Summers gone... leaves are fallen... the air is cool... nights are longer, days are shorter... Orion is rising. Seems like the summer flew by. I guess it did. Did a series of presentations for the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, The Museum of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. Had the blessing being in Khap'o Owinge for our annual feast day in August. Twin Rivers had a couple of cool shows at the end of the summer: a gallery opening in Pojoaque just north of Santa Fe during Indian Market and the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque. Summit Dub Squad and Los Coyotes have been rockin' the local scene in Flagstaff and working hard in the studio to get out new music. I've recorded a couple of new songs for a 4th solo album as well. Time and money are the obstacles to getting out new music. The songs are written and ready to be recorded, but those two roadblocks stand in the way. Summit would like to have an album out by the end of the year. I'd like to have a new solo album done by then as well. The Coyotes? We'll see... new music will be posted as it rolls out of the studio. In the meantime, the beautiful fall days are full of inspiration for me as I work on my jewelry and painting at the museum. I've been trying to slow my travel and develop a better rhythm for my artwork. The mountain has been calling as well, and as I run the trails that crisscross over the peaks, my heart is inspired to 'live consciously'.
Just got back from Montana, and tho I'm kinda numb from a hectic pace, I also feel empowered. My trip to Montana marks the end of a month long "tour" that kicked off my summer. The "tour" began with a two day trip to Moab, UT with Summit Dub Squad. We played two nights, Friday & Saturday, June 14-15, @ Woody's Tavern. Had a blast experiencing the town and the landscape around it, and hanging with the Squad. Sunday, June 16, was back on the Road. My second son, Rylan, (who plays bass for Twin Rivers) picked me up in Kayenta, AZ, and we traveled to NM. Spent some beautiful time with my kids and granddaughter during the day and rehearsed with Twin Rivers at night. Buses were full Tuesday night, so I asked my boy to drop me off outside of town so I could hitchhike back to Flagstaff for a gig with Summit Dub Squad at Wheeler Park on Wednesday, June 19. Slept along the interstate, and the next day spent six hours hitchhiking in the June heat. A Russian Rocker who loves Joe Satriani & Ibanez guitars finally got me to Flagstaff with minutes to spare. Played the show with Summit and headed for the bus station to get to the Albuquerque Sunport to fly out to Indianapolis, IN for the Eiteljorg Museum's annual Native Arts Show, June 22-23. Of course, the buses were full again, but a self sacrificing friend drove me all the way to Albuquerque. I missed the plane, spent the night with my uncle in Albuquerque, and caught the next plane out at 4:00am. After a six hour layover in Baltimore, I finally staggered into Indianapolis. Performed with Twin Rivers and sold artwork over the weekend at the show. Started to feel like a flu was workin' on me Sunday evening :( Flew back to the great southwest on Monday. Caught a shuttle from PHX to Flagstaff, and took a very necessary rest for a couple of days to shake the bug. Went out to Hopi for a dance at Tewa on Friday, June 28. Enjoyed the dance on Saturday, but blazed back to Flagstaff that night for a five hour solo show at the Greenroom... (still trying to shake the bug). Worked the next day at the Artist's Gallery where my artwork is displayed. That evening played with Summit Dub Squad at the Firefly Gathering, then caught an all night train to Riverside. Spent next four days, July 1-4, in the mountains of Idyllwild, CA working on jewelry with Navajo silversmith, Richard Tsosie... (still trying to shake the bug). Came back to Flagstaff on an all night train on the 4th of July to play with Summit Dub Squad at a benefit for the fallen Firefighters of Prescott. Saturday and Sunday, July 6-7 was the 80th annual Hopi Show. Performed and sold artwork at the show, and had a double header playing guitar & vocals for Los Coyotes and drums for Summit Dub Squad Saturday night... (still trying to shake the bug). Helped a friend move some stuff out to Hopi on Monday, traveled to Phoenix on Tuesday, and flew out to Missoula, Montana on Wednesday... (still trying to shake the bug). Missoula was just what I needed to recover from the fast pace of the previous weeks. Visited the Native American Cultural Center at the University of Montana campus, met with radio staff, had some valuable interaction with a professor of linguistics. Hiked around the passes that Lewis & Clark traveled as well as generations of the Indigenous people of the area. Visited the Big Hole Battle site where the Nez Perce fiercely fought off a U.S. Calvary attack in their 1700 mile long trek to Canada in 1877. The mountain air, courageous history, and inspiring company I experienced in Missoula was just what I needed to heal my body and recharge my batteries. Though I feel a bit numb from all I have experienced and seen over the past weeks, I have a strong sense of empowerment. Kundawohaa, navi Sedo!!! Going into the studio this week to make some noise... Blessings! :)
It's been a super busy spring thus far. I've been blessed to have shows in Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Shonto, Moencopi, Jerome, Hopi, Phoenix, etc. It's awesome to experience the culture and landscape of spring in the Southwest.
I've also had the blessing this spring of becoming a 'Qua-ah' (grandfather). My eldest daughter gave birth to my first grandchild on May 17th. It's an amazing experience to hold a grandchild in your arms. 'Povi' (Flower) is a beautiful girl. Even her cry seems to be a song. Very Grateful :)
In the midst of solo music work, I've also been blessed with some great friends in the music world. Summit Dub Squad is a reggae/hip hop group that I play drums for. The group is currently in the studio recording a new album. Twin Rivers is a collaborative project with Adrian Wall. An interview with myself and Adrian is published in the most recent issue of Native Peoples magazine. Los Coyotes is a brand new reggae trio from Flagstaff. The band consists of Hunter Redday on Bass, Andrew Baker on Drums, and myself on Guitar & Vocals. A new solo album is in the works as well. 7 new songs that have been inspired by my time in Flagstaff will be featured on "Shadowed by the Mountain".
My father once told me, "Art is not a career... It's a journey." The path that my Guidance has set before me as I create and perform music has indeed been a journey. Realizing that each day and each opportunity is a gift, I give thanks for the blessing of the journey.
I don't usually get too nervous before I play. At the beginning of a show, I choose a song that will give me courage and get me into a groove. But when I play for my own people, I freak out. It takes me a couple of songs to get the shakes out when performing for Pueblo audiences. My music is based on the virtues, values, and vices of the culture I grew up in. I carry my community in my heart, and am inspired to write songs by the burdens and strengths of my people. When I play for them, I feel that I am giving back what they have given to me, and I hope it's understood and appreciated. This past Wednesday, I had the blessing of playing for the Hopi Tewa Women's Coalition to End Abuse (HTWCEA). The event was held at the Hopi Veteran's Memorial Center. I didn't play until the end, but I wanted to hear what was said at the conference, so I hopped the Hopi Senom Transit from Flagstaff (some friends had already taken my equipment) and spent the day at the conference. The theme of the conference was, "Aw pitu! Itam yu-a-a totani", ('It's here! Let's talk about it.') Sexual abuse on the reservation was discussed from many angles. People from the various Hopi villages attended the event to listen, talk, and pray about the issues.The presentations were sometimes heavy, but nonetheless, moving and inspiring... I was grateful to be there. For my performance at the end, I was characteristically nervous as hell to play for my people. I voiced a prayer, greeted my listeners, and tried my best to be a blessing. I played five songs: 1. 'Loloma' (my composition) is a prayer for the healing of our people. 2. 'Someday' from the legendary intertribal rock band, XIT is an anthem of hope and empowerment for Native American nations. 3. 'Down in The Vil' is a reggae song that I co-wrote a couple of years ago in tribute to the strength of the Hopi people. 4. Redemption Song from Bob Marley reminds us that it is the hand of the Almighty that makes us strong. 5. Exodus from Bob Marley prompts us to action. To move forward in our lives with courage and faith. It was both humbling and an honor to be part of an event that plainly and directly addressed the evils of society, and encouraged us to speak out to receive what everybody in this world seem to desperately need... Healing
The song 'Down in the Vil' was written with the band, 'From the Ashes' (FTA - Korey Herrera, Lars Kabotie, Rylan Kabotie). Korey laid out a chord progression, Rylan responded with a bass line, I laid down the drums, and words came as we played. The song's lyrics are a simple reflection on the richness of my childhood - "Down in the village we've got so much to add". The song mentions Hopi relatives: So-ohs (grandmothers), Qua-ah's (grandfathers), Kya-ahs (aunts), Dahas (uncles), Siwas (younger sisters), Kaakaas (older sisters), Tufkos (younger brothers), Vavas (older brothers); and Tewa relatives: Yiyas (mothers), Taras (fathers), Tay-Tays (grandfathers), Sayahs (grandmothers), Ko-ohs (aunts), Mae-maes (uncles), Tiyus (younger siblings), Pares (older siblings). The chorus is my personal lamentation of being away from my home for so long. "Aw, forgive me. I left one side down in the village." The second chorus substitutes "Aw, forgive me" for the Hopi mourning expression "Ah-eh". The song concludes by mentioning each of the villages of Hopi by name from east to west. I was privileged to grow up in the Tewa village of Khapo Owinge (Santa Clara Pueblo) and the Hopi village of Shungopavi. Twenty years away have made me appreciate and long for home and to acknowldge that "down in the village we've got so much to add."
Down in the village we've got so much to add. (Repeat) Our So-ohs, our Qua-ahs, our Kya-ahs, our Dahas: so much to add. Down in the village we've got so much to add.
Down in tha Vil':
Down in the village we've got so much to add. (Repeat) Our So-ohs, our Qua-ahs, our Kya-ahs, our Dahas: so much to add... Our Siwas, our Ka-kas, our Tufkos, our Vavas: so much to add!
Aw forgive me, I left one side! (x3) Aw forgive me, I left one down in the village!
Down in the village we've got so much to add. (Repeat) Our Yiyas, our Taras, our Taytays, our Sayas: so much to add. Down in the village we've got so much to add.
Down in the village we've got so much to add. (Repeat) Our Yiyas, our Taras, our Taytays, our Sayas: so much to add.,, Our Ko-ohs, our Maemaes, our Tiyus, our Pares: so much to add!
Ah-eh, I left one side! (x4)
Tewa Owinge, Sichomovi, Walpi, Polacca, Mishongnovi, Shipaulovi, Shungopavi, Kykotsmovi, Oraibi, Bacavi, Hotevilla, Moenkopi!
Down in the village, yeah! Down, down, down, down in the village. Down in the village we've got so much to add. (Repeat)
My recent struggles with the law and substance abuse are not much of a secret. I'm grateful for the thirteen months of sobriety that are currently under my belt. I don't try to make promises to people about what my life will look like in the future. I just try to live life "one day at a time" and focus on the perfect balance of the universe. This reminds me that my Guiding Spirit (Navi P'oowaahaa) is my center. My life is progress not perfection. There are slips and mistakes along the way, but my Guidance continues to direct me in a path of blessing.
The song, "Brown in This Town" was written during my last stay at the Coconino County Detention Center. The song is a somewhat bitter reaction to the overwhelming Native and minority population in the facility, and the seeming leniency given to people of caucasian background.
There are two aspects to my legal troubles: the human and the Divine. The Divine is the grace of God in giving me a strong wake up call, and a stiff structure of accountability to redirect my life. The human is the startling severity of the court system on myself and my Native brothers and sisters.
Recently, a Coconino County felony DUI judge was arrested for extreme DUI. He spent no time in jail, was not charged for the open contatiner in his vehicle, and was not subjected to blood work even though he confessed to taking three oxycodones. Perhaps you can guess his race... not trying to be critical of the man, I'm just sayin'.
Brown in This Town:
Ten thousand years ago our people walked into this land. Around this sacred mountain we left footprints in the sand. The Whiteman seems to think that we should hush our sacred song. Don't they realize without us all their revenue'd be gone... In this town?
Well, I'm chillin' with my lady at the Rezwood Tuesday night. Sittin' with her there all the world seemed to be right. They shut the place down early, so we cruised on to the store To buy a pack of smokes, and head home to chill some more. We left the store and hit the road thinking we would turn in, But a city cop was in the bushes starin' at our skin. He flashed his lights and pulled us over, to my great surprise, He sent my lady walking, slapped on cuffs, and took the ride; because you...
Can't be Brown in town. You can't be Brown.
So I'm sittin' in a holding cell at Coconino Jail. Wondrin' how the heck I'll come up with cash for bail. Throughout the day, throughout the night they bring in more and more. The thing they had in common was the shade of skin they wore. After sleeping on the concrete, we're called up to be arraigned. The only White guy in the place got out that very day. So, we're sittin' here waitin' for our court dates to arrive... Nava-Hopi, Mexican, a couple Colored guys, because you...
You can't be Brown in this town. You can't be Brown in this town. (Flagstaff, Arizona) You can't be Brown in this town. You can't be Brown in this town.
Well, if you're Brown make a sound to remind this town That every Babylon system comes crashing down; Because liberty and justice is tainted and rusted: What Jah-Jah sees, I say He is not pleased.
Well, if you're Brown make a sound to remind this town That in the day we go up they cannot bring us down; Because we will not stop until the mountain top When our prayers for the nation bring us restoration.
Now while the tourists come to see the Native culture in this town, The cops are busy gathering up what Redskins can be found. And they desecrate our mountain, and the sacred sites we see, But we refuse to be what you wanted us to be... But still you say,...
You can't be Brown in this town. You say I can't be Brown in this town. But you aint never gonna bring me down, Because my fathers' hands built this town.
Grateful for my children. Grateful for my friends. Grateful for the sun, the wind, the moon, the stars, and the privilege of living under the shadow of the mountain. Had a great show this weekend at the Flagstaff Brewing Company. Opened up for the local band, Dub & Jefferson Washington. Had great support from friends & family. An unexpected blessing was a group of Hopis that came in to see the show from the reservation. They are the inspiration and focus of my music. They energized the show by dancing and yelling with the spirit of Paamuya. Blessings to all for your support and encouragement.