CongaDr+ Tony's Conga Adventures: March 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tony D the Drumologist - Folklorist from Trinidad

The depth of talent and experience here in the bay is continually astounding..

You never know who has deep roots, as there are so many talented percussionists here.

We know this cat as Tony D, aka the drumologist.  I know him as a very talented trap player.. mostly hitting ska and the like..

He would come to the Rumbas from time to time, sitting in.. was always respectful of everyone and overly humble.. even though he is probably over six four or something.

Once, after a Rumba hit, we were outside.. cooling off... Trevino and Tony D busted out some Sabar drums.

And that is when I realized that Tony D. was deep water. Since then, Ive only seen him lay down his Sabar chops a few times.. entirely enough to know just how top-notch a percussionist this cat is.

Then I come to find out the cat grew up among very thick African culture in Trinidad, nearly similar to the Yoruban traditions from Cuba, Brazil, etc.

I just love how the traditions from the old country are so accurately expressed by so many distinct cultures in the new world. I guess you can add the bay to that list.

The bay is host to much talent, but knowing more about this artist, opened my eyes to just how much I dont know about the cats in the scene. 

Tony D. is beyond talented... but so unassuming and kind, it took me a while to figure out that he has many years of deep experience, reared in a powerful and prominent folkloric family in Trinidad. In fact, his relatives are of great religious importance on the island.

You can see Tony as a younger man, playing in Ceremony in the clip below.

This documentary is about his Aunte Iya Rodney, or Iyalorisha Melvina Rodney, who, amazingly, was the High Priestess of the Orisa Religion in Trinidad and Tobago.

There are many academic sources confirming her status, but the most prominent source was Cultural Anthropologist Frances Henry, who wrote about her in his work Reclaiming African Religions in Trinidad. And in this third source, she is actually used to define the highest rank of Iyalorisha.

If even the 'square academics' knew her as the religious leader, she must have been nearly Pope-like to her people.