidel gave to Che/I'd like to be the first test hundred Bradman made/I'd like to be the key that turned and set Mandela free/I'd like to be the vision Professor Hollows gave to me."
A very captivating live performer, Tonchi McIntosh is well worth seeing if you get the chance. He will be performing with Broome artist Kerri Ann Cox at Ruckers in Northcote, Victoria, on November 29; at the Northern Star in Newcastle on December 29; and at the Glenworth Valley music festival in NSW on December 31. Visit McIntosh's web site for all his performance dates.
From Green Left Weekly, December 4, 2002.
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