“An artist’s main job is to reflect his or her time. That’s the job. With any luck we can actually, per chance, illuminate, shine a light, strike a match, curse the darkness. Thats if we’re lucky . . .”
Those words came from Tomás Doncker just over three years ago during our interview with him upon the release of his riveting release, The Mess We Made. (Click here to view the interview) That project, quite without intention, was born from what was for him the literal life-numbing response to hearing about the atrocious killing of nine African-Americans inside a church located in Charleston, SC, murdered by white supremacist Dylan Roof.
Doncker, a super busy, accomplished singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer and impresario of the successful label, True Groove Records, shut himself down to everything except his guitar and a means to capture his thoughts in response to that heinous act. In doing so what emerged was the essence of what we asserted then was, “an incredibly impressive, provocative, no holds barred, scolding of our country and of our society, but not without a few suggestions of things we can do to get right.”
Fast forward to 2020 and it seems nothing has changed even in the throes of a pandemic. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and then the world witnesses the last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of George Floyd’s life, extinguished with cavalier disdain by Minnesota officer Derek Chauvin as three others watch and assist. But in the weeks that have followed the ensuing outrage and volatile protests seem to have signaled enough is enough as the cry, “Black Lives Matter” and demands for the change in laws that facilitate these racists acts and limit prosecution ring loud. It’s some the of change Doncker was talking about three years ago.
The seemingly tireless, prolific and versatile artist just this May released a tribute record to legendary Blues artist, Howlin’ Wolf called Moanin’ at Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project, that is receiving rave reviews. But with all that’s going on now and because he is indeed one of those artists he spoke of in the aforementioned quote, it’s no surprise he’s also chronicling the times and offering hope in the midst of what’s going on now.
Case in point, two impressive videos he’s released – The latest, “Blood & Concrete” with the True Groove All Stars ft. 1/2Pint and “Wherever You Go” released in May. Both speak to what we’re living through now, but in stark contrast. The former, a compelling documentation of the decades – long abuse of Black lives at the hands of police and its enraged response. The latter, a beautifully shot message of hope, evoking calm and affirmation in the midst of the pandemic. Viewing them both it’s clear, Tomás Doncker is a consummate artist who does his job well.