Indigenous Voices

The Native American music scene gets in tune with a new radio show

When the Grammys -- notoriously the most staid of all the entertainment awards (remember Jethro Tull beating out Metallica as outstanding heavy metal band back in '89?) -- puts its stamp of approval on a growing genre, chances are it's already reached the point of critical mass. Such is the case with NARAS' inclusion of a Native American music category in the annual ceremony.

The popularity of the movement has been bolstered in recent years, thanks in part to a fresh wave of both modern- and retro-minded artists who have scaled new commercial and critical heights. On a local level, 97.3 FM KRXS (which also airs Jukebox Cantina, Stu Baker's country program on Saturdays and Sundays) and Art-N-Soul Productions are readying the launch of Native Nights, the first Valley radio show in nearly 20 years to exclusively feature Native American music.

Native Nights premières Tuesday, August 22, and runs from 8 to 10 p.m. According to host Dwight Miles, the playlist will run the gamut from the traditional sounds of the Apache, Pima, Navajo, Hopi and Tohono O'odham tribes to the more updated noise of artists like R. Carlos Nakai, Clan/Destine, Keith Secola, Indigenous and Blackfire. The program will be part entertainment and part political/spiritual forum, boasting interviews and news from tribal leaders and activist organizations. KRXS' signal can be picked up on 97.5 FM in northwest Phoenix or on 103.1 FM in the Ft. McDowell/Fountain Hills/Payson area, as well as online at www.krxs.com.

To coincide with the launch of the show, Native Nights is sponsoring a CD release party for Hopi singer Casper (who will also perform in studio on the Native Nightsdebut). Casper's third full-length effort, Sounds of Reality, is being put out on his own local imprint, Third Mesa Music. The label is also home to several other prominent Arizona heritage artists including Red Earth and Root Awakening.

The show is scheduled for Thursday, August 24, at the Bash on Ash in Tempe. The Rastafarmers and Nomad will open the bill. Cover is $8 ($6 with student I.D.), and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Atlatl, a nonprofit organization that serves Native American arts and artists.

Zine It All: With this month's sale of Zia Records to a group of Scottsdale investors, most folks might have missed the other big company-related news. The retailer's long-running in-house music publication, the Zia Zine, has undergone a major makeover. Starting with the August issue (featuring the clean-cut kids from Pantera on the cover), the free monthly has expanded its size and changed from newspaper to magazine format. Editor Anita Jackson has packed 37 percent more into her "Zine News" (which boasts gads of juicy Internet music gossip), plus incorporated extended features (this month's include Steve Earle, the Jayhawks and a guide on how to piss off novelty song kingpin Dr. Demento), as well as the usual reviews, local sales charts and tons of other miscellanea. The Zia Zine can, as always, be found at any of the six Arizona Zia locations, but is also now available at a host of other Valley shops and restaurants.

Give 'Til It Hurts: The recent midweek Sally Timms/Jon Langford/Alejandro Escovedo bill at the Arizona Roadhouse proved to be one of this year's true concert highlights. The evening ended, coincidentally enough, with all three artists joining for a lighter-raising rendition of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes" (see story on Ian Hunter, page 104).

After unsuccessfully trying to keep up with Langford in a lager-off for much of the evening, Bash & Pop awoke the next morning a bit dazed and clutching a little blue card from the previous night's festivities. The note bore a curious preprinted message from Sally Timms -- "Help Sally to Help Herself! Become a Music Patron."

Reading further, we were taken with Timms' revolutionary idea and felt obliged to share it here.

Rock 'n' Roll Patrons Urgently Needed

Ever been to a rock show and wondered what it would be like to spend quality time with your favorite underground band . . . even thought about taking them home after the show? How about feeding and watering them for a few days, giving them pocket money and possibly having them live in a shed at the bottom of your garden?

If any of these ideas actually appeal to you, you may be on your way to becoming one of the first rock 'n' roll patrons ever.

Patronage of the arts is nothing new, of course. For centuries, painters and musicians have relied on wealthy benefactors to come up with funds so they can dedicate themselves to producing their art. Take me, for instance. I'm 40 years old and I've given the best years of my life to rock and roll. Things are getting very tough for marginal bands nowadays. Of course, you might assume that the endless rounds of free drinks and wild parties more than compensate for any financial hardship, but it's not quite the glamorous life many people imagine. The hours are long, the pay is negligible and liver transplants are expensive nowadays.

Where is this all leading, you ask yourselves? Well, this is where rock patronage comes in. I am looking for patrons to help me complete my next record. I don't need to raise much, but any contribution, small or large, would be appreciated. In return, your financial contribution will get you a personalized thanks on the CD, regular updates and that warm, fuzzy feeling that accompanies acts of philanthropy. If you want to know more or you want to make a donation, contact sally@bloodshotrecords.com or write to Sally Timms, c/o Bloodshot Records, W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618-3538 (include your e-mail or snail mail address). If you would prefer to become a patron for another musician, I will try to put you in touch with them.

Please consider opening you purses and homes for the sake of our art. Adopting a musician can be very rewarding. They're often cleaner than pets, many are house-trained and they can be almost as entertaining as children.

Wings Over Emerald: With the rash of tribute bands popping up in the Valley, it seemed that the following development was inevitable. Les Payne's Chris Pomeranke and James Karnes, Trunk Federation's Chris Kennedy and New Times scribe and Pennydrop guitarist Gilbert Garcia, along with performance artiste Vic Masters, have announced their new project, Bluebird -- a group being billed as the "true Wings experience."

Perhaps an alternate moniker should've been America's over Wings, since so few people seem to actually give a damn about Paul McCartney's much-maligned post-Beatles combo.

Addressing that problem head-on, Masters says, "First we'll play all the songs people won't admit to remembering. Later, we'll play the ones they won't admit to liking."

In addition to well-known numbers like "Live and Let Die," "Band on the Run" and "Jet," the group will also be dusting off chestnuts like Denny Laine's Wings vocal showcase "Go Now" and the rarely-played-live "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," complete with complex changes and the lush tones of a kazoo orchestra.

Bluebird makes its debut (and pending how things turn out, maybe its only) appearance Wednesday, August 23, at the Emerald Lounge. Showtime is 9 p.m. And just like the real Wings, there will be no opener. Thumbs up!

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