MARCH 16, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/KeithSecolaCircleCD.jpghttp://www.rockwired.com/CapitalITimes.jpgn a musical career, all one needs is that one signature tune that resonates with listeners so that when they hear you're name, they are going to connect it with that song that brought a smile to their face or got their  head banging or in the case of  NDN KARS by KEITH SECOLA, the hairs on the back of their neck to stand up. No one needs to be reminded the dearth of  Native American artistry  on the pop music landscape unless some pop tart or hip hop guys wants to don a headdress. At least we've got REDBONE's pop classic COME AND GET YOUR LOVE still popping up in this commercial or that movie. Despite the lack of representation on the upper echelons of popdom, KEITH SECOLA (Anishinabe) has been a rock n roll troubadour who has entertained and moved audiences from throughout Indian Country and beyond with a patchwork sound that combines reggae, folk music and rock n roll. He committed this sound to tape in 1992 with his album CIRCLE with a little help from the SAND CREEK BAND and a rumbling rock anthem called NDN KARS.


Propelled by pow wow styled drumming  and a glorious guitar riff made to mimick the singing you would hear at a
49, NDN KARS is that song that an artist craves in their catalog of music. Outside of  live performance and airplay on  out-of-the-way Indian-owned radio stations, NDN KARS has earned SECOLA fans in the rock world from the likes of THE EDGE from U2, DAVID GROHL, AMY RAY of the INDIGO GIRLS and reportedly the late WHITNEY HOUSTON but there is more to SECOLA than a NDN KARS. His 1992 album CIRCLE was a catalog of music that spoke to the joys, the pains and the  resolve that one develops when they've grown up the Indian way  and now that album has been re-released by DON GIOVANNI RECORDS. For the old time fans this is a chance to own this classic recording on vinyl for the first time ever and to catch a new animated video for the song complete with Anishinabe subtitles. For those who weren't born before 1992, this is their chance to hear a pioneering Native artist at teh top of his game. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with KEITH SECOLA regarding the re-issue of CIRCLE. Here is how the interview went.

Before I get started, I'm going to add myself to the list of people who love the song NDN KARS. I remember seeing you live at this fundraiser show at the University of New Mexico campus back in 1997. The show ended with you playing NDN KARS and everyone doing a round dance. I think you've created something very powerful with that song.
I've had a few people like NEIL YOUNG's manager tell me that "important songwriters write songs that are importatnt to the people." And NDN KARS was a song written for Native people without any pretense. It simply written for the purpose of Indian people to pick it up and relate to.

And how does it feel to be promoting the album CIRCLE again 25 years after it's initial release?
With the re-issue of CIRCLE I got the chance to put songs on it that were under released or never released. It's got the six original tracks from the early days and it's got several more recent songs so I can't get more excited about putting it out on vinyl and making the circles and having it out on another label which kind of helps me as an independent artist in achieving some of my goals.  It's pretty wild to be able to have the album on vinyl and to get good endorsement from people like THE EDGE from U2 and JOHN DENSEMORE and AMY RAY from the INDIGO GIRLS. Those kind of things help.

I don't even think that CIRCLE was ever available on vinyl the first time around.
No it wasn't. It was just on cassette at first. The first time I started out, I made about a hundred cassettes and I played at the Denver Indian Center for a show and I remember selling most of the cassettes at that show. That was  a good feeling to know that you could support your art and that people would buy it. The whole thing of getting Native artists to start writing their own music and becoming sovereign by acting sovereign started with that album. We started going through that rennaisance where native artists could release their own stuff without major record labels and we could have a voice and make a statement. It kind of became a reality to a lot of native and non-native artists. And now with the digital revolution that has taken place, the idea of recording in a studio a little more real and attainable.


Yes, you started your own label AKINA RECORDS with the release of CIRCLE and overtime the label become something of a cooperative for other Native recording artists.
That was the idea.  A Native American Production Co-operative is the concept of helping people help themselves. Yeah I kind of did that and I started my own publishing house so I could publish my on songs. I think it's important for artists to have different streams of revenue trickling in.  An artist makes revenue from three different places. One is from live performance, the other is from merchandising  and the third way is through publishing which is something that a lot of people don't hit on and they give their music to someone else to publish. I think publishing is a viable avenue for native artists as well. A lot of people want to use the song NDN KARS for airplay or a band might want to cover it for one of their releases and I can grant them the license.  I've had a few entertainment lawyers that I've worked with in getting that developed. Those three revenue streams are very important  when you are talking about independence and sovereignty for native artists so that we can keep doing what we're doing  otherwise it can be very difficult and you can lose the momentum that you need in order to keep going. Getting that inertia going can be really hard but once it gets going than you allow for some of these streams to trickle. I've always been an advocate of native people practising sovereignty because then we don't have any censoring of what we have to say or what we want to do. I took my queue from a lot of good artists out there who said that they could self manage themselves although with me I like to call it "self-mismanaging" myself. Strangely enough I have a manager right now and I have an agent that I'm working with so this is the first time in my career that that has happened. But before this, I had always been managing myself and booking myself. I was doing with the knwoledge of what to book as an agent and what an artists needs from lodging to travel and backline. It used to get pretty overwhelming being a one man team because you've got to  set things up for publicity and promoting shows so people would be interested in showing up to your shows. That is the most important thing about surviving the music business and Native artists are really catching on to it and that is really exciting.


This album has been re-released by DON GIOVANNI RECORDS. How does it feel handing over the keys to the "NDN KAR" as it were?
It's like I have a remote control device at home so I can control where the car is going. It feels good not having to fulfill all of the orders myself. I remember onc i was on a  radio show and afterwards sold a couple hundred copies in the next couple of days. That can be a chore sending out all of your stuff and then keeping track of it. I like to give all of the people who have followed me and have been fnas of mine  an opportunity to get the album becasue there were times when I wasn't able to do that because I ran out of copies. I just like to do it better and that was one of the reason that I signed with this current label.  I also signed with them because it wasa good independent deal where I wouldn't be giving up a lot of rights and they believe in turning over to certain causes like Native Child Protection.

In the beginning what compelled you to pick up the guitar and make music inthe first place?
I remember when I was seventeen and I was painting a house and I pushed up on the window payne and I pushed my hands through the glass and I cut both my forearms one worse than the other and I remember going to get stitched up in the ER. It took about thirteen stitches  on my forearms  and I was thinking "How am I going to play guitar?" The cuts healed and everything and shortly after that I saved up enough money from painting houses all Summer and I hitch hiked up to  Hibbing, Minnesota - Bob Dylan's hometown - and I bought a Gibson Marauder guitar which I still have to this day. I never hocked it. It was the precursor to the Les Paul only it's not as fancy. They don't make them no more but its' really heavy, well made guitar. I remember I bought the guitar and the amp for about four hundred dollars in cash. I didn't know anything about bargaining then.  They told me it cost four hundred and I was like "Well here you go!" I was so excited to have this guitar and start playing rock n roll music. I took lessons for a little while and I joined ab and shortly after that we were doing shows. We had a female singer who had a wonderful voice and a lead guitarist who could really play the guitar. We were doing a lot of shows and getting paid. While all of this was happening I was learning new chords on my instrument. It was a crash course in entertainment. I learned about entertaining people  and about songwriting. We were an original band and we played our original material alongside the covers that we had to do if we were going to get hired in local bars.


When you went into the studio to record CIRCLE, what inspired the songs?

When we first recorded NDN KARS I asked a few friends of mine about getting some money together to recorded several songs. I wanted to record maybe two or three songs. One of those songs was NDN KARS and I asked this  Native band from Wyoming called the SAND CREEK BAND to help me out. It was these two brothers - the RIDGLEY brothers - the oldest brother could play electric 49 leads which formed the basis of NDN KARS. Those guys came down from Wyoming in a van  and we booked a studio. All day Saturday and Sunday we recorded four songs. Two of them were mine and two were theirs. We recorded NDN KARS first and I could tell by the sound of it that it was going to be something. Also at the time, I was discovering my own voice and when I listen to the song now I can hear that. These days I can hear pitches way better than I could then. You can hear the enthusiasm in that recording. The song has a real underdog nature to it. That song is about the richness of being poor. I remember bringing the cassette of the song to the KILI radio station in Pine Ridge. After I had talked to the DJ and dropped off the tape  I was driving away from the station and I heard the song on the air already. It just took off from there. One of the DJs from KILI was telling me that they were down in Miami for a music conference and they were playing that song at their booth and WHITNEY HOUSTON and BOBBY BROWN came up to them and they wanted to know the name of the song and who did it. The songs has always been kind of exotic. The song has a sound that is all it's own and a lot of people have gravitated to it over the years. I remember THE GRATEFUL DEAD in the last years of JERRY GARCIA's life  would play the album CIRCLE over the speakers before their shows. The song kind of became an underground anthem. Even NIRVANA had it on their playlist. In 1992 I became friends with NIRVANA. I was friends with DAVE GROHL first and then I became friends with KURT COBAIN. I got to hang out with him a few times  in different spots around America. I've had other bands tell me that they play it on their tour bus. The song comes intrinsically from our people. It wasn't like the white man told me to write a song and make it a hit for people in Indian Country. Ussually you have to be on a major movie or a major thing on MTV or something.  It's like once the white man validates our people then we accept it but this one came intrinsically from the salt of the earth.


http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

CONTACT BRiAN LUSH AT: djlush@rockwired.com