Tha Tribe,
Mad Hops & Crazy Stops
(Canyon, 2003)

Tha Tribe hails from Lawrence, Kan., and recorded these pow-wow pieces during the 49th annual Chicago Indian Centre Pow-wow. The group is widely recognized for its challenging and entertaining second-dance songs at pow-wow competitions. The pow-wow has grown to be a well-recognized North American social and spiritual exercise. It is marvelous to hear the tradition of dance music as carried on by the young people on this CD.

Unlike the first-dance songs, which have a standard rhythm, second-dance songs have varied rhythms and are a special challenge for the dancers. On this CD, the drummers sit around a large drum and singers gather around the drummers. There are over 20 names listed as participants.

What I liked most was the energy level. The music is mighty; what we hear is a very energizing music and the voices of the singers are strong and clear. Songs appear to be made for certain dances. The most prominent of the 13 tracks are "Map Hop," "Buffalo Jump," "When She Dances," "Otter Creek Jo" and "Northern Routes." All of these are listed as Crow Hops made by Jeremy Shield and sung in Crow.

My two favorite were "Mack Baunsee" and "When She Dances." The first I liked because of its strong, energetic beat, very full of life, and the second because of its feminine, gentle sound and inspired accompaniment of guitar and flute. The acute contrast between these two songs attests to the superb skills of these drummers and singers. I have to mention "Hearbreaking Eyes" as a favorite, too. It's really beautiful with its mournful voices and soft drum beats.

Overall, the drum beats have a settling quality that I was surprised by but really appreciated. As the vocal energy rises, everything is grounded by the drumming. I think listening to this CD is like much like having a massage that leaves your skin tingling, your muscles stimulated and your mind relaxed in the moment when it's over. I will listen to this CD a lot and think it's a good choice for fans. It's probably a really good album for traditional dancers to listen to and practice with.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 10 July 2004

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