By Lauren Wise
By New Times
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Chief among them is the scheduled appearance of Native American rock trio Blackfire. The group, which hails from Black Mesa, plays a socially and politically charged blend of alt-rock, punk and ska that separates them from the bulk of FM party radio fodder. Blackfire's punk cred is bolstered by the fact that C.J. Ward of Ramones fame served as producer for the group's last long-player.
The trio -- composed of siblings Klee (guitar, vocals), Clayson (drums) and Jeneda Benally (bass) -- has been making waves with its focused and serious message, which stems from the Benallys' birth into the Big Mountain section of the Navajo Nation, an area whose recent history has been marked by a serious land dispute. While its success at home and abroad (the group recently toured Europe and won raves in the overseas music press) has been growing, the group continues to keep its connection to the indigenous community with day jobs as breeders, raising churro sheep, whose wool is used to create hand-woven rugs, a key cultural and religious element of Navajo life. The musicians also double as part of their father's traditional dance troupe, the Jones Benally Dancers. Jones Benally and his wife, Berta (an Anglo folk artist), are also scheduled to perform at the Mind Jam.
The Mind Jam will have plenty of local flavor as well. A small army of Valley bands will make the trek north, including Big Blue Couch, Tolerance, Fred Green, Buddha Base Process and the Hammertoes, among many others.
The event will also feature daily screenings of independent films focusing on the environment, poetry and spoken-word readings and, get this, daily workshops featuring healing arts demos, Zen shiatsu, intuition, incense making, t'ai chi, reflexology, yoga, live paintings and chi lel and chi gung. Anyone who knows Bash & Pop knows there's nothing I enjoy more than some serious chi lel and chi gung action.
The festival is being held at the Coconino County Fairgrounds (off I-17 at Pullman exit 337) on Saturday and Sunday, May 27 and 28, starting at 10 a.m. For more information, go online to www.earthmothermindjam.org or call Zepicon Productions at 480-894-9894.