When you think of Native American music, you probably think of it most often as a genre, typically exemplified by the prominent roles of flute and drum, lilting windswept melodies over pulsing drum beats, words frequently limited to chanting and vocal percussion, a sound that has not only earned it a niche in New Age music circles, but spawned a host of imitators, also. South American folkloric groups long accustomed to playing similar instruments have even taken to copying their North American cousins outright in major European capitals, wearing buckskin and Lakota war bonnets while invoking the Mohicans and others by name in their effort to sell albums while busking. Hey, work’s work, I guess. Just don’t let Russell Means catch you.
But Native American music is more than a genre of course. Native American music is music made by Native Americans. In
Yes, Canada’s got a whole lotta’ music, too, not the least of which are such stars as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, so embedded are they into the American music scene that that fact is often forgotten. And yes, they have Native Americans, in a proportion at least several times greater than that of the
This year they’ve done even better. This year there will be an exclusively First Nations showcase. Since the Juno Awards are an all-week affair, it can become more of a SXSW-style event (not to be confused with the NXNE in June), complete with showcases. The Native American showcase is sponsored by Manitoba Music and will feature five of
But my personal favorite of the five groups showcased is a group called ‘Eagle & Hawk’. Likewise of Ojibway roots and Winnipeg-based, these guys maintain a healthy schizophrenia consisting of gold ol’ R&R and what I could only describe as maybe… Indian rock? This can run the gamut from the chants, strings, and ambient sounds of the ethereal ‘Water Sounds’ to the border-town honky-tonkin’ ‘Wild West Show’. Their self-reflection and mock-deprecation can even be so incisive as to be anthemic, as in “I See Red’- “I’m not embarrassed when I look into the mirror; is it fear and anxiety or just the cost of sobriety?” This is good stuff.
I haven’t been to the Juno Awards before, but I know