Tag Archives: Strong White Male

The Best Punk on Bandcamp: April 2019

bc

“Experimental duo Mecca Normal have never followed trends. Their output over the course of their 30+ year career has centered around David Lester’s expressive guitar and Jean Smith’s fearlessness, both in thematic content and in vocal delivery. Which is what makes Brave New Waves an important part of their discography—not only is it the band’s first live album, it also features Peter Jefferies, who played with Mecca Normal briefly in the 1990s, on drums. Recorded in 1996 for broadcast on a now-defunct CBC radio program, the songs hit just as hard today as they likely did back then.

The seven-minute long mashup of “Man Thinks Woman,” “Strong White Male,” and “I Walk Alone,” three powerful feminist anthems, is particularly noteworthy. Over Lester’s defiant, and at times repetitive, guitar, Smith riffs on the white male patriarchy and the power of a woman walking alone through city streets. During live shows, Smith often leaves the stage during “I Walk Alone,” walking through the crowd and ad-libbing without a mic; on this record, we hear her do just that, her voice trailing off, while Lester plays a walking blues-ish guitar line. But it’s all a feint—a few seconds later, she comes back with a bang, growling: “Because it’s my right to walk anywhere, at any time of day, in any city, wearing whatever the fuck I want to / I walk alone.” It’s no wonder the Vancouver band served as an inspiration to the women who would go on to form Bikini Kill.” – Kerry Cardoza, BandCamp

LISTEN/BUY

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Alternative Toronto Archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Black Wedge Saskatoon

Black Wedge Tour, Saskatoon, 1987

Dr. Lilian Radovac (media and cultural historian at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga) presented an introduction to the award-winning Alternative Toronto archive at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The archive includes Mecca Normal’s “Strong White Male” video directed by David Lester (1987) with additional references to the ‘part way across Canada’ Black Wedge tour in 1987.

Alternative Toronto:

A tour of activist resistance culture organized by Jean Smith of the band Mecca Normal, which set out to “spread the word of how to combine poetry, music and politics and have a fun time doing it.”

The Black Wedge was an anti-authoritarian response to Britain’s earlier Red Wedge, and began on the West Coast in 1986 before continuing across Canada in 1987. The performers included Vancouver’s Mecca Normal, San Francisco’s Peter Plate, Montreal’s Rhythm Activism and Toronto artists Bryan James and Mourning Sickness.

To learn more, read this excerpt from Smith’s essay “The Black Wedge Tours: Take Something You Care About and Make it Your Life” in Sounding Off — Music as Resistance / Rebellion / Revolution, eds. Ron Sakolsky and Fred Ho, (New York: Autonomedia, 1996).

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Cover: Strong White Male

Late last year I got a FaceBook notification that someone had mentioned Mecca Normal. It was very early in the morning, and when I clicked on the link, I really did have a sense that I was still in dreamland. The video snippet (Instagram) showed London band Best Praxis rehearsing Strong White Male “a cover by the amazing Mecca Normal” for a fundraising show two days hence. The band description: “non-binary and female people of colour taking up space. We make DIY punk music.”

Very timely with the Man Thinks Woman / Strong White Male / I Walk Alone medley on Mecca Normal’s new album: Live in Montreal, 1996!

Best Praxis rehearsing Strong White Male before the show (below)

The show!

Mecca Normal opening for The Julie Ruin in Portland, 2016

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