For most of 2009, Lomayesva's been touring Hard Rock Cafes all over the country with Native Music Rocks, a music festival sponsored by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which owns the Hard Rock chain worldwide (but not the Las Vegas location). Lomayesva was chosen to join such Native artists as Grammy Award-winner Micki Free and RCA Nashville recording artist Crystal Shawanda because of his message, according to Tina Osceola, chief historic resources officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

"It's his political and social message," Osceola says. "It's not just about partying and listening to good music — which is what ends up happening when you see Casper — but if you listen to his message, you'll learn a lot not only about Hopi people but Native Americans in general. I think Casper's doing the same thing for his people that Bob Marley did for his."

"He's a role model for others. I have a 10-year-old son who has to listen to Casper's CDs every morning on the way to school," Osceola adds. "I think reggae gives kids a purpose. The message is a positive one — it's about peace and life."

Jamie Peachey
Casper Lomayesva  got into reggae when Culture Connection began bringing Jamaican artists to the Hopi Reservation.
courtesy of Casper Lomayesva
Casper Lomayesva got into reggae when Culture Connection began bringing Jamaican artists to the Hopi Reservation.

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For more information about Casper & The Mighty 602 Band, visit their MySpace page or their Facebook page.

To hear a few songs from Casper Lomayesva, visit our Music blog Up on the Sun.

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Though his albums can be found only at live shows and at Drumbeat Indian Arts, off 16th Street and Indian School Road in Phoenix, Lomayesva says he is making a good living touring and playing live — at Valley shows, regional reggae festivals, and reservations and casinos all over the United States. And he's got other opportunities on the horizon.

First, he plans to spend the entire month of October recording songs for his as-yet-untitled fourth album. His label, Third Mesa Music, is also scheduled to release a solo CD by his bass player, King Roach Banks, by the end of this year.

Third Mesa Music has grown from a hobby into a thriving business, and Lomayesva has had to hire an accountant and get incorporated. "I'll admit it — I've been audited by the IRS twice," Lomayesva says. "After that, I wasn't gonna mess around. Like my accountant told me, 'This is not a hobby anymore, Casper, it's a business. Treat it as such.'"

He has never had a manager, so all the details of touring — booking shows, flights, rental cars, hotel rooms — fall to him. He also has to make sure his band members get paid. "It's too much, sometimes," Lomayesva says. "The work has been coming so fast lately that I almost can't keep up. That's never happened before."

Lomayesva frequently returns to his childhood home on the Hopi reservation to perform and speak to students at Hopi High School.

"Casper's vocal against crime and problems on the reservations, and trying to push youth in a more positive direction," says Macadio Namoki, development and marketing coordinator for Hopi Radio (KUYI 88.1 FM). "He's also an advocate for keeping our traditions and our language. We really support his work. Whenever he comes out with something new, we feature it."

Namoki says Lomayesva has also supported Hopi Radio, which has a weekly reggae show on Thursday nights. When Lomayesva played at Madison Square Garden this past spring, he handed out promotional materials for the nine-year-old station. "Casper's a really fine artist," Namoki says. "A lot of youth here look up to him because they see what he's accomplished."


Casper Lomayesva is all business on a sweltering afternoon in mid-September; he's rehearsing with a new keyboard player at Perfect Timing Entertainment on Seventh Street and Pierce. It is the first time this musician has played with Lomayesva's band, and he is dripping sweat while he goes over and over the melody on one of Lomayesva's new songs.

The song is called "Serious Man," a slow-tempo roots reggae number bolstered by three-part vocal harmony and melancholy organ. Lomayesva says he wrote the song for his mother. The chorus goes like this: "Mama, I'm a serious, serious man / Not gonna joke with no heathen / Mama, I'm a serious, serious man / And I won't play with policeman."

"Serious Man" is a reflection of Lomayesva's growth as an artist and a person. He could not have written it 30 years ago, when he was an "incorrigible youth" from a broken home on the rez.

"I wanted to tell my mom I'm serious about living now," he says. "I'm not treating my life like a joke anymore."

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3 comments
CRASH
CRASH

how are brother, i just kicking back jamming to the jah music. just wont to send you and your family a holday blessing. jah love take care CRASH

Jamie
Jamie

It's great to hear positative things about Native Americans. It's great to just hear about Native Americans we're always in the back row. I know the white man always says we tread on this being our land but, when we r trying to make our own money, they (the white man) always tries to take their cut or limits us on how spend it. And they put us on the REZ so we won't prosper.... Great job guys. It comes from the HEART!!Keep it up, from ur Native Sister!!!!

Robert
Robert

Great article! Glad to see the New Times doing a music-based cover story about something besides the latest flavor-of-the-month band or rapper wannabe. Now, how about doing an article about the band Blackfire?

 
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