John Trudell - vocals; Rick Eckstein - keyboards; Mark Shark - guitar, vocals; Quiltman - vocals; Gary Ray - percussion
Native American political activist, poet, musician, and actor John Trudell made this recording in the summer of 1997 at Northern California's Black Oak Ranch, while Trudell was working on his soon-to-be classic Blue Indians album, which was released on Dangerous Disc Records in 1999.
As with all his performances, Trudell remains here an outspoken champion of the Native American cause, combining spoken-word folklore with saucy traditional tribal rhythms, blues, jazz, and rock. His shows are usually a mix of political activism with a cutting-edge traditional Native American musical art form.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Trudell's father was a pure-blood Sante Sioux. His mother was Mexican, and together they raised him on a reservation until 1963, when he joined the US Navy. While in the Navy he served in Vietnam. After his discharge from military service, he became an outspoken political activist for Native American causes.
He acted as a spokesperson for the Indian of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz prison from 1969 to 1971, and upon the conclusion of that conflict, he became Chairman of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which many felt was a radical organization.
Tragedy stuck Trudell in February, 1979, when a fire killed his wife, children, and mother-in-law. Shortly afterward, he left AIM to deal with his grief and re-organize his life. He re-emerged as poet, using his voice to bring awareness to the injustice dealt to Native Americans. In 1982, he began merging his poetry with both traditional Native American and contemporary music.
Many of his best compositions were composed with fellow Native American guitarist the late Jesse Ed Davis, who, during the early '70s, was a mainstay on the solo recordings of John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Leon Russell, as well as a solo artist in his own right. Trudell and Davis made three albums together, the first of which, entitled AKA Graffiti Man, drew rave reviews and an endorsement from none-other-than Bob Dylan, who called it the best album of 1986.
Trudell continues to record and tour, as well as appear as an actor on TV and in feature films. His 2002 album, Bone Days was executive produced by actress Angelina Jolie, a long-time supporter of his art. It was released on the Indigo Girl's label, Daemon Records.