Terrell’s Tuneup: REZ BLUES
A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
August 21, 2009
Did the blues spring from the stomp dances of southeastern American Indian tribes — runaway slaves taking refuge in nearby tribal communities and finding kinship in the Indian drums?
* “Witchi Tai To” by Joy Harjo. This is a fascinating reworking of a tune I first heard by the old hippie folk duo Brewer & Shipley (who were most famous for the cannabis-themed country-rocker “One Toke Over the Line”). B & S got the song from American Indian sax man Jim Pepper, who adapted it from a peyote chant. Harjo, a poet who plays sax, recorded this for her 2008 album Winding Through the Milky Way. She plays with the melody, turning it to a minor key and adding new lyrics.
* “It Was in the Old Times” by Butch Mudbone. This is one of the best tunes that combines traditional chants with bluesy rock.