Minneapolis native Joe Rainey is grateful for ‘elevating powwow music’

By | November 23, 2022

Amid the mish-mash of indie rockers and digital acts at Bon Iver’s Eaux Claires music festivals within the late 2010s, Joe Rainey and his dramatic singing and drumming model stood out like a loud wolf howl. on a quiet summer time evening.

“What actually struck me was the bodily depth of powwow singing, the pure quantity,” recollects Andrew Broder, a multi-instrumentalist from Minneapolis.

Half a decade later – with Broder’s assist and the eye he garnered at these festivals – Rainey is standing out in a manner that has gained him nationwide recognition and impressed folks to rethink music. of pow-wow, or at the least to acknowledge its distinctive energy.

In a prolonged August article titled “Upending Expectations for Indigenous Music, Noisily,” the New York Instances described Rainey’s new album “Niineta” as “layers of powwow songs [set] to industrial energy drums and static blizzards. Influential music information website Pitchfork additionally praised the document for “fusing pow-wow melodies with the timbres and rhythms of the twenty first century metropolis: techno, industrial, hip-hop, dub, noise.”

Again in south Minneapolis to carry out on the Decolonize Thanksgiving profit live performance on Friday on the Hook & Ladder — close to the Little Earth of United Tribes housing complicated the place he spent a lot of his youth — Rainey appears humbled in regards to the cautious but in addition assured that he’ll make his fellow Ojibwe and different native folks proud.

“The sword I am keen to die on elevates powwow music and modifications the view of what it’s,” he mentioned by cellphone from Oneida, Wis., the place he is lived for a 12 months. decade.

Do not get me unsuitable: he loves conventional powwow music and does not care.

“Powwows are social occasions open to anybody who needs to attend,” mentioned the 35-year-old musician and father of 5. “That is the great thing about them.”

But it surely was troublesome to get pleasure from this frequent magnificence through the COVID-19 quarantine, when all powwows and different massive social gatherings have been suspended.

Rainey mentioned he “felt trapped and helpless” with out the chance to play in drum teams. Via common journeys to go to household on the Crimson Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota most summers of his youth, he had attended, recorded and carried out at powwows because the age of About 8 years previous.

So Rainey scratched his head singing and creating music throughout quarantine with Broder’s assist. The Cloak Ox bandleader had mastered looping and home-recording strategies together with his experimental digital quantity Fog and was one among Rainey’s collaborators in these Eaux Claires performances – some carried out whereas parading throughout the sphere with out amplification , others on a stage deep within the woods.

“There was an actual fusion at Eaux Claires, whether or not it was enjoying with Low or with Broder or simply parading us round. It was a check, an experiment,” Rainey mentioned.

“Having that in my thoughts and seeing what might be executed put potentialities in my thoughts. And I saved that in my thoughts till quarantine got here. I had time to faucet into this creativity, to convey out this storage case.”

He started experimenting with digital recording tools and took the check outcomes to Broder, who then started to invent his personal rhythm loops and different instrumental elements that Rainey would then sing.

“Joe’s melodies and power dictated every thing that adopted,” Broder mentioned.

The top outcomes are seductive, haunting, hypnotic and cathartic suddenly. Songs like “Bezhigo” or “Simple on the Cide” function uneven, trip-hop tribal beats and dense layers of buzzing strings, electro-fuzz, and piano behind the variously mournful, indignant, and/or combative vocals. by Rainey.

The album title “Niineta” (pronounced “nee-NAY-tah”) is Ojibwa slang which means “simply me”. Rainey is not shy about crediting Broder because the mission’s co-creator — “I knew he’d convey within the noise issue I wished” — however it was nonetheless a private, lonely album for the powwow singer accustomed to group settings.

Rainey sings wordless melodies and sacred note-style vocal strains born out of conventional powwows. He doesn’t name them “songs”; he even titled a monitor “No Chants” because of this (and as a play on “no likelihood”). These are simply songs for him, those that mourn buddies who died younger or face injustice or provide no matter he felt popping out of music.

“There are all types of songs born out of powwows, and lots of, many individuals within the tribal group are higher powwow singers than me however won’t ever get written into the papers,” he mentioned. , earlier than returning to the group facet of the custom. “Everyone seems to be invited to sing.

He is pleased with custom, however you will not see Rainey performing in feathered headdresses or claiming to be the primary purveyor of conventional Ojibway life.

“Man, I am an city Indian,” he mentioned. “I can train you easy methods to bounce nicely. I am unable to present you easy methods to run a sweat lodge.”

He grew up just a few blocks from Little Earth within the Seward neighborhood and attended Minneapolis South Excessive College. Amongst his classmates was rapper Tall Paul, one among Minnesota’s main voices in Native hip-hop.

Together with his dueling background excessive in “Anglo colleges” and “res canine life” (his phrases), Rainey thinks he is a great match to carry out at Friday’s Decolonize Thanksgiving live performance on the Hook & Ladder. The fundraising live performance for First Nations Kitchen is billed as “a unique perspective on the vacations” in addition to a fundraiser.

“I needed to examine the European perspective of Thanksgiving, and I do know that is not the true story,” he mentioned. “We have to do higher at presenting these different views, and Thanksgiving is only a gateway to that.”

The live performance may even function Indigenous singer-songwriters Keith Secola and Annie Humphrey, and is led by American rocker David Huckfelt, who can be co-host of Duluth’s Water Is Life pageant with Indigenous activist Winona LaDuke. .

Huckfelt additionally thought Rainey was a great match for the gig after listening to his album: “It feels such as you’re being taken down the warpath with them, and the enemy is all of the cliches and conventions you might have. by no means heard about Indigenous folks and Indigenous music,” he mentioned.

Rainey himself did not describe it as a struggle, however he mentioned he was on a brand new path after mentioning presents to carry out at music festivals subsequent 12 months and different upcoming alternatives. . A not too long ago introduced live performance: he’ll play with Broder on the Cedar Cultural Middle on January 26 as a part of the Nice Northern Competition.

“I do not know the place this musical path goes to guide, or who’s all going to note it,” he mentioned. “However I really feel like I am on to one thing.”

Decolonizing the Thanksgiving Live performance

With: David Huckfelt, Keith Secola, Annie Humphrey and Joe Rainey with Andrew Broder.

When: 7:30 p.m. Fri.

The place: The Hook & Ladder Theater.

Tickets: $20 to $25, thehookkmpls.com.