Fiddling Around and Rocking the Rez

OK, so I did get out a little to Folklife last weekend.  It was the fiddling that brought me, but I ended up rocking out again!

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Last Saturday I went to hear Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, whose music I’ve enjoyed over the years, going back to the Bothy Band, through recording with Michael O’Domnaill, Patrick Street, the Celtic Fiddle Festival and solo. He was playing with Cal Scott at Folklife, and this was the first time I’ve seen him live. He did not disappoint!


I liked the one at the end about going to London for work and finding so many Irish there that it was being back home again (and the same was true here in America)!

Here are Kevin Burke and Cal Scott back in Ireland, at Dolan’s in Limerick City:

Afterwards, I got up from my spot under the Space Needle to wander around some more and see all the other stages.


Only to end up back at that stage when I heard some folk rock I wanted to hear more of. 


Sue Quigley played a set of intensely personal songs about relationships and life. Here she is with Perfect Chaos (and her band) at the Tractor Tavern.  Check out more of her music on her MySpace page(

OK, when I say I got out a little, as usual I mean very little!  I came back Sunday to hear the evening show, Tahqua Alaska Native Performing Arts Performing Group, at the Bagley Wright Theater. I wanted to hear more fiddle music, this time from Swil Kanim, who played his violin in Sherman Alexie’s The Business of Fancy Dancing.

There was a lot more – from traditional Native dancing to rock and roll. After starting the evening with taps on flute and fiddle in honor of the fallen for Memorial Day, the first act up were the Unangax Aleut Dancers.


One of their dances was of the grizzly bear, teaching the young to fish, and of the mama bear protecting the young from the older male bears.  They also did an uncanny interpretation of seagulls (especially as the real ones were soaring overhead at Folklife all weekend).

Solana Booth and Chaske continued the journey, including hoop dancing.


Peter Ali played flute next.


Swil Kanim and Gene Tagaban (MC, flute and storyteller) showed excellent comic timing in addition to playing beautifully.  Maybe it’s time for a Native American Smothers Brothers!

Here Swil is giving Gene a bad time on the size of his flute.


Here’s a video of them together at the Seattle Art Museum, with Swil Kanim telling one of the stories he told at Folklife.

Gene Tagaban transformed himself into a Raven (aka One Crazy Raven) for some of the stories.


Toward the end of the evening, the music evolved and a rock band broke out.  Little Big Band, whose members included Gene Tagaban and Swill Kanim (at least for the evening), and the beautiful (and beautiful voiced)  Star Nayea, winner of two Nammys (Native American Music Awards) in 2001 for Somewhere in a Dream (Independent Recording), and in 2008 for Silenced My Tongue (songwriter).


Here’s a video collage with Silenced My Tongue (about Star and many others being adopted out from their tribe):

Elements of the traditional kept showing up in the Little Big Band set, including the re-emergence of the Raven:


Unfortunately, the Little Big Band doesn’t seem to have a cd out or music on their website.  They really rocked together! 

On the way out I took a wrong turn and an unintentional tour back stage at the Bagley Wright.  Oops!  I guess in live theater settings you can’t just take any exit. . .