Black Whistle Singers,
Remembering Friends
(Kiva, 1999)

I enjoyed Remembering Friends from beginning to end. This CD contains a wide variety of Native American music, from the traditional to contemporary. Some selections are in song chants and others are songs in English. This band from the Crow Reservation does it all. If you like Native American music, be sure to get this one.

The tempo ranges from a very slow, heavy, deep beat to a fast-paced, higher-pitched cadence. All of the songs are Northern Plains traditional or based in traditional style with slight contemporary modifications. The vocabals run the spectrum from chanting and wailing to yips and barks. There is intensive layering with opposing melodies and wonderful harmonies. Many of the pieces contain interesting rhythm changes.

There are two songs in English that pack powerful messages. I really like "Black Whistle." The words and music are superb, detailing the band's desire to set an example for children and lead the way for them. They pray that the children will grow up to be clean and strong because of the messages in these traditional songs. The synthesizer work and layering is mystifying. The chanting in the background sounds like it is in the distance and draws you deeply into the song. The ending is killer with a fade out to the chanting in the far distance.

"LaCrosse" demonstrates Black Whistle's ability to drag a harmony into an off key and bring it back while keeping the harmony intact. "Mad Dog Special" has the best chant layering and the strongest female singing. The drum is quite emphatic during the rhythm changes in this one.

Black Whistle consists of Duwayne Blacksmith, Johnny T. Yellowtail, Darrin Old Coyote, Jay Old Coyote, Jeff McDonald, Clinton Nomee, Chuck Salway, Brian Old Crow, Albert Gros-Ventre, Evan Pretty On Top, Edmund Old Crow, Kenny Shane, John Gros-Ventre, Dean Don't Mix, Buzzy Cover's Up, Manuel Cover's Up, Paul Cover's Up and Jeremy Shield. The women backup singers are Alpha Old Coyote, Bobbi Jo Old Coyote, Roxanne Old Crow, Thelma Other Medicine and Rosie Other Medicine.

Other tracks on this CD include "Back in the Groove," "Crow Boy Up," "Mellow Groovin'," "Da It'Chlk Strut," "Apsaalooke Blues" and "Indian Express." Some selections are a collaboration with the world music band, The Atoll, of the Fort Collins area.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 26 July 2003



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