Jason Morgan Edwards
The Jir Project Band, from left, are: Douglas Bellen, Jir Anderson and Kendall Bell.

The Blues Man from Cochiti Returns, Jir Anderson’s Latest EP

Jason Morgan Edwards
5/27/16

It's been a few years since The Jir Project Band has recorded anything new. That changed with the recent release of Jir Anderson’s brand new EP, The Pueblo.

The five-song CD features a couple of new bandmates, Douglas Bellen (bass) and Kendall Bell (drums), but, the sound, while innovative, is familiar, at the same time. Anderson says of the new recording, “I had a lot going on since the release of [Sun Child] six years ago. I really had a lot of personal things going on that [went into] this new album.

“It's a blues album about hope. I really never put myself into a genre before, but everybody always says ‘Hey, that’s blues.’ So, I embraced it.” He's not the stereotypical older, grayer, more road-weary blues figure. His lyrics and guitar riffs are “bluesy,” but his concert performances have all the energy and sizzle of a James Brown show.

Anderson cites the metal bands of the ’80s as a major influence but he listened to everything, from his parents' Elvis collection to his sisters’ favorite bands. There was even some disco thrown in to round things out. “Redbone...when I knew there was a Native [disco] group, that got me more interested. Come And Get Your Love is more disco/funk. So, I picked up on that,” he says. “Also, my parents were really into the Native group, XIT. Of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a big influence; Stanley Jordan, George Lynch. And, A. Paul Ortega was another influence.

“I think my style develops year by year. I started out on a guitar I made from one of my mom's cutting boards. I tied some wires to it, and figured out a way to tune it. I just listened to the people I admired and tried to [imitate] their styles. After I had been playing for about nine or 10 years, I stopped doing that. I started just kinda doing my own thing. I really put my heart and emotions into it,” he said.

Anderson says he draws energy from his band and within, but mostly he feeds off the crowd. “I’m jumping around, having a good time. The audience picks up on that. The age group might not be particularly drawn to the [blues], but when they see a live show, they look past that [to] just see an artist performing. And, they participate.”

Anderson describes the title track, The Pueblo, as “where I come from, Cochiti Pueblo. It really talks about all the Pueblos. We’re all similar. We're really closely tied. It [shaped] me into the person that I am. When you're going through hard times, all you have to fall back on is what you're really made of.”

Anderson borrows heavily from his own life’s experiences to create his unique sound. Anderson explained how the song Alright Tonight was inspired by life events from the last couple of years. “I went through a divorce, after 12 years of marriage. I lost one of my sons. It was a really, really hard time. I had to really open myself up and ask for help. This song is about all those people that stepped up and opened themselves up [to help me]. The song just talks about me going through that process. And, realizing that everything was going to be alright.

“I'm really excited about the new album. It's definitely my favorite [of the music I’ve done]. The writing’s real personal. But, the music [is] as well. I really let [Doug and Kendall] into the process and asked for their help on [creative direction]. We realized that we had written something really powerful. Bill Palmer from Frogville Studio (Santa Fe, New Mexico) engineered the album. He brought out a lot from me, individually, and us, as a band. Again, it’s about hope. I’m really proud of where I come from. I’m really thankful. The reservation really gives you some strong roots,” he said.

You can find The Jir Project Band’s music on Reverb Nation and on Facebook.

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Sammy7's picture
Sammy7
Submitted by Sammy7 on
If the Blues is a form of Black folk music, and it is, why is it that we Indians feel that we can appropriate the music belonging to the Black culture? The Blues was born in America by second generation slaves whose ancestry traces back to West Africa. It was born of field hollars sung by the sons and daughters of African American slaves. As acoustic instrumentation was added it became known as Country Blues because of its rough edge sound. As the Blues was spread by riverboat to towns along the Mississippi, the blues became more localized in its sounds. When electronics was added to the instrumentation the localized sounds became ever more distinctive. Think of it this way. If a Blues shuffle is played, and an Indian couple, a White couple, and a Black couple are dancing, clear differences can be observed in their dancing styles. Now, the same is true for the ear. Clear differences can be heard when Blacks, Indians, and Whites play the Blues. Once one becomes familiar with West African Musical Culture, those cultural elements can be heard in the Black Blues. They are however, absent in both Indian and White Blues. For example, in West African Culture if one meets someone for the first time in the morning, one offers a good morning greeting. However, if one meets that person a second time, the good morning greeting must be varied, and expressed differently. That creative element is one of the characteristics of the Black Blues, the riffs are not repeated but played differently each time. Non-Black blues are typically very repetitive and less creative and therefore less interesting to listen to. That is just one characteristic and there are many. It is my opinion the Blues are Black. Any attempted Indian or White efforts to play the blues should be accurately considered as Blues Like or Blues Inspired, but not the Blues. If one wishes to be respectful to the Black Culture and Black Blues players, it should be viewed in that light. Just a little food for the ears.

JirAnderson's picture
JirAnderson
Submitted by JirAnderson on
Sammy, Thanks for commenting on the story on my new album "The Pueblo." Great to hear some knowledge on the blues! I don't put myself in a genre but when I do people usually call my music Blues or Rock-Blues. I call it "music"... The musical journey has been great to me and my little earthlings and I'm excited to hear your passionate response. Keep on!! Also, stay tuned my new album "The Pueblo" will be available on iTunes June 10th 2016! Peace & Positivity, Jir - The Jir Project
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