• An Amazing night of Native American Music: River People Music Fest Review

    25 Ene 2011, 21:00

    Thu 20 Jan – River People Music and Culture Festival

    Thu 20 Jan – River People Music and Culture Festival

    I had the pleasure to attend one of the most remarkable events in music history. The River People Music and Culture Fest included an awesome line up of talented native american artists, most with connections to North Carolina. Without a doubt, every performer gave their all and rocked the house that night!

    The show opened up with traditional music. Cherokee/Lakota musician, Cody Blackbird played a hand drum song and flute song as opening act. Next,Pura Fé joined the Deer Clan Singers for a set of traditional iroqoui and saponi songs sung in unusual and beautiful harmonies. The group got the packed house into singing a call and response song.

    13-year-old Lakota John (Lumbee) appeared on stage next and sang a few blues songs. He picked his guitar as if he were someone four times his age. He was joined on stage by his sister Layla Rose, his father and Cary Morin (Crow). Who says Indians can't play the blues??!!

    Next, the gorgeous singer, Jana Mashonee took to the stage with her band in a beautiful rendition of "The Enlightened Time." She performed a few numbers from her new album, New Born Moon, including a cover of the song "A Change Is Gonna Come," which she noted was written in North Carolina.

    Finally, she sang her classic dance hit, "More Than Life." But the star of this last performance, was a Hoop Dancer who appeared on stage doing nonstop acrobatic acts that wooed the sold out crowd.

    Dark Water Rising was the next act. The group recently won "Debut Band of the Year" at the Native American Music Awards, and they well deserved it! First of all, the lead vocalist is a former American Idol contestant, Charly Lowry. With the other two female band members, the group's harmony and vocals are out of this world! There sound is clean and tight, and they mix a lot of genres that comes together so well.

    The group performed a number of great songs, including "Over My Son," "Brownskin," "Native People," and "Same Old Thing." But the most memorable tunes were introduced as new songs: "Hometown Hero" should be making its way up every music chart in the country. The song's message to a deceased loved one left many tearful eyes in the audience. My favorite song "Just As Free," was so catchy that I caught myself humming it the next morning! This group's set ended too fast and had me wanting more, more, more!

    Next up, was the legendary (and one of my favorite singers) Pura Fé, who once travelled with an a capella group called Ulali, but now has picked up the slide guitar and released 4 solo albums. She now tours with the Pura Fé Trio. The trio consists of Pete Knudson on cajon and Cary Morin on guitar. She performed several songs from her last CD, Full Moon Rising. The bluesy rock song, Borders was my favorite and the crowd's too as they reacted with roaring applause and shouts. The Trio ended their very short set after only four songs with a version of "Summertime." I must admit I was a little disappointed in the short set, after waiting the entire show to see them, but the next songs made up for it.

    Finally, the trio left Pura Fé alone and she called the other female performers on stage to perform a few Ulali songs. This was probably my favorite part of the evening. The group sang "Grammah Easter's Lullaby," "Che chega way' and "My People, My Land" in beautiful harmony. The songs touched my heart deeply, and Pura Fe's final vocal on My People, My Land was powerful and mesmerizing!

    The event closed with a ceremony recognizing Lumbee singer-songerwriter Willie French Lowery with a Lifetime Acheivement Award. Unfortunately, with the event pushing four hours, I had to leave and didn't catch much of Mr. Willie Lowery's set which featured Pura Fe' and the ladies from Dark Water Rising on backup.

    Overall, the River People Music and Culture Festival was beyond what I was expecting, and quite possibly the best concert I've attended in a long time. Native American artists are often ignored so it was awesome to have a spotlight on so much native talent in one place! Hopefully, this will become an annual event that would showcase native talent from across the nation.

    Lakota John:


    Deer Clan Singers: