XXIX. mbira mbizo and mbw

my thumb, my mbira

Something had me reaching for my thumb piano, my mbira, which I picked up at the gift store of the University of Maine concert center gift shop while on tour with Front Porch Blues in 2002. It is made in Burkino Faso from a sardine can imported from Algeria. In many parts they call this thing an mbira — others call it a thumb piano.

Mbizo was the middle name of Johnny Mbizo Dyanni, the South African bass played who was in residence at Dartmouth College in 1970, with Don Cherry and Okey Temiz. I am pretty sure there is a biography of Dyanni under the title “Mbizo”.

MBW are my initials, for Mark Bennett Weiss (the street I lived on in South Side of Chicago the first four years of my life, Bennett and 91st I think).




About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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2 Responses to XXIX. mbira mbizo and mbw

  1. markweiss86 says:

    I was going to take a picture of my thumb piano that I bought at University of Maine performing arts center gift shop, in 2002, while on tour with Henry Butler and the Front Porch Blues Tour (Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Corey Harris, Deborah Coleman) that was made out of a Algerian tin sardine can and then someone in Burkina Faso, presumably after eating said morsels, fashioned a thumb piano, which is also in some places called an Mbira. Not being much of a linguist when it comes to the African continent, the word “mbira” reminds me of the South African bassist Johnny “Mbizo” Dyanni, who was in residence at Dartmouth with Don Cherry in 1970, and also played with Steve Lacy. There is a book somewhere called “Mbizo” his autobiography. MBW is my monogram, Mark Bennett Weiss, named for my paternal grandfather and the street I lived on in 1964, in Chicago’s South Side.

  2. markweiss86 says:

    Okay, I admit it. It was Eric Lindley who performs as Careful that made me reach for my mbira (or truthfully, it made me re-name my “thumb piano” an “mbira.” It took me three months to finally post about Careful per se:

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