Wednesday, June 08, 2016

WACKY WEDNESDAY: A Mickey Mouse Pow Wow

The Black Lodge Singers
I don't profess to be an expert on pow wow music or actually any form of Native American music. I just know that I like a lot of pow wow songs and several of the groups that perform them.

Pow wow music typical consists of several drummers, often pounding on a single large drum. The drummers usually sing though some groups have singers standing behind the drummers. As a casual listener and a certified pale-face, a good pow wow song can seem almost hypnotic, even meditative.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica:

 Pow wow songs often reflect the style of music from the Plains area; the singers accompany themselves on a large bass drum, and the ensemble as a whole is known as a Drum. Each Drum includes three or more singers. Like many other aspects of 21st-century Native American life, pow wows generally promote indigenous culture, spirituality, and social unity. 

But, as Eugene Chadbourne writes in the AllMusic Guide, "there are pow wow songs about getting drunk, eating pizza, how pretty a girl looks, and a myriad of other subjects."

Remember, pow wows are not religious ceremonies, they are social events. And despite that old stereotype of the somber, stoic red man, (do people still believe that weird old crap?) some of the songs are downright funny.

The Black Lodge Singers, led by Blackfeet tribe member Kenny Scabby Robe, have been the Rolling Stones of funny pow wow songs since they released their 1996 album Kid's Pow-Wow Songs. In reviewing that record 20 years ago, I described the first time I heard them play this song below

At first, you think you are listening to regular pow wow music the deep, steady beating, the jangle of bells, the unison chanting with occasional individual yelps and cries. But then you start discerning words in English: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto too! They're all movie stars at Disneyland ...

And the Black Lodge Singers sing another mouse song. One thing for sure, you don't have to be a kid to love these songs. (This one's for you, Melissa!)

Here is a more recent song from a group called Northern Cree from Alberta, Canada. The group founders are from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation but other group includes members from other Treaty 6 area nations. And despite this next song, Northern Cree does have a Facebook page.

Unfortunately many of the following songs are not on YouTube, so I created this Spotify playlist including pow wow songs about the 3 Stooges, Pink Floyd, Oscar the Grouch, re-imagined versions of American classic like "Earth Angel" and "Who Let the Dogs Out" and one bitchen tune about riding in your boogie van.

Two of the three videos here are all from Walter B. Shepherd's Heap Plenty Funny YouTube channel. Many, if not most of the songs on the Spotify List are from Canyon Records.

And if you need even more pow wow music in your life, check out Pow Wow Radio, an old-fashioned internet radio station that plays non-stop, 24/7.

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