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” )
There may be a new administration in Washington & they are obviously in cahoots with the corporations behind the #KeystoneXL & the #DakotaAccessPipeline — but we of Indian Country & our allies are still determined to stop all black snakes from afflicting Turtle Island. I have received communication from LaDonna Brave Bull Allard of Sacred Stone Camp & others to come stand with our precious water protectors @ Standing Rock — or to organize actions locally to support them. I am pondering the latter with my fellow Afro-Native bandmate of Cactus Rose & some of my Tri-State Native Circle. We all must do our part, when they are raiding camps & dishonoring rights. We cannot let this stand. And I shall still be acting in support of the Ramapough Lunaape @ Split Rock with their efforts to #StopSpectra here in NY/NJ/CT. See you on the frontlines! A’ho*
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*
Although Standing Rock has most captured the souls & minds of Indian Country during 2016, there are many black snakes afflicting Turtle Island — & I have been standing in solidarity with the Ramapough Lunaape water protectors of the Split Rock prayer camp in New Jersey that are trying to stop the Algonquin Pipeline project threatening the Hudson River & the surrounding lands of the Tri-State & New England. I & my band Cactus Rose have pledged to Ramapough Chief Dwaine Perry to be of support to Split Rock, as they hold the space & unite with other allied environmental and social justice groups of the region to stop this black snake. The news that Red Warrior Camp is leaving Standing Rock & withdrawing from the #NoDAPL fight there, even as they turn their energy & focus to other frontlines of Indian Country, has underscored the need for all of us pan-indigenous united folks to tend to the issues in our own backyards/home locales. Here’s some images from my visit to Split Rock this past weekend; all photos by me, except the 2 where I am pictured – by Hugo Kenzo
I will be addressing this activism tonight at my conversation/concert on protest music & activism @ Decolonize This Place in TriBeCa. Looking forward! A’ho*
( Kandia Crazy Horse & Jonathan Demme @ Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in the land of the Ramapough Lunaape, NJ – by Japanese-Brazilian filmmaker Hugo Kenzo )
( The donations for the Ramapough Lunaape of the camp from me/my band Cactus Rose, @ my flat before the trip )
( #DefendTheSacred in the tents @ Split Rock prayer camp )
( Kandia Crazy Horse, water protector & Indian Country activist, @ Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in NJ – by Hugo Kenzo )
“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 )
Last night in Harlem, I attended the Democracy Now 20th anniversary celebration @ Riverside Church – by the grace & generosity of my filmmaker friend Jonathan (his footage from the past long weekend @ Standing Rock may be on the Tavis Smiley show tonight on PBS). This photograph is from just after I sang “This Land Is Your Land” in the nave @ Riverside with Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine). They’d been spinning Woody Guthrie before the event & I reckon a Steve Earle version of the tune. I had been musing deeply on Woody, Pete Seeger, Madiba, my honorary uncle Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael)’s funeral in the same space & that MLK Jr denounced the Vietnam War from that pulpit. Singing in this sanctified Harlem space by the Hudson riverside got me fired up for next week’s rebel music program @ Decolonize #AllPowerToThePeople #CactusRose #KandiaCrazyHorse #artist #activist #indigenousrevolutionary #DemocracyNow20 #SingOut!!!
( Tom Morello by Kandia Crazy Horse )
Another photo from “Celebrate 20 Years of Democracy Now!” that Gina Belafonte sent me during the event. Although they knew each other previously, this was the first time Noam Chomsky & Harry Belafonte shared a platform according to him. What I loved best about Uncle Harry’s portion: he referred to Standing Rock & remade the call to Obama — as per my own wish throughout Walking Eagle’s presidency — to pardon Leonard Peltier. Accompanied by Democracy Now‘s footage @ Standing Rock & other indigenous resistance actions including those of Idle No More, I felt good to have our issues addressed on the date of the camps’ eviction (5 December). This discussion with the icons plus show hosts Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez occurred right before Patti Smith took the stage with a guitarist & her daughter Jesse on piano (a generational sonic nurturing I was glad to bear witness to as a female singer-songwriter & activist) to sing a forceful rendition of “People Got The Power” to a standing ovation.
( Noam Chomsky & Harry Belafonte sharing a platform for the first time – Democracy Now 20 @ Riverside Church in Harlem, by Gina Belafonte )
I am grateful I got to attend the event, be inspired by the speakers including Danny Glover & Danny DeVito, and, impromptu, be invited to sing a song for the people by one of our most hallowed American artist-activist icons, Woody Guthrie. Still musing on the takeaway from this celebration & will be sure to express it at my own protest music conversation/concert next week in Manhattan. Please join us in TriBeCa on the evening of 12/12 – We The People have many more reasons now in the Americas to #SingOut!!!
( Kandia Crazy Horse, singer/songwriter/indigenous activist of Cactus Rose, Native Americana / country music band, @ Riverside Church in Manhattan, after Democracy Now 20 )
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 )
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*
"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