By: Harold Michael Harvey
Years ago, when I was young enough to die for my country kids grew their hair long, flashed two fingers, and raised them in the air. There was a war brewing in Southeast Asia. MyUncle Sam was adamant that I and others of my age group engage the Viet Cong in battle. Many of us thought it best to make love and not war. We borrowed from the greatest generation a symbol (“V”), which stood for victory over Nazism and Fascism and changed it to represent peace.
Amid that confluence of ideas arose a multi-cultural group of musicians in search of an identity and a name that would bridge a generational gap. They chose three letters from the alphabetic table to represent the oppose notion they sought to achieve. Such was the logic with which the first wave of baby boomers grappled with the world older adults had presented them.
I caught up with the group’s founder, Lonnie Jordan, at a pre-concert jam session yesterday and posed the question to him. What were you guys thinking when you chose the name “War.” Didn’t you know I was trying not to go to Viet Nam, I queried?
“I know it sounded crazy at the time,” he said, but we did not support the war in Viet Nam. We wanted to use the three elements of music to bring peace to the world.”
According to Jordan the three elements of music are rhythm, melody, and harmony. “I don’t care how you arrange the musical elements harmony is the key. Just like the elements earth, wind, and fire; they all have to work together in harmony. Harmony is the key.”
Jordan is the only original member of the band still touring under the name “WAR”. A
right he earned the old fashion way, through litigation.
“It’s a shame,” he said, “the only time I get to speak with the other member now is in court.”
The band was in town to perform at a Summer Benefit Concert presented by Cobb County Kia and hosted at the three acre estate of the dealership owner, Scott Smith. Jordan and Smith are long time friends.
“When Scott asked me to perform at a concert benefitting the Heart Association, I could not turn him down. He visits with me when he is in California and I stop by here when I am in Atlanta,” the group's key board and lead vocalist said.
As the sun set over Atlanta, giving way to the early moon light, which cast its haze over the swimming pool, Sal Rodriguez took his seat behind the drum set at the rear of the stage.
He was followed by Marcos Reyes on percussion, Mitch Kashmar, on harmonia, Francisco “Pancho”Tomaselli on bass, Fernando Harkles, saxophone, Stewart Ziff, vocals and Lonnie Jordan on the key board.
“Music is what we like to play” and the concert was on.
It didn’t end until yours truly, the writer, lead the audience in singing, “all my friends ride a little lower,” from War’s signature tune “Low Rider.”
It didn’t take the audience long to realize I’m no Papa Dee Allen. But it was fun and for a good cause.