Native musicians highlight Native Roots, Rhythm Festival

<i>Rosanda Suetopka Thayer</i><br>
Micky Cruz entertains fans at the 2010 Native Roots and Rhythm Festival, which was held at the Buffalo Thunder Casino and Resort. The event coincided with the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market.

<i>Rosanda Suetopka Thayer</i><br> Micky Cruz entertains fans at the 2010 Native Roots and Rhythm Festival, which was held at the Buffalo Thunder Casino and Resort. The event coincided with the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market.

SANTA FE, N.M. - Where else can you get first class Native music showmanship, comedy, dance performances, spoken word poetry and the chance to shake your booty on the dance floor for four fun-filled nights? Where else, but at the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino.

Coinciding with the 2010 Santa Fe Indian Market, the 15th Annual Roots and Rhythm Festival highlighted over 20 Native American and Indigenous musicians, storytellers and comedians in a contemporary and traditional format.

A perfect complement to Santa Fe's Indian Market, the entertainers for this year's festival included such stellar luminaries such as Joy Harjo and her Arrow Dynamics Band. Harjo is a 2009 NAMMY winner for Best Female Artist and is on the founding board for Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

Native Roots, an Albuquerque-based reggae style band that incorporates both Native traditional and reggae music shared the stage with Toots and the Maytals, Burning Speark and Israel Vibration, were also featured.

Native Roots frontman "Shkeme," of San Felipe, tore up the stage on Saturday night, bringing out special guest actor-comedienne Elaine Miles, who is from the Umatilla Tribe near Seattle, Wash. Miles was brought out to help perform a special "Fry Bread Song," along with co-owner and producer Melissa Sanchez of Emergence Productions, a company dedicated to bringing awareness to Native and Indigenous performing arts.

"We're truly excited to bring Native Roots and Rhythm to the Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino this year. It's allowed us to implement a four-day long format with entertainers from the United States and Canada," Sanchez said.

Shkeme' added, "It was good to be there with all kinds of people, including established fans and some who had never heard of us. Indian Market makes an exciting venue to share our music. The crowd was in the mood for reggae and the band could sense that.

With musician Micky Cruz opening the evening show, he had the room fired up with his awesome Mayan Cumbia-reggae, which took the energy level up several notches.

Award-winning classical music performer Brent Michael Davids and his glass crystal flute also performed. Davids was recently commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra to perform his original composition "Canyon Sunrise," which debuted at the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C. for its 25th anniversary.

Miles, who was named as Native American Woman of the Year in 1993 and America's Celebrity Indian of the Year in 1995, was on hand to share her own special brand of Native humor.

FireCats of Discord featuring actor Wes Studi takes it influence from both jazz and country music. Some of the Firecats' music was recently featured in Robert Redford's Sundance film titled "Bonnie's Looskaway's Iron Art Wagon."

Studi is a permanent resident of Santa Fe and a very familiar local figure on the art and music scene in northern New Mexico.

In the Blue Tower Lounge, two live acts had everyone on the dance floor, swinging and sweating to a heavy salsa beat alternating with reggae.

Cruz, a Latin music performer with his backup band, was originally born in Nicaragua. Cruz has been performing and writing music since he was 7-years-old and just produced a new CD titled, "Cumbeque 2."

Cruz had his trumpet player, keyboardist and drummer on full tilt, adding to the dance ground action spurred on by his two front salsa dancers who shimmied to every single number inspiring the crowd to speed up their own personal dance action.

"I occasionally like to outline my music in other markets but this time we played it pretty close to what we have on our CD. Native Roots was great to play with that night. I would love to team up with them again," said Cruz.

Additional musical groups included Shakti Hayes, a Canadian based country, blue, rock and roll musician. Hayes has performed at the Kennedy Center for the Arts and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Comedian Ernie Tsosie III of the famous comedy duo "James and Ernie" was also on hand. He is currently touring with his "49 Laughs" group and was selected as "2009 Native Comedian of the Year" by the Native American Indigenous Image Awards.

At the closing, Shkeme' said, "Our show transcends all groups of audiences. We as a band just want to let them know that we're happy they are there, enjoying, dancing. I am hoping that we can get a chance to play in the future Indian Market concerts, with Katchafire, Hopi's Casper and other Native or Indigenous grassroots musicians. We have had interest for collaboration with Ky-Mani Marley, keyboard player. Anything is possible."

For booking information on these musical groups, contact Melissa Sanchez at (505) 515-8053 or e-mail


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