MOENKOPI, Ariz. - The Legacy Music Fest 2013, which takes place Oct. 5, seeks to build on the history of the Hopi Cultural Connection by keeping live reggae music going strong on the Hopi reservation.
The Hopi Cultural Connection consisted of five community members who, with help from family and volunteers, brought top reggae performers to Hopi in the 80s. The five members were Tim Randolph, Gery Gordon, Marvin Allison, Ron Allison and Ron Honyouti. Some are still helping to bring reggae music to the reservation.
The first Hopi Cultural Connection show took place at the Hotevilla Bacavi Community School and the band was called Sons of Captivity. The group's next show was bigger with Freddie McGregor and Michigan and Smiley on the bill at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center in Kykotsmovi.
James Surveyor, from Moenkopi Developer's Corporation (MDC) and promoter for this year's Legacy Music Fest, said the shows in the 80s featured big names artists who played in a remotely located huge gym in the middle of nowhere. People came from all over to see the shows, many from neighboring tribes and communities on the reservation, and far reaching border towns and cities.
"Oftentimes the performing artist would want to come to Hopi and only Hopi and they would not do anything other shows in the Southwest," Surveyor said. "That kind of history is definitely relevant to what we're doing here in Moenkopi with music because that's the history of it."
He remembers that the shows were something different and new and that the message in the music was of family, unity, peace and harmony and echoed Hopi beliefs.
"When I was in the third grade the one thing that hit me profoundly, even at that age, was that we had people from differ -ent generations who were all together," Surveyor said. "On my left was an elderly couple who were enjoying the show, to my right were children like me and families all around, people I knew all around, it brought us all together."
Surveyor said from that day he has always had a special affinity for reggae because of those memories. He believes that the Legacy Music Fest is a way for people to feel that connection again.
The Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites put on the music fest during the Western Navajo Fair in October 2010 for the first time with artists from Flagstaff. The show took place in the conference center with bare walls. But it sold out, with about 250 people in attendance.
Now in its third year, the Legacy Music Fest will bring national and international acts to the Hopi reservation to a community that is not quite 5,000 people. Some of the groups on the bill are used to playing in Europe in front of stadiums of 20,000-30,000 people or in California in front of 10,000 people but Surveyor said they come to Hopi for a specific reason.
"They come to Hopi because of that history, because of that connection with the Culture Connection, they enjoy that, they enjoy being off the beaten path and they enjoy being out of the city and being closer to traditional cultures and nature, it's very energizing to them," Surveyor said. "A lot of them do believe in the lyrics that they sing as far as unity, mother earth and all those things that reverberate throughout Hopi."
Surveyor said the bands on this year's bill know are excited to play music for the community because of that history at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center.
Surveyor said one of the challenges of the music fest is introducing new artists to the crowd.
"We do look for conscious artists who will entertain and bring the community out because there's not much going on," Surveyor said. "It's rewarding especially when people are enjoying the music and the message," he said.
Moenkopi Developer's Corporation (MDC) is a non-profit whose mission is economic development-to create jobs, create opportunity and help the Hopi community. While the group focuses on Moenkopi, it also promoes the Hopi experience as a whole. Any profit goes back into the community or to help MDC put on more events that help the Hopi community.
More information is available at experiencehopi.com.