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Keith Secola Gets Humble for the Muse

 

CHRISTINA ROSE

 

 In 2011, musician Keith Secola joined the iconic ranks of Jimmy Hendrix, Hank Willams, Crystal Gayle and Richie Valens in the Native American Music Hall of Fame. Winner of seven Native American Music Awards, Secola is now expanding his repertoire with a pop-style opera that he hopes will bring an important message to America. His most recent album, Life Is Grand, is his seventh, and includes an updated punk version of “NDN Kars” and “Say Your Name”, a song about the boarding schools.

Secola was interviewed the morning after he played a show on Friday, December 12, at the Native American Children’s Benefit Concert held at the John T. Vucurevich Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. The event was to raise toys for children.

How was the show last night? How was the crowd?

Good! The shows are growing, more awareness is happening. Barriers are falling and it seems like we are all stuck in this economical boat together; people are starting to realize we better wake up.

I am seeing a large mixture of people, which is good for Native artists because we need to bust out and get into the mainstream more, but I don’t ever want to do concerts without attracting our Native people.

Where was the biggest venue you ever played?

In the ‘90s I played with Nirvana, and David Bowie was on the bill. It was a festival in Denmark, with 20,000 people singing "Ya Heya Hey," like that. That was great. I've been in the underground and crossing over more and more into mainstream.

How do you see your music crossing into the mainstream?

I think the new album (Life Is Grand) is going to be the quintessential protest album of 2012, only I have to disguise it, like Dickens' Christmas Carol. I have a rock opera called Seeds, and there are marginal creatures and adult fantasy. The heroine was sent by the grandfathers to bring virtues to this earth because she is sick.

So it’s social commentary?

Exactly that.

What was your process in writing the opera?

It took years of writing, and writing is difficult! I started writing it about six, seven years ago. The songs have lyrics and melody, and it’s not some new age, ‘Look at this Indian with the flute’ and the audience fills it in. This has dialogue, long, meaningful, songs, with to-the-point lyrics.

That was the hard part, trying to write without being pretentious about it, because we can’t be so serious, either. You have to write with a sense of humor, and also have to look at the criteria -- one, Is it entertaining? Two, is it philosophical? Three, is it spiritual in nature? And four, is it metaphysical in nature, so people can draw their own meaning to it?

The first song is called “Song For The Marginals”. And we say, "Come out, come out marginal creatures! Now is the time to dance under the sun, because we have been dancing under the full moon for a long time, and now it is our time to reclaim the sun!"

So is that how you see this time of change for the world?

Well, I think the best thing we can do is transform ourselves. The most powerful thing we can do is become like, from night to day. For our native people, it’s hard not to abandon our consciousness because we are so ingrained to take care of each other.

It is so ironic to be a self promoter. You know, you have to toot your own horn, you have to step in front of people and that is just not our ways. For me, my career has taken a long, uphill swing, but it is a long, slanted hill and I am still going up and still becoming vital.

What are some of the challenges of becoming successful?

As Native people, we have become as fearful of success as failure. You mean I can have money in my bank account, you know, without thinking about others? Prosperity, often times, it gets replaced with what we think of as greed. The whole material wealth thing is kind of a symbol of a weak human being, like we are too tied to this material world. So you know, there are so many cultural things that crisscross.

Does religion play a part of any of that?

One thing I think is beautiful is the pluralism on the reservations, for instance my friends the Brave Hearts-Iron Crow. When the mom passed away, she had a minister, a gospel band playing rock music, a Lakota medicine man, the drum. There is such a pluralism that exists in Indian Country. At the same time, I see where people are very religious, and they are stuck in the dogma about that.

I think we can get beyond religion by becoming spiritualists, we can become mystics where we don’t have to see so much color of skin or race, and you can see people as clear. If you stand in a puddle of water long enough, even rubber boots will leak, and America has been standing in this puddle for two centuries and more. So the permutation of the bohemian cultures, the hippies, the Indians, we’re starting to multiply.

My good friend John Dinsmore from The Doors told me that the silence in salsa music is for the sorrow of the earth. Even though it is upbeat, the music has hesitation to it, and it is to remind people to remember the sorrow remains in the earth even when you have prosperity.

Do you have message for the world that needs to be heard?

I think we are seeing the mystery beginning to unfold before our very eyes. The music is going to unfold it for us. The muse is behind it, and the muse is not going to come into the room if there is a lot of egotism, so when you are writing a song you have to be humble, you have to be real gentle with that creative spirit. It only comes when there are pure and good feelings, sincerity. It leaves the room when the ego is so involved and thinking that I am the one -- but she will open up doors for you, she will show you things.

That is why I say the mystery is going to unfold before our eyes: the mystery of love. And it ain’t such a mystery. It ain’t so mystical. It’s so simple, really. It’s not complicated. Happiness is not complicated. Kindness is not complicated. Love is not complicated. It is something we were born to do.

October 2011.  RPM.fm - NDN Cars composer and music legend Keith Secola was honoured this year with an induction into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. Anishinaabeg blues rocker Keith Secola now carries the title of “Hall of Famer” after receiving the honour at the 2011 Native American Music Awards. The NAMA YouTube channel recently posted the presentation video of Keith’s Hall of Fame moment. The video consists of a history lesson narrated by Keith himself and a fantastic testimonial by Oneida comedy pioneer and legend Charlie Hill.

 

YouTube: Winona LaDuke introduces Keith Secola inducted into the NAMA Hall of Fame  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtITrdDTMps  


YouTube: Keith Secola NAMA Hall of Fame presentation & acceptance  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mZQg0Ge4pw

October 2011.  RPM.fm - NDN Cars composer and music legend Keith Secola was honoured this year with an induction into the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame. Anishinaabeg blues rocker Keith Secola now carries the title of “Hall of Famer” after receiving the honour at the 2011 Native American Music Awards. The NAMA YouTube channel recently posted the presentation video of Keith’s Hall of Fame moment. The video consists of a history lesson narrated by Keith himself and a fantastic testimonial by Oneida comedy pioneer and legend Charlie Hill.

DRUMS music video, produced by John Densmore and Keith Secola, featuring John Densmore on drums and Floyd Red Crow Westerman on guitar, both on vocals: http://www.youtube.com/user/sandraschulman#p/a

August 7, 2009. Native American Musician Keith Secola Chats With Around the Mall. Musician Keith Secola has played his unique blend of music all over the world and this weekend he graces the National Museum of the American Indian’s 2009 Indian Summer Showcase.  Smithsonianmag.com

June 2009. KEITH SECOLA: BREAKING BARRIERS THROUGH MUSIC.Secola’s latest project is a rock opera, an all Native American song revue on which he has been working for the past several years. “It’s about a lot of things, about the loss of virtues and the misbalance of the natural world,” he said. “They’re songs for marginal creatures, which could be the environmentally endangered species, species of the animal kingdom, and of the Native kingdom, as well.” Secola has recorded 17 of the songs already and plans to premier a few excerpts at the Kennedy Center this August. Secola wants his listeners to grasp a metaphysical understanding from his music. “I think we can touch individuals so that they bring their own meaning to the songs,” he said. “I think in that way we are acting as shamanic healers in a sense. Making people sing and dance, just like our healers do.” (AJ Naff, Indian Gaming Magazine) Read Full Article

August 6, 2007.  "ANISHINABEMOIN" CD NOMINATED FOR 2 NAMMYS, WITH SECOLA CONTRIBUTING TO THREE OTHER NOMINATED CDS. 
Award-winning musical artist Keith Secola with language teacher Karen Drift receive two 2007 Native American Music Awards nominations for their first collaborative CD "Anishinabemoin", nominated for Best Historical Recording and Best Linguistic Recording. The groundbreaking CD, recorded primarily in the Ojibwe language by Karen Drift, features the music of Keith Secola who also served as Producer. Ojibwe is the second most widely spoken Native American language, by more than 40,000 Ojibwe, Chippewa and Anishinabe people in the United States, with additional tribes in Canada. When he was in college, Secola fulfilled his language requirement at the University of Minnesota by studying Ojibwe, his tribal tongue. With this recording, Secola and Drift, as well as the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa are preserving and encouraging an integral part of their culture for future generations.  Keith Secola also appears on three other Nammy nominated CDs this year, as producer of Thoz Women language drum CD, as musician and co-producer of Eli Secody "Rhythm of a Songmaker" (Best Male Artist nominee) and as a contributing musician on Moontee Sinquah "Soul Force" (Best World Music Recording nominee). Preliminary ballots cast by the National Advisory Board members of the Native American Music Association determined nominations. The winners will be determined by final mail-in ballots from the Advisory Board members and voting by the general public at http://www.votenative.com.  NAMMY winners will be announced at the 2007 Native American Music Awards Show on October 6, 2007 in Niagara Falls, New York. 

February 28, 2007.  KEITH SECOA, KAREN DRIFT TEAM UP ON 'ANISHINABEMOIN'.
"T
he new CD by that name - ''Anishinabemoin'' - is a gift from Drift, award-winning singer/songwriter Keith Secola, and the Bois Forte Band and Akina Records. The CD combines the voices of Drift and her granddaughter, Larissa, speaking words, phrases and short stories in both the Anishinabe language and in English with the supporting music of Keith Secola, a Bois Forte member who most recently won the Best Folk/Acoustic CD award at the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards for his latest work, ''Native Americana,'' and the Artist of the Year award in 2006 from the Native American Music Awards."

 BOIS FORTE BAND CREATE LANGUAGE CD WITH AWARD-WINNING ARTIST.
Keith Secola knows how important language is to preserving one’s culture.  So when members of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa discussed the idea of doing an Ojibwe language CD with him, Secola enthusiastically agreed to provide whatever assistance was needed.  With Secola’s help as consultant and producer, the first language CD titled “Anishinabemoin by Karen Drift with Keith Secola” is now ready for release under the newly created Bois Fort Band of Chippewa Music & Akina Records label.  Karen Drift and her grand daughter Larissa provide the language lessons on the CD, with background music performed by Keith Secola on acoustic guitar and native flute.  The repetitive nature of the lessons on the CD mirrors lessons taught naturally through oral traditions with the music providing a peaceful, restive atmosphere for thoughtful listening and learning. “Anishinabemoin” official CD release is scheduled for January 25, 2007, at the Bois Forte Heritage Center, 1500 Bois Forte Road in Tower, Minn., from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Keith Secola is the recipient of many music awards including Best Producer and he recently won Artist of the Year at the 2006 Native American Music Awards. As a singer/songwriter, Secola’s music includes songs in English and Ojibwe, as well as Native American flute, pow wow drumbeats, with a mix of influences from native rhythms, rock and americana roots music. Joining Keith will be Karen Drift. Besides her work on the first language CD, Karen Drift also offers courses in Ojibwe language

 IRON RANGE, MINNESOTA - NATIVE AMERICAN SINGER HELPS THOSE IN NEED. Secola, a group of performers, raise food shelf donations, money for heating costs.  "Keith Secola, who feels blessed for his gift of music and his heritage and upbringing on the Iron Range, is once again providing an offering to the community in which he was raised. The award-winning Native American recording artist will merge his talent and bond to the area in two concerts this weekend to raise money to help low-income families stay warm and well-fed this winter. The third annual Keith Secola & Friends Benefit Concert and Silent Auction will take place Friday at the Lincoln School Auditorium in Hibbing and Saturday at Goodman Auditorium at the Virginia High School. Doors will open each night at 6 p.m. for the silent auction; concerts will begin at 7 p.m."

 WINNIPEG, MANITOBA CANADA - KEITH SECOLA WINS BEST FOLK/ACOUSTIC CD AWARD AT THE ABORIGINAL PEOPLES CHOICE MUSIC AWARDS.
apmca

   WINNIPEG, MANITOBA CANADA - KEITH SECOLA AND "NATIVE AMERICANA" NOMINATED FOR BEST FOLK/ACOUSTIC CD IN THE INAUGURAL ABORIGINAL PEOPLES CHOICE MUSIC AWARDS.  The awards honor the best in Aboriginal music. The APCMA show will take place in Winnipeg during Manito Anbee: A Festival For All Nations on November 3rd at the MTS Centre. Final round voting now underway until October 13th.

 HOLLYWOOD, FL - KEITH SECOLA NAMED ARTIST OF THE YEAR AT THE NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS SHOW.  Keith Secola arrived at the Native American Music Awards show at the Hard Rock Live venue in Hollywood, Florida, leading all artists with five nominations for his widely acclaimed CD Native Americana. At the end of the night, top winner Secola walked away with the Artist of the Year Award, with Native Americana winning in three categories including Best Folk/Country Recording. Winning the Artist of the Year award means a lot to Secola as the Nammys are also voted on by the general public as well as music industry members. In his acceptance speeches, Secola briefly recounted the long journey it took to get the recording released and also asked Native artists to record more songs in their native languages. Native Americana includes a version of This Land sung by Secola in Ojibwe. During the show, Secola performed his debut single Old Trader, followed by a medley of Frybread with Ulali as backup singers, and ended with a rocking version of NDN Kars. Later that night at the VIP Party at Paradise Live, John Trudell and others joined Secola onstage during the after party impromptu jam session that lasted till early morning. 

WOOD, FL - ARTIST OF THE YEAR KEITH SECOLA BIG WINNER AT NAMMYS, "NATIVE AMERICANA" honored with three Native American Music Awards.

 "NATIVE AMERICANA" NOMINATED FOR A RECORD FIVE NAMMY AWARDS. SECOLA TO PERFORM AT NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS SHOW AT HARD ROCK LIVE JUNE 8TH.  Keith Secola's latest CD Native Americana leads this year's nominations in five categories including Artist of the Year, Record of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Best Folk/Country Recording. John Densmore, who performs on Native Americana, also received a nomination in the Native Heart category. Native Americana is hailed as Keith Secola's best recording to date, a masterful collection of Secola penned tunes and arrangements that weaves the musical fabric of Americana and Native influences throughout each song. Officially released last September, the widely acclaimed CD by music critics and fans alike generated sales throughout the United States and Canada, across Europe and in Japan. Secola kicked off the first leg of the Native Americana Tour last fall and promoted his new release  in live concerts from coast-to-coast and on various radio stations throughout the country. One of the premier performers for over a decade, Native Americana marks Keith Secola's fifth full-length CD and fourth recording nominated for multiple NAMMY Awards.Secola is scheduled to perform at this year's NAMMYS Award show.

KEITH SECOLA, AUDIO COUP ON AMERICA.
Music critic J. Poet visits with Keith Secola, one of America's finest songwriters, in the latest issue of Native Peoples magazine. Excerpt: "Secola has produced three cassettes and four full-length albums, but NATIVE AMERICANA trumps them all. The album's 16 songs weave blues, rock, swing, folk, country, pop, Latin and Native influences into a politically charged tapestry levened with Secola's sly wit."
  Read the full article in Native PeoplesJan/Feb 2006 Issue, on news stands now.

COMEDY "CHRISTMAS IN THE CLOUDS,"  FEATURING KEITH SECOLA'S  MUSIC, DEBUTS IN MOVIE THEATERS NATIONALLY BEGINNING DECEMBER 2ND.  The award winning indie-film by director and producer Kate Montgomery began its limited pre-release in California on November 4th, with proceeds to benefit California's neediest schools. At the post-movie release party in Los Angeles on November 2nd, Keith Secola and band provided the evening's entertainment. The movie features Keith Secola's signature song "NDN Kars" and a new song written by Secola especially for the movie release, the rocking "Christmas Time" performed by Keith Secola and Wild Band of Indians.  A movie review in Oprah Magazine December issue declares, "a funny, spirited December charmer that will put you in a festive mood without leaving you with 'Jingle Bells' overload."  Official Movie Website: Christmas In The Clouds 

TOWER, MN - KEITH SECOLA KICKS OFF NATIVE AMERICANA TOUR IN BOIS FORTE.
In support of his new release "Native Americana" Keith Secola returns to his roots to begin the first leg of the NATIVE AMERICANA NORTH AMERICAN TOUR. He performs tonight with the Wild Band of Indians at Fortune Bay Resort & Casino in Tower, Minn., joined by John Densmore, founding member of The Doors and an honorary member of the Wild Band. The set will include songs from Native Americana including the debut single Old Trader,Kokopelli Blues featuring John Densmore on drums, as well as a few of The Doors classics.

 NATIVE SON KEITH SECOLA GIVES NEW MEANING TO AMERICANA. "Native Americana, officially released this Friday, September 9, is Secola's fifth full-length album -- a bouillabaisse of styles, all integrated with American Indian flourishes, whether it's the rhythm, the flute, or Secola singing in Ojibwa, as he does on his cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land."...Native Americana is just further proof that Keith Secola is far more than a niche artist; he's an amalgamation of this country's musical heritage." Read article, Brendan Joel Kelley, Phoenix New Times

NATIVE AMERICANA, NEW KEITH SECOLA CD SET FOR SEPTEMBER RELEASE. Keith Secola's long awaited CD Native Americana is due out September 9th. It's a musical journey from a major American songwriter as he sings the stories from the many trails he's traveled through this North American land. The sixteen tracks on the CD moves your spirit and then lifts your spirits higher. As with all Secola lyrics, songs tend to have a deeper meaning, while some embrace the fun and humorous sides of life. In either case, you'll find yourself swaying to the acoustic and slide guitars while your feet move to the pounding drumbeats. The first two singles from Native Americana are "Old Trader", a ballad to a time that's gone past, and "This Land", a new arrangement of the Woody Guthrie classic ("the earth is our mother, we belong to her").  It's roots music, it's bluesy rock music, it's native music -- when it's from Keith Secola, it's simply Native Americana music. 

NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Secola Rocks Niagara Falls.  During the extended Fourth of July weekend, a huge crowd turned out for the Rock the Falls outdoor concert featuring Keith Secola & Wild Band of Indians and Creedence Clearwater Revisited.  Joining the extended Wild Band family, special guests Pura Fé added soulful vocals and slide guitar while Gary Farmer wailed along on his harmonica. The night ended with a spectacular fireworks display celebrating the July 4th holiday. The Seneca Niagara Casino provided the special weekend festivities.

GRAMMY Magazine, FEATURES - Native American Pop Moves Toward The Mainstream. A number of artists have the near-term breakout potential that could springboard the genre... Keith Secola (tribal affiliation: Anishinabe) could be the Native Bruce Springsteen. His music talks about the day-to-day lives of Native Americans in language any working-class American can relate to. Secola's songs "Frybread" and "Indian Cars" are already standards on reservation radio. His fierce performances with Secola's Wild Band Of Indians made fans out of Jerry Garcia, Jim Creegan of Barenaked Ladies, Doors' drummer John Densmore and other rock heavies. He's just finishing work on his seventh self-produced album, Native Americana. (GRAMMY.com, J. Poet) Read full story GRAMMY Magazine

 VIRGINIA, MN - Benefit planned to help restock food shelves, soup kitchens. Former Ranger, Native American Keith Secola, to perform. "It has not been such a good year for local food shelves and soup kitchens, with donations on the low end. Still there are plenty of children in the area who are “going to bed hungry and getting up in the morning without breakfast,” said Sandy Wallin of the Range Mental Health Center in Virginia. Former Iron Ranger — musician and songwriter Keith Secola — is doing something about it." Read full article, Angie Riebe, Mesabi Daily News

  WASHINGTON, DC - With the illuminated Capitol Dome in the background, Keith Secola brought hundreds to their feet at the Saturday evening concert celebrating the grand opening of the Smithsonian's new museum.  Keith Secola joined thousands of Native Americans in DC, from all over the Western Hemisphere, to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. The museum opening kicked off the six-day First Americans Festival featuring many traditional and contemporary Native American performers and artists. Secola performed three shows throughout the week on the Four Directions main stage, with a special performance in the museum's rotunda during an evening reception. Pura Fé of Ulali and Kevin Locke joined Secola on stage Saturday night, where a high-spirited audience did a round dance on the National Mall grounds to the unofficial Native anthem "NDN Kars."

 TEMPE, AZ - Keith Secola, 'backwards like a sacred clown.' Long stretch in an Indian car, 500 years is long enough.
"Keith Secola has just put a $20 bill in the stamp machine and now has a handful of Sacagawea coin dollars. Whether Secola is at the post office or onstage singing "NDN Kars" to raise dollars for the return of Wiyot land and fight against new uranium mining on the Navajo Nation, he is the quintessential Anishinabe of folk rock ’n‘ roll..."  
Read article, Brenda Norrell, Indian Country Today

VICTOR, NY - Keith Secola and John Densmore celebrate "Earth Rhythms & Beats" at Ganondagan, historic land of the Seneca.

Keith Secola@Ganondagan 2004

The weekend festival of celebration closed each day with a special concert from Keith Secola and Wild Band of Indians, with guest musician John Densmore, original and founding member of the legendary rock band The Doors. Secola wowed the crowd from a song list of fan favorites and mixed in a small dose of The Doors with Densmore reprising his signature drum beats. Densmore humorously informed the crowd that Secola reminded him of a peyote version of Jim Morrison. During "NDN Kars", musician John Stokes also joined in on the didjeridu, a traditional aboriginal instrument from Australia. Earlier at nearby GrassRoots Festival where Secola is a perennial festival favorite, the surprised crowd of thousands cheered wildly when Densmore joined Secola on stage for his Friday night set.


CANADA - APTN concert series features Keith Secola performing many of his classics.  Catch the APTN Mainstage thirteen part concert series, showcasing North America’s top aboriginal artists, on Canadian television. Tonight's listing: "Keith Secola, One of the most established performers on the scene... In this concert he performs many of his classics, including the haunting 4R Ancestors and Innocent Man as well as getting the crowd hopping with Fry Bread and NDN Kars." Check your local APTN program listings for times and additional shows. Upcoming broadcasts: Mon August 9 9PM CST, Sat August 14 10:30PM CST, Sun August 15 7PM CST.  APTN.ca
( Migwetch to Brenda in Vancouver BC for the new times. ) 

May 15, 2004. PHOENIX, AZ - Keith Secola performs at local Bo Wilson Music Festival.

Keith Secola@BO WILSON FESTIVAL 2004Young children share the stage as Keith Secola performs at the 2nd Annual Bo Wilson Music Festival in the Phoenix area. The festival honors the memory of veteran bluesman Bo Wilson, Arizona Blues Hall of Fame 2000 inductee, and an enrolled member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. (photo courtesy Lee Hyeoma)









February 6, 2004.  FARMINGTON, NM - Bedard, Secola, Native Roots and others - Red Road lyrics for a cause. "Irene Bedard, Keith Secola and Native Roots teamed up with Navajo performers to celebrate fallen warriors and victims of Cold War uranium mining, in a blend of new sound to herald the Diné Bidziil movement." Read full story, Brenda Norrell INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY

November 15, 2003.
Native American Music Awards 2003ALBUQUERQUE, NM - Keith Secola wins his fourth straight NAMMY award, BEST PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, at The Sixth Annual Native American Music Awards show, held at the Isleta Casino & Resort. Secola through his Akina label plans to continue producing new artists and work with other musical entities on current and future projects, as well as on his own music.




Native American Music Awards show 2003During the show, Secola helped present the NAMA's Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award to his good friend John Densmore of The Doors, who occasionally tours with Keith and shares in the 2002 Best Blues Recording NAMMY for "Kokopelli Blues".



    Keith Secola and the Wild Band of Indians at GrassRoots Festival

- written by Laurie Davis, July 30, 2002

I waited two years, crossed a border, drove seven hours, and lived out of tent for the first time in twenty years, to see Keith Secola perform at the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg NY. It was worth it.
The GrassRoots Festival may have been the perfect venue to fully appreciate the ever- evolving, always glistening, web of musical connections that is Keith Secola and the Wild Band of Indians. In three performances over three days Keith Secola did what I suspect he does all the time --- reinvent each song each time it’s played with a changing cast of musical characters. The band members and musical guests somehow never fail to find and work with the inspirational thread that Keith spins with an artistry that is only partly obscured by an uncanny mixture of humility and mischief.
Friday night’s performance of Frybread saw him bring Brooklyn’s Little Egypt on stage with him as the ‘Frybread Messiahs’, and this tune was brilliantly reshaped and served up as edgy, happening hip hop that rode the back of the late night crowd’s energy. Compared to Friday's rock performance, Sunday afternoon’s version of NDN Kars was a traditional round dance lead by Moontee Sinquah --- and a study of Keith’s gift for engaging and playing with the audience. Urging the crowd to create an ever-widening circle (“If you’re not part of the problem, become part of the problem”) the round dancers eventually encircled the field and a handful die-hards still resolutely determined to be passive spectators. And when, at the end of the song, the hundreds of dancers all stood still, panting, exultant, hands holding arms aloft Keith declared war against the uninvolved with “Charge!” And, finally, if somewhat hurriedly, they moved.
He’s a powerful performer. He can rock a crowd awake to a dancing frenzy with one song and lure them into respectful attentiveness for another, just moments later. He’s a singer, songwriter, master guitarist and flute player who leads his band and audience along with him as he prospects for silver in all the musical genres he calls home --- rock, blues, ballads, and the music of the First Nations. Keith Secola’s music braids these diverse sources of inspiration into a sound that is uniquely his and may be best described by the title he’s given to the CD he is now working on - Native Americana. Free of finger-wagging, blaming and the righteousness of identity politics, Keith’s music involves and engages everyone.
Before Sunday afternoon’s performance, I overheard a woman talking with Keith. She told him that a few years ago, during an earlier festival, she had been woken by his music from a dead sleep. (Trumansburg is a sleepy little village when the festival is not in town). Unable to go back to sleep, she had gone to watch the performance and now, every year, attends with the hope that he will be there.
There really is something quite remarkable about Keith Secola’s music that should not, and cannot, be missed. #
Laurie Davis is a freelance writer from Ontario, Canada