TAOS, New Mexico, USA — "This man is, to me, a prophet!", declared Taos Pueblo recording artist Robert Mirabal on June 29 in welcoming legendary performer Harry Belafonte to the stage of the 2003 annual Taos Solar Music Festival. Belafonte did not disappoint Mirabal or the huge audience which filled Kit Carson Park.
"You cannot hold back the tide, we will turn the world around!", sang the 76-year-old, white-linen clad Belafonte, smiling and dancing to a triumphant Caribbean beat. Then Belafonte took centre stage to deliver a short, moving talk on the state of that world.
He said, in part: "Most of my life I have been a social and political activist. I intend to leave this Earth as a social and political activist! I was born in the US during the Great Depression, and I served in the US Navy in the great war against fascism. I survived the McCarthy era, when the US government tried to squash the rights of Americans. I worked with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and so many others, in the Civil Rights Movement ...
"Now, today we are in a time of great social concern. We have an administration that has chosen to manipulate a situation of anxiety and fear and to use it for their own ends... Were the American people to know the full truth, things would be very different. The US has not found weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden in Iraq. They have found Oil!.. I am sure that the great American people will rise up and take back our constitution, stop polluting the Earth, end racism and sexism and bring back democracy everywhere!"
Strong words, burning to the heart of the outrage building in America against the lies and actions of the Bush regime! The Taos audience wildly applauded Belafonte's bold statements, and danced just as wildly to his joyous music.
The Taos crowd, in their thousands, also danced for a full three days (June 27-29) to the music of politically conscious women songsters Dar Williams and Michelle Shocked, to the edgy, eerie sounds of surprising new band Eastmountainsouth (<http://www.eastmountainsouth.com>), to the wise blues of Hot Tuna and the all-stops-pulled performances of rockers John Hiatt and the Goners, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, the Subdudes, England's William Topley and New Mexico's own Red Earth and Manzanares.
Louisiana bottleneck blues wonder Sonny Landreth played lead with the Goners and sat in with other bands during the weekend. Many of these artists, Hiatt among them, also took onstage critical shots at the US regime, its policies and deceptions.
Exotic cross-cultural groups like the Latin-Slavic Devotchka and Gaelic Storm spiced the weekend, too.
The Taos Solar Music Festival, sponsored by solar-powered radio station KTAO-FM and organised by festival director Dawn Richardson, has become one of the south-west USA's top outdoor shows, while keeping its progressive political and environmental edge. Truly a place to dance in the sun in anticipation of better days to come in America!
From Green Left Weekly, July 23, 2003.
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