Fourth annual legacy music fest brings reggae to the Reservation

Errol Bonnick and Odyssey Band perform Oct. 11 at the Legacy Music Festival at the Legacy Inn on Hopi. Photo/Tyler Tawahongva

Errol Bonnick and Odyssey Band perform Oct. 11 at the Legacy Music Festival at the Legacy Inn on Hopi. Photo/Tyler Tawahongva

MOENKOPI Ariz. - On Oct. 11 Legacy Music, the entertainment arm of the Legacy Inn on the Hopi reservation, put on its fourth music festival.

According to Legacy Music Promoter James Surveyor the number four has great significance to the Hopi people.

"Casper, the Hopi artist, played the first festival so we invited him back this year to perform. We also combined sound from different backgrounds from Native American, the Pacific Islands and Jamaica in the lineup this year."

Honey, a female Navajo Hip Hop artist, DJ Young Native, Tribal Theory, Errol Bonnick and Casper all performed.

Honey is originally from the Blue Gap area but resides in Salt Lake City. She describes her sound as R&B mixed with Hip Hop. She credits support from her family for getting this far in her music career.

"They believed in me and kept pushing me," Honey said.

She appeared in Canada over the summer at the Nemaska Music Festival which was her biggest gig yet.

Tribal Theory, from San Diego, also performed. The band is a unique combination of different ethnicities from such places as Guam, Samoa, Mexico and the U.S.

"I got influenced to play reggae by doing Polynesian dance, which has a melodic Island feel," lead singer Nico said.

Errol Bonnick and the Odyssey Band were on the bill to round out the Jamaican sound. Bonnick and members of the band are of Jamaican descent and from different parts of Jamaica. According to Bonnick the band's members performed in the hotel industry. Bonnick had the privilege of touring with the late Gregory Isaacs and performed some of his hits during his sets with the legendary Peter Tosh, which were well received by the crowd.

The Odyssey Band has been together for about a year and are working toward releasing a CD. Bonnick, a Rastafarian, said the positive message of the music must be spread to the four corners of the world because the music is spiritual.

"I am continuing the work of the fathers of love and beauty," he said.

While waiting to perform, Bonnick was greeted by a father and son he met at the local sandwich shop who came to see him perform. Bonnick was happy to see that they came and appreciated the family-friendly event.

James Surveyor described the all age's family event as a way to spread the good vibes of the Hopi and Moenkopi. He referenced Culture Connection and the work they did to promote reggae on the reservation by bringing major reggae productions to the Hopi reservation in the 80s and 90s. Surveyor has promoted converts from major reggae acts such as Junior Reid, Morgan Heritage, Pato Banton and Warrior King.

"Hopi is not a casino tribe so we don't have the budget like some tribes to bring acts to Hopi," Surveyor said.

He appreciates the support of the Village of Upper Moenkopi and the Moenkopi Developers Corporation for supporting music at the Legacy Inn. He has also started a music networking group in Arizona which recently put on a meeting at the Green Room in Flagstaff featuring reggae artist Pato Banton.

Hopi reggae artist Caper was this year's headliner.

"I am honored to be invited to perform at the event. I am honored to be a part of any event," Casper said.

Casper said he appreciated Surveyor's efforts to bring reggae music to Hopiland. He described it as the second generation of reggae in Hopi.

"I don't mind if I am second generation I am just glad to still be doing music," he said.

Casper is currently dividing his time going to college, holding down a fulltime job and playing music. He has a busy schedule but still finds time to rehearse and do performances.

For a few years Casper travelled internationally with the Native Music Rocks project through the Seminole Tribe in Florida. The project brought Native artists to remote reservations to promote Native American musicians and to encourage music in tribal communities.

"In some areas there would be a room full of instruments that no one knew how to play," Casper said. "We would come to a reservation and wherever they had a space like a gym we would setup and play for the students. There is some real talent on the reservation that we tried to help cultivate with workshops. Unfortunately, with an administration change in the tribe, they didn't see the importance of continuing the program," Casper said.

The next Legacy Music show is Nov. 15 featuring reggae band Native Roots from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founder John Williams was a long time resident of Tuba City and attended school and worked there before moving to Albuquerque. More information can be found at www.ExperienceHopi.com.

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