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A Tribe Called Red with Frank Waln and the Sampson Brothers Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 9:00pm Mayne Stage | 1328 W. Morse Ave. Chicago $10 Adv. | $12 Day of Show | $20 Reserved Seating | 18+

As Vice accurately (or inaccurately) covered a couple months ago, the Idle No More protests underway in Canada could be ripped straight from the pages of a Louise Erdrich novel. At the heart of the matter is the continued and very historic native resistance to colonial subjugation, the arbitrary abuse of indigenous rights and the misuse of aboriginal lands. Now however you feel about those shaky terms, aboriginal and indigenous, both sounding like strange anthropologists’ probing names for native folk, Indian has always been quite contentious one too. Out of respect and reluctant acceptance of my own collegiate guilt lets go with First Nation (in the Canadian context) or native people.

Now, as you know I’ve been a huge fan of A Tribe Called Red for quite some time. Gozamos was lucky enough to have premiered their first full length album last year. And even if Noisey beat us to the punch this go around, we’re still elated to promote this trio of incredibly intelligent cultural creators’ newest work, Nation II Nation. Linking up with a record label and actual drum making group Tribal Spirit, where they were able to remix music from the young musician’s library of native beats, Nation II Nation sounds a little different than their first release. This album sounding stronger and more intensely native even if the electronic parts of the consortium of sounds goes deeper and harder off the edge than ever before. It’s no wonder these gentleman are able to combine so many unique sources, as I learned from our interview below, they’re completely inspired from everything from superstar singer Anthony Kiedis, independent filmaker Jim Jarmusch, acclaimed actor Gary Farmer (from the same Cayuga nation as Bear Witness) and the wrestling antics of Hulk Hogan.

That’s what makes these guys so special. DJ Shub, DJ NDN and Bear Witness‘ deft ability seamlessly challenges the pop motif into politicization while also bringing the activist agenda down to the people, with a subtle impulse towards education versus preaching overbearingly. I was very pleased to talk to all three main men behind this masterful project. Bringing the traditional and the urban together is the mark of their third generation processing of cultures, their parent’s culture and the modern. On that forefront are other artists such as Javier Estrada, who they’ve recently performed with and also collaborated with on a trilogy of video/music instillations which push the politics all the further.

In our convo last month promoting their upcoming tour through Chicago, I was excited to hear their understanding and appreciation of Estrada’s work. “We linked up” with Estrada, “because “we’re doing the exact same thing as each other. He’s sampling his traditional Aztec and Mayan culture, flutes and instruments, he’s not updating it but he’s” [following] “the same cultural continuance as we do.” Drawing together the similarities between native struggles across borders, they add. “The connections between first nations in Canada and first nations in Mexico are exactly the same. We just got colonized by people who speak different languages. So the connection on this world base community, we all feel it. We all talk and share that.”

ATCR filled me in. The trilogy is definitely unfinished but the final installment is in the works, despite technical difficulties. We were also able to talk about early 1900’s indigenous assimilation versus state oppression, reserve life and being raised in native culture by parents who re-explore tradition, which in the end leads to their off-reserve, urban raised blending of influences, not unlike most Latino’s sponging together of languages and styles. We got to talk a little bit about the gang’s spiritual ideas and take on the powwow’s uprooting and transgressive power as brought to the dance floor. I was probably most excited to speak with self-proclaimed “media junkie,” Bear Witness about his incomparable video work too. Talking about the “double reflection” of processed imagery and appropriations by other minorities, I was stoked to talk to the un-doctrinator behind ATCR’s exquisite videos.

Check out our full conversation, the latest album and get your tickets for Sunday!

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