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Indigenous rocks
February 1999

There's a band out there called "Indigenous" - and they rock. Holy Moses, they do rock just like the goodies we know from ancient times.

Rock is rhythm - and rhythm is indigenous. Is that right?

I don't know, but I believe it's a correct connection.

There's a lot of music out there which is offered by American Indians, Australian Aborigines and other Indigenous people. We all know of it - well, if we're not ignorant of course.

But what about "Indigenous" rock? I mean ... can they rock? Let's face it: this is a family affair ... and Sly Stone way back in the 60s had his serious doubts about this arrangement. But in the case of "Indigenous" it works. A closely knit group of minds, souls and hearts which express their feelings just as they evolve. "Indigenous" is a group of four family people playing music together for years - and that's what you can hear when listening to "Things we do".

Can they rock?

Of course, they can rock because Indigenous music is most of the time based on rhythm.

One of my favorite Indigenous groups has been "Red Thunder" who published a CD called "Makoce wakan" in 1995 on Eagle Thunder Records. This is great music, and I'm not sure whether many people have listened to their CD. Their music oscillates between folk, rock, blues and offers a truly unique flavor of Indigenous rock.

Another one - sorry, other ones - are of course by Robbie Robertson. He offers some really exciting stuff, truly American Indian music: "From the underworld of Redboy" is a CD which blows my mind off. Don't ask me why or perhaps, do it: well, it's because the rhythms and the songlines are so different from what I'm used to that it takes its time to really appreciate what Robbie Robertson has come up with. This guy is a genius. "From the underworld of Redboy" has been nominated for the 1999 Grammy for Best World Music Album. A well-deserved nomination.

"Indigenous" is no exception. Their record "Things we do" (1998) offers a successful menu: straight-forward rhythm & blues and lots of excellent rock vocals.

"Things we do" and "How far" are two excellent top-ten songs. Yep, they're great and "Indigenous" should sell millions of copies of them.

But if you like it a bit rougher, why not take the rest of the 12 songs offered by their CD? This is stuff which reminds me on blues-rock of the English kind in the late 1960s. I'm not saying that "Indigenous" are outdated, that's certainly not the case.

They're as up-to-date as you can be. This American Indian rock band translates lots of Sherman Alexie's stuff into music. I'm not sure whether the family of "Indigenous" likes that connection, but I can tell you one thing: with "Indigenous" Sherman Alexie's got a musical voice. And that ain't bad news at all, is it?

Copyright © by Eberhard Wenzel, 1997-2001