Music and Art Monday: November 20th, 2017: Native American Heritage Month

I have been horribly lax with MAAM’s lately. Working and taking care of five little hooligans doesn’t leave much time for music or art appreciation. But Spotify reminded me that it’s Native American Heritage Month.

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Thanks Spotify

I was excited to see these playlists, as I got used to listening to KIYE while in Idaho this summer. This is probably the only station in the world to play pow-wow music, Marty Robbin’s “El Paso“, and an entire album of T-Pain, all in the same hour.

Sadly, when I clicked on the main playlist I was greeted with new aged flute music. While I understand this is certainly a genre produced by many Natives, it certainly didn’t satisfy my desire to hear the good stuff from KIYE. Some of the playlists were slightly better, but here is my version of a Native American Spotify Playlist:

Fawn Wood and Dallas Waskahat: One More Chance

This has some of that new agey flute in it, but I don’t care, I love the harmony.

Robbie Romero & Red Thunder: Ya Na Neh Yo

This is a bit of a rock song, in fact the whole album is pretty good.

Alex E Smith: Just For Old Time’s Sake

This is somewhat more “traditional” and what most people think of as Native music. Great harmonies.

Edmund Bull: Follow Your Dreams

Edmund Bull does a great blend of western country and chant that makes for a smooth and easy listen if you’re not used to some of the drums and dance circle music.

Northern Cree: She Was Gone

Pretty much anything by them. My favorite thing about them is their ability to place totally modern situations into round dance chants, like in “Facebook Drama”.

My eastern very white upbringing comes out on this one, I actually chuckled a little at the juxtaposition. Growing up on the politically correct East coast, we were taught to be anti-stereotypes to the point of being anti-culture. It was a jarring experience to come out West and see roadside stands selling beads and artworks and run by actual Natives, and even more jarring to hear them actually singing similarly to the “stereotypes” I had been taught to shun in school. Wasn’t this exploitive? Not that this describes all Natives, but the simple fact is that it is deeply intertwined into the culture.

On my very first trip to Northern Idaho in 2013 I actually had a crew boss tell us to turn off KIYE because he thought it might be considered “offensive” by some of the Native firefighter crews. Having worked with several Natives I can assure that crew boss that no, they are not offended.

If you are not stupid (i.e. disrespectful) about it, appreciating a culture for what it puts out on the public airwaves is not offensive at all. As long as you understand that there are in fact differences between tribes of different regions (for instance, teepees were a plains thing, not a SW thing) and don’t make stupid assumptions based on TV or movies you’re not generally going to make anyone mad.

Enough of that political sidetrack. Back to music. There is actually a pretty decent Playlist here of just powwow music. Look around Spotify or just tune in to KIYE or other similar stations online for some more great Native music.

Music and Arts Monday October 23, 2017: Meet Mo

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Mo at home in his cigar shop Holy Smokes

It’s been a long time since I did a M&A Monday, so I thought I would start anew with a good one.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Smokes Cigar and Pipe Shop during it’s weekly “Cigars and Guitars” night. It seems the turnout was a bit lower than normal, but that didn’t stop the shop’s owner Mo Leverett from treating us to a few of his songs.

I met Mo just before heading out on last year’s adventure to Arizona, and even from that brief meeting I knew I liked the man. Occasionally you meet someone who you just know has had an adventurous life, from his look, his manner, or his way with words. This is one of those men. That evening he told the men gathered at his shop  his testimony, and confirmed to me his interesting life. I remembered that much when walking in to Holy Smokes Friday night.

But I forgot about his music.

It’s not often that I get hooked on someone’s music from hearing a live performance of it,  possibly because I don’t get out that much, but largely because live music can often lack the quality and depth of music carefully manufactured in a studio. Mo proved to be one of the rare cases. His music almost begs to be performed live, just so he can pour his emotion into it time and time again.

So here’s my recommendation this week, go check out his videos on YouTube. In particular I really enjoy “Like Hell Inside“, “Florida“, “If You Know What I Mean“, “It’s Your Family”, and “His Claim To Fame“.

Then if you like what you hear, head on over to his site and purchase a CD or two. Or three.

You won’t be disappointed.

Why I Hate My Neighbor’s Rap Music

no crap

Someone out there is going to call me a racist for this, but to be honest, I hate the “music” my neighbors blare at random times of the week. It just so happens that my neighbors are black, and the “music” is rap.

But I’m not a racist. If you could label me anything it may be a “culturalist”. But I’m not opposed to “black culture” either. So I guess even a label like “culturalist” doesn’t fit.

Really, I just dislike any culture that denigrates any class of individual, whether they be white, black, rich, poor, male, or female. When your music contains words like “n*****”, “ho”, “b*****s”, and an abundance of the “f-word”, every other lyric, you might want to check your culture.

The over glorification of sexism, drug abuse, and violence is the sign of a dying culture.

Also, if you don’t want my children to be calling you certain racial terms, you probably shouldn’t blare them quite so loudly within 100 feet of my house.

It’s not a genre thing, my dislike of much of the music out there extends well beyond rap. I actually enjoy some rap, there are several good Reformed rappers out there who redeem the art form. It’s not the musical form, it’s the lyrics.

A fair amount of the country music out there is also junk. Rock has always been about
“sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll”. Top 40 pop rarely puts out a song that isn’t horrible. Not that pop has ever been as squeaky clean as it pretends to be, but at least back in the day they tried to use innuendo. Today it’s all about being as blatant and in your face as possible.

I know, I just sound like an old fuddy- duddy (does using that term make me one?). I need to get with the times and accept the fact that sex, drugs, and violence sell, and they sell very well. But to me, any form of “art” that reduces women into objects to be conquered should be considered anathema to a respectable culture’s ears. Any “art” that glorifies violence against others or turns self-abuse into a recreational past time should be put on the trash heap. That goes for all mediums, from music to tv to painting.

If the only thing we find entertaining is the degradation of others we need to wonder if our culture as a whole is dying. My neighbors need to seriously consider whether or not their culture is improving or crumbling around them.

I’m not seeing much improvement.