We of Cactus Rose are big, lifelong fans of the father of Cosmic American Music Gram Parsons & honored to finally be paying him homage in sound. Come the end of September, we are heading down to Gram’s hometown of Waycross, Georgia, to perform in the 20th year of the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull & Tribute Festival, with headliners including the great Kentucky Headhunters (who I wrote a seminal Village Voice review about back in the day); & we are very pleased to have special guests joining us: Stanley Booth & Lauren Barth. Take a gander at the purty poster that’s circulating & prepare to come join us down Georgia way when we shall be singing a set that combines Cactus Rose originals & select Gram Parsons classics – A’ho!
Join us of Cactus Rose band for our first show of 2017 this Friday night! We are celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth with our own cosmic twang contribution to the #BlackHillbilly tradition & looking forward to reaching out farther with this advocacy into the national & international music scene during this year. Follow us on Instagram: @cactusroselovesyou
I am still recovering from the sonic & social whirl of this past week in Connecticut where we were engaged in mounting the #DavidBowie & #Prince memorial conference “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign,” organized by my dear friend & Yale University scholar Dr. Daphne A. Brooks. A good deal to reflect upon from all I heard from my former rockcrit colleagues including Ann Powers of NPR Music & Michaelangelo Matos & Greil Marcus, as well as those of the Academy such as Tavia Nyong’o of Yale & Eric Lott of CUNY Graduate Center. I do appreciate the wide audience that my session with Sherae Rimpsey & Alan Light — Everybody Still Wants To Fly — garnered due to our being the lead-in to Solange Knowles’ keynote address. My take on Prince as Mystery Cult via the prism of what Harold Bloom has denunciated as “California Orphism” was interesting to some folks (smile). And my Texan bandmate KAR / Kimberly Robison kindly traveled up from the Hamilton Grange to support me in my presentation & also did some vital research at Yale on Emily West aka the Yellow Rose of Texas for an upcoming project we wish to mount – stay tuned!
I was also very sad to learn upon my arrival in New Haven that Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks was gone to Glory. A lot of flashing on my time spent on-and-off the Road that goes on Forever with the Allmans is surfacing & I am doing a lot of listening to my favorites among their compositions — particularly one of my 3 most treasured songs: “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” So, more to come after a spell on what transpired last week…yet here’s two precious souvenirs of my time spent in New Haven — meeting one of the scions of the great Escovedo family of American music that has had a profound influence on me since I initially grew up in a colony of Aztlan, a Chicano barrio in Chocolate City; I am very much a follower as a singer-songwriter of Sheila E. & her uncle Alejandro Escovedo…& as a past film school graduate and lover of concert cinema, I have also been influenced by D.A. Pennebaker who made my beloved Monterey Pop. An honor all ’round to briefly share space with them…A’ho*
( Sheila E. & Kandia Crazy Horse of Cactus Rose @ Yale University last Friday night, New Haven, Connecticut )
( Kandia Crazy Horse of Cactus Rose & legendary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker @ Yale, after screening of his 1973 David Bowie documentary “Ziggy Stardust” )
Hope y’all enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday; I spent mine meditating on the post-60s emanations of The Dream — as well as its limits as manifest in the oeuvres of Black Atlantic & Heartland rockstars David Bowie & Prince. I am finally at liberty to invite y’all to join us in New Haven @ the end of the month for the “Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign” rock conference. Courtesy of an invite from my longtime dear friend of the Black Rock scene, former Princeton professor turned Yale scholar Dr. Daphne Brooks, I shall be presenting on Prince & activism @ Yale University; my evening program on 25 January also features Solange (Knowles) as keynote speaker & former SPIN magazine editor Alan Light.
Happy New Year, y’all & best wishes as the seasons unfold. I hope you had a grand ole holiday time; for my part, I finally got some much needed rest & a spell to rotate some albums of 2016 — especially country releases — that I never got to hear during the course of last year. We of Cactus Rose are taking some time to conjure, connect culturally & write songs during January & then we will be doing two shows on the Brooklyn Country scene in February. I will be making my first live appearances of 2017 in upstate New York & in Connecticut — the latter being a major event I am not yet at liberty to share details about. Stay tuned to this page &
…In the meanwhile: hope can rope yer hearts to join Jonathan Demme & myself @ the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY next Saturday for his western movies screening series / live event “Saddle Up Saturdays.” I will serve as the guest artist / interlocutor for the presentation of Dixie lore & Lakota-themed Run Of The Arrow starring Rod Steiger, Brian Keith & Charles Bronson — followed by a discussion + Q&A. The screening will be preceded by Jonathan’s Standing Rock documentary: Protection Not Protest: The People of Standing Rock
Neither I nor my fellow bandmates in Cactus Rose, Jeff & Kimberly/KAR, have forgotten about Standing Rock or Split Rock, despite the switch in focus to Aleppo or the trend hoppers moving on to the next new thing; and we remain committed to helping stop all the black snakes threatening Turtle Island. So this event will be a good opportunity to come and hear about the Split Rock actions & other causes of Indian Country as well as how it was for me to grow up Indian loving the western genre & cowboy music in the Vietnam Era when antiheroes dominated horse operas while there was a revival of Native American consciousness in the real world beyond celluloid. A’ho*
“Rebel Music In The Hour Of Chaos:”Music emanates directly from my indigenous soul. Therefore, it immediately made sense for me to perform my music again this year as a soundtrack to our overlapping struggles – including #NoDAPL. Sounds, including freedom songs past & present, most powerfully link us together & amplify what’s transpiring from the actions in the streets. I was born in the Season of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going’ On,” an album that dominated my childhood as the strivings for Total Revolution continued past the 1960s societal upheaval; and the inspiration to become an artist-activist sprang from that era. I remain under the influence of rebel music from many artists and cultures – Please join us on Monday 12 December @ Decolonize This Place. 55 Walker St, TriBeCa NYC (Doors 8pm). when we will perform some songs of protest & be in conversation about our activism with Brotha Rob Fields (Bold As Love / Black Rock Coalition) – A’ho! Cactus Rose ft. Special Guests: Abiodun Oyewole (The Last Poets) & Mahina Movement
This may be our final show of 2016, so we really appreciate you coming through & all of your support during the many Standing Rock resistance actions – Wopila tanka, y’all
( Afro-Native sisterhood from Virginia: Kimberly Robison/KAR & Kandia Crazy Horse of Cactus Rose, Native Americana / cosmic country band, @ Decolonize This Place in TriBeCa this past Sunday for Black Art & Activism Now, curated by Dr. Camara Holloway & Tavia Nyong’o (Yale University) )
( preliminary poster for REBEL MUSIC IN THE HOUR OF CHAOS by artist Kyle Goen (Decolonize This Place/MTO Collective) #KyleDidThis )
( Jeff McLaughlin, lead guitarist / vocals of Cactus Rose )
( Kandia Crazy Horse with Lorena, Vaimoana & Gabby of Mahina Movement @ Decolonize This Place NYC )
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets – Cactus Rose Instagram: @cactusroselovesyou )
Here’s a snap by youngblood Claude from last night @ Decolonize This Place, just before the sistren of protest music trio Mahina Movement sang a mighty powerful song In The Spirit of 1491. Contributing some guest vocals — impromptu, I joined them on singing “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey In The Rock, and some other tunes — & bearing witness to the live recording of their album for Palestine was a great way to end Native American Heritage Month.
As I have been these many months, I continue to be engaged in the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin of North Dakota – & now, supporting Split Rock as well (sanctioned by Red Warrior Camp), in solidarity with my cousin’s wife’s people, the Ramapough Lunaape of New Jersey, in order to stop the construction of the Algonquin Pipeline. Due to the escalation of attacks on the water protectors @ Standing Rock last Sunday night, I am receiving many communications on the cause & have now been invited to perform at yet another benefit for the camps, which will take place in NYC before Christmas. Other things are afoot as well & will relate about them as they unfold. Glad to note my Virginia Native great aunt is taking up flooding the phones to the president & state representatives with her circle of elders on behalf of Standing Rock!
( Kandia Crazy Horse, water protector, in Midtown NYC #mniwiconi #NoDAPL #NoAIM #defendthesacred #blacksnakekillers of Turtle Island )
For now, reflecting on having participated in the rally > march for Standing Rock last Wednesday @ Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan & then performing at the Benefit For Water Protectors of #StandingRock on Friday night — making our debut as Cactus Rose at Brooklyn’s famed Jalopy Theater for ole-timey/hillbilly/folk/mountain music. It was an honor to serve as the headliner for this benefit, with our special guest: Seminole/Shawnee/Mikisúkî singer/songwriter/activist Lonnie Moon Fire Harrington. I have been told by the organizer that the event raised almost $2,000 in donations, so – Wopila tanka to all who came through!
Enjoying these last days of #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth — before band rehearsals resume for our full slate of December performances & attending two events this week for artists I greatly admire: tomorrow’s BET screening of the Sharon Jones documentary (in memoriam) & the private viewing of Morrison Hotel Gallery’s traveling Neil Young exhibit in SoHo on Thursday evening. Looking forward to seeing y’all out-n-about, as well as at the Standing Rock teach-in later this week @ Decolonize This Place – A’ho!
( Cactus Rose, Native Americana/cosmic country band, debut @ Jalopy Theater – pix by Jan Bell of The Maybelles )
As a fan/supporter of the Americana & Alt-Country scenes for decades, as well as a longtime rock journalist/music editor covering the country genre, I became aware of Brooklyn’s Jalopy Theater at its inception & used to frequent it a lot in the earlier days of its existence when I socialized with a lot of rural transplants to the City from elsewhere in Mainland America. Since I started writing songs & then playing out, have long wished to play there for Jalopy is the main equivalent in NYC to what the Nashville country Mother Church, the Ryman, provided for generations of hillbilly singers & players during the 20th century. So I am pleased that I am finally making my debut appearance @ Jalopy Theater on 25 November, with my new Native Americana / Cosmic Country band Cactus Rose: Jeff McLaughlin (guitar, vocals), Evan Taylor (drums), Hilary Hawke (banjo, vocals) & our frequent guest star, Seminole elder/artist/activist Lonnie Harrington (guitar, vocals). Thanks to the organizer of this benefit for the water protectors of Standing Rock that we are performing in support of: Jan Bell of the Maybelles & #BrooklynAmericanaFestival
( My picker, Jeff McLaughlin, with his signature Heritage guitar, during our Cactus Rose band rehearsal this afternoon, High Harlem NYC – We are pleased to continue our activism & being of service via our art on behalf of Standing Rock — as well as the Split Rock — water protectors in North Dakota & New Jersey #mniwiconi #NoDAPL #NoAIM #StandingInSolidarityWithStandingRock #LoveWillWin )
It will be fun to again share a bill with the husband of my dear sistahfriend & fellow Georgia Peach, Amanda Jo Williams, that I have sung with for years: Matthew O’Neill – Matthew’s also a big Neil Young fancier & we commune often about Neil’s sounds & Native lore; so great timing to do a show with him during Native American Heritage Month & right after Thanksgiving. Looking forward! Nee Ah Nee – A’ho*
“We got to work for Peace / Peace ain’t gonna be free / Gotta go to war…” so often sang my late hero & artist-activist influence Gil Scott-Heron (but he was not a warhawk, he was singing of peace-waging), when I used to see him annually in NYC at venues such as S.O.B.’s downtown. And, while I listened to his tunes “B-Movie” (about Ray-Gun America in the 1980s), “Winter In America” (a reminder for #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth & due to escalated actions around the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance & halting other black snakes of Turtle Island) & “Gun” (for obvious reasons in trigger-happy America & upon Veterans Day), this week & then just spoke with my Pamunkey great aunt Ethel from Virginia, who is an activist/southern belle/church lady in the truest sense & at 91 would have been embedded all year @ Standing Rock were it not for ailments, I was reminded indelibly that we cannot despair at this hour of chaos after the presidential election. We must be strong, we must be prayerful if we follow Native tradition & other faiths, and we must seek to be united as possible in order to work for Peace in the coming days of a New Nation that does not honor nor respect the rights of all of its citizens.
( Caitlin Rose & Kandia Crazy Horse @ Mercury Lounge NYC (w/ photobomb by Roddy of Daniel Romano’s band – Follow @cactusroselovesyou on Instagram )
2016: A year of sonic loss, domestic terrorism against #NoDAPL water protectors & days of rage in newly-minted Trump America…I will not retire from my activism & I am feeling a renewed dedication to songwriting, illuminating the folkways of the postmodern New South, and collaborating with other (Native) artists that also follow the Way of the New World to work towards indigenous futures. So, instead of wallowing — although I was/am mighty weary — I went out into the fractious City, finding fellowship & even some laughs with other indigenous activists from near and far as well as musicians from Argentina (Nico), Canada (Daniel Romano & band), & my sistah-in-twang Caitlin Rose (Nashville via Texas). While we raised a toast of Tecate backstage @ Mercury Lounge in the East Village/Lower East Side to Canadian singer-songwriter icon #LeonardCohen & #MightyBaby’s Martin Stone who just passed & then I rotated sounds of my treasured record collection overnight in their memory + for Veterans Day (my step-great-grandfather Mr. Bridges of SW Georgia fought bravely in World War I & always remember him upon this day) — Elyse Weinberg, Stevie Nicks (who I mightily wish I could catch on her current tour!) & Fleetwood Mac, Jon Lucien, Rufus Wainwright — it was deeply impressed upon me that we must be thankful that #WeAreStillHere able to sing, play, laugh, dance & write songs, despite possible dark days ahead on Turtle Island and all of the many sad losses that have befallen the music world in 2016. As discussed with #CaitlinRose, I look forward to playing in Nashville, doing some festivals & sharing new songs in 2017, with my trusty band Cactus Rose holding me down. Some don’t like (colored) women who are brave & fly the freak flag high; there are concurrent wars against us of the #NoDAPL resistance and the collective body of black women in this society; and there are some entities that have tried/want to silence my Voice – but still I shine on. And I am going to stay #BlackHillbilly ’til I die. Here’s to #TGIF — as my great aunt would say — and looking forward to enjoying the remainder of #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
( Nico Bereciartua of Magpie Salute (from Argentina) & Kandia Crazy Horse of Cactus Rose band (in hat Karen Dalton) @ Henry Diltz’ Morrison Hotel Gallery in SoHo for “Midnight Rider” photography exhibit on Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band by Patricia O’Driscoll, NYC )
( Why I want to see Stevie Nicks (who I have never seen) live…She composed this song “Silver Springs” while on the Road in my homeplace of the #DMV. I used to spend special times with my late mother in Silver Spring in the brief period before she walked on & grew up going there often in my “Maryland is for crabs…Virginia is for lovers” shirt in the 1970s. Precious memories…& songwriting inspiration! )
( How I came to truly know/love Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” – via my beloved & the best male Songbird of my generation #JeffBuckley (RIP) #ScorpioRising #ScorpioSeason – In Memoriam for all the Singers & Players & Freedom Fighters )
( & Leonard Cohen & Jeff Buckley’s acolyte who’s one of my most beloved contemporary artists: #RufusWainwright – This 11/11 tune comes from his double-LP masterpiece Want One / Want Two that was life-changing for me in the early Aughts. I still treasure getting to meet Rufus once backstage at a taping of the Jimmy Fallon Show in Manhattan, courtesy of my brotha Kirk Douglas of The Roots )
Sho’nuff, I got post-Election 2016 Blues & been nursing ’em by spinning a lot of fitting tunes by my hero / influence as an artist-activist, Gil Scott-Heron — including “Winter In America” & “B-Movie.” Feeling even more wintry this grey November day in New York City for just found out that musician & bookseller #MartinStone has walked on. Regret that have not had the resources to cover a favorite song by one of his former bands, my beloved #MightyBaby, as long planned; but still hope to do so one day. Like the great Ian Matthews of Fairport Convention/Matthews Southern Comfort (who I briefly met once when he got me into his tour of Gene Clark’s No Other that came to the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn) & my new friend/fellow sister country singer who used to dwell in the Ozarks, Jan Bell of the Maybelles / Brooklyn Americana Festival, who hails from Yorkshire, Stone was one of a select elite of master musicians that interpreted Anglo-Americana, perhaps the most interesting & exciting moment of the original British Invasion of the 1960s/early ’70s.
Here’s my beloved “Virgin Spring,” lachrymose, gossamer beauty befitting the vibes today in America. Mighty Baby was the UK’s answer to the Grateful Dead — a band I followed for aeons — & it’s interesting that they made their transition to this sound roughly around the same time that Jerry & ‘nem were trying to remold themselves in the manner of then-emerging Crosby Stills & Nash (& sometimes Young), as you hear on my favorite Dead LP, Workingman’s Dead >>>>>>>—–))—>
Sending you love o’er the Big Water in Fair Albion (despite #Brexit & #BritsSoWhite), to my brotha Mark Pringle, co-head of London’s Rocksbackpages.com which archives my early music journalism – Thankye, Mark, kindly for what correspondence did get to have with Martin Stone – A’ho*
It’s a great day to be indigenous, Sisters & Brothers! Leaving out anon to march Manahata along the Lenape trail Wickquasgeck, with my friends & fellow activists of the Eagle & Condor Community Center — we all stand with Standing Rock. This is my fight song…well, theme music for the Trail, anyroad; was singing this, “Broken Arrow” by my favorite band Buffalo Springfield, last Friday night acapella with filmmaker Jonathan Demme who’s a fellow Neil Young stan, after our #ProjectAmericana performance @ Symphony Space.
Thinking of the Missouri River (with “O Shenandoah” also echoing in my Soul) via these lyrics:
Did you see them in the river? They were there to wave to you Could you tell that the empty quivered Brown skinned Indian on the banks That were crowded and narrow Held a broken arrow?
Today, I shall be singing freedom songs all the way from Columbus Circle to Shorakapok. We will be holding a water ceremony, after a stop at the Indian Caves of Inwood Hill. Stay tuned for my report. Rocking my mocs on out the door…! >>>>>>>—–))—>
Hope y’all are enjoying #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth & have a grand ole weekend – A’ho*
Hope yer gettin’ over The Hump well this week, Sisters & Brothers! For those that don’t know: November is #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
Here in New York City, I will be doing lots of actions & activities to honor that. Among them, I am doing a prayerful march through the entirety of Manhattan Island this Saturday with my friends of the Eagle & Condor Community Center (in Queens), from the National Museum of the American Indian @ Bowling Green (the southernmost tip of Manhattan) all the way to Shorakapok (the Indian Caves @ Inwood Hill on the Spuyten Duyvil). The march goes from 10 am until 6pm. I will also be rolling through the Black Farmers Conference in Harlem this weekend.
This month, I will be performing at another benefit for Standing Rock, on November 25 @ 9pm, this time at the City’s premiere venue for hillbilly/old-timey/bluegrass/roots music — the Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. I have been trying to work it out to play at Jalopy for a long time, so happy to finally do so for a great, beautiful cause so near and dear to my Native heart. This will also be the proper debut of my new Native Americana / twang band Cactus Rose. More details TBA!
(Kandia Crazy Horse @ Electric Lady Studios in vintage fringed buckskin jacket, Greenwich Village NYC, by Camara Dia Holloway)
Made my #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth pilgrimage to #ElectricLadyStudios in the Village, honoring #JimiHendrix’ Native #Tsalagi roots. Received some purple & feathered energy from Jimi that I will be unleashing when I perform @ the Standing Rock benefit @ Jalopy – A’ho*
As filmed by Camara Dia Holloway, some footage from my Standing Rock water protectors benefit concert, the Sacred Water Medicine Show, is now viewable on this site; click the tab for MUSIC.
This song, “Cabin In The Pines,” which is based on a once-real jookhouse in Southwest Georgia but is my sonic & lyrical paean to Appalachia / Affrilachia, remains one of my most favorite songs I have written to date. If you have not gotten the Native Americana / Country / Americana album that features it yet, Stampede, it is still at my CD Baby store: STAMPEDE available here!
Playing herein @ Decolonize This Place / Artists Space in TriBeCa with my new band, Cactus Rose (minus Brother Evan on drums!) #mniwiconi #NoDAPL #ProtectTheSacred
"This is music created by a lady with a very high level of passion and talent, with a clear idea of her musical influences and what she wants to do with it. Soul in country music is not a new idea, as anyone who has every listened to Hank Williams Sr, Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline can attest to. Kandia Crazy Horse just has found a way to bring that into the 21st century and it works marvelously."
~ Music Morsels, 12.15.2013