News / Winnipeg

Aboriginal Music week mixes the traditional with… everything

Six days, 12 concerts, 34 acts, one nation. Aboriginal Music Week 2012 kicks off Tuesday and runs through Sunday at various downtown Winnipeg venues.

The fourth annual festival showcases the diversity of Aboriginal music, presenting First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Native American musicians performing hip hop, electronic, world, folk, rock, country and blues music. AMW features such acts as Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Oklahoman/Choctaw artist Samantha Crain and Apache guitarist Stevie Salas.

“Stevie’s played for George Clinton, Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger,” Alan Greyeyes said, AMW chairperson and head of programming. “He did the guitar playing for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and he’s been a songwriting coach for America Idol in the past, just a genuine rock star.”

Another Aboriginal act that Greyeyes is especially excited about is A Tribe Called Red. The Ottawa DJ crew mixes traditional pow wow music with contemporary club sounds, a combination its dubbed “pow wow step”.

“Pow wow culture is still really vibrant,” DJ Indian said, one third of the 2012 Polaris Music Prize-nominated group. “It’s not that we’re doing something completely different than what pow wow is or has been, we’re just finding a way to be make it current and urban, reflect where we are now as a nation that’s become urbanized.”

A Tribe Called Red plays Friday at the Pyramid Cabaret with Brazilian funk carioca warrior Zuzuka Poderosa, a night dubbed the Electric Pow Wow. Greyeyes hopes programming these cutting-edge acts will not only attract Winnipeg’s young, urban Aboriginal population, but also a non-Aboriginal audience.

“We’re targeting an Aboriginal audience, but we’re also trying to bridge the gap between the Aboriginal music community and the general public,” Greyeyes said. “These are not only Aboriginal artists; they’re great artists, world-class artists.”

For more information on AMW, including venue and ticket info, visit

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