Jason Morgan Edwards
Red Earth rocked The Electric 49 at this year’s Gathering of Nations.

The Electric 49 Rocks Out Gathering of Nations

Jason Morgan Edwards

The Electric 49 was loud, live and in full effect during the recent Gathering of Nations weekend. After a five-year hiatus, Ira Wilson (Navajo), revived the show for GoN 2015. The response was so positive, Wilson and his merry band of eclectics decided to do a return show for 2016.

The Electric 49 was born nearly 20 years ago. It's always been backboned by the founding members of Red Earth. "It was the brain-child of Adrian Wall (Jemez), Charley Baca, myself and Jeff Duneman,” Wilson said. “[While touring], we got to go out and see some really cool things on different reservations. We got to thinking, 'Why aren't bands like Cisco ... why aren't they seen?' We were wondering why bands like that, and Red Earth, weren't getting a chance to shine."

The concept grew from there, and became a three-hour festival. Wilson created a platform and a showcase for Native bands to get noticed. "Indigenous had its place. A Tribe Called Red had their place. But, what's the under-current? Who was really cool that people weren't seeing? We've brought on Casper and The Mighty 602 Band. We've brought on Native Roots. That was the fun, and the challenge, of it. That was the crux of the Electric 49," Wilson said.

The night began with InnaState on stage. The southwestern reggae band is led by Wall and Rylan Kabotie (Jicarilla Apache/Santa Clara/Hopi). They have developed a strong following in the short time they've been playing together. InnaState have been recording and touring for a little less than three years, now.

InnaState, a southwestern reggae band, opened the night. (Jason Morgan Edwards)

Wall is the elder statesman of the group, but the band doesn't stand on formality. With younger, and relatively less experienced band-members, Kabotie and Lawrence Bailon (Santa Clara), Wall acts not only as the musical lead, but also as a kind of uncle to them. "It's kind of cool, Man... this energy that I get from them. It's more like a family band. I really like that idea."

The band features Wall, lead guitar and vocals; Kabotie, bass and vocals; Bailon, drums; Carli Marshall, saxophone; Douglas Bellen, keyboard; and, Justin Pucila, rhythm guitar. InnaState fans can find their presence on Reverb Nation or Facebook.

Next on stage was Radio La Chusma. Translated, it means 'riff-raff radio'. Front-man, Ernie Tinajero, says about the name "Chusma means the riff-raff. The people that your mom doesn't want you to hang out with. But, usually, that's where we find the truth. We like to be the underdog, the voice of the voiceless. We're always misrepresented."

Radio La Chusma brought their Earthy fusion sound to GoN. (Jason Morgan Edwards)

Their music Tinajero equates to an Earthy fusion, and being from the border they consider themselves a melting pot of sorts.

“We play reggae in Spanish. We play it in English. We sing in Yoruba. We do music from Nigeria, mixed in with Cumba music,” Tinajero said. “It's an uplifting music. It's a celebration of it all."

Radio La Chusma features Tinajero, vocals and guitar; Marco Guerrero, trombone and vocals; Maribel Bueno, saxophone; Charly Hernandez, keyboard; Gilbert Uribe, bass guitar; Joel Osvaldo, drums. The band's music, show dates and contact information is available on Reverb Nation, Facebook and YouTube.

Red Earth closed out the night. Their sound carrying a metal edge to it while fans have come to know their style as “funky, phat, tribal stew,” a term Wall says the band coined years ago in describing their sound. Wilson adds, "The founding members came from a heavy metal background. That's what we played. Every song [we play], whether it's reggae or calypso or African-something, it's delivered with that same metal attitude. Y'know—louder and faster and harder. It's what gives us that overall edge."

Red Earth features Wilson on vocals and rhythm guitar; Wall, vocals and bass; Jeff Duneman, drums;  Christian Orellana (Peruvian), congas and vocals; Carlo Bluehouse Johnson (Isleta), lead guitar; Carli Marshall, saxophone; and John Simms, trumpet and keyboards.

Red Earthlings can get their fix on Facebook and MySpace.

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