Seven day Weekend: Tinariwen, Blackfire and Spirits in my House

July 20, 2005
As we bomb, bash & torture brown people in the name of democracy & freedom Tinariwen at Joe's Pub offered a fractured sense of joy. Having met at a rebel training camp in Libya, the Tuareg-rockers traded in their guns for guitars to play mesmerizing songs of resistance---cries for sovereignty for the Tuareg people. This is political consciousness-raising through art, speaking to the displacement and misery of a people in exile, pressed down in their home country of Mali. Music critics love Tinariwen for their original hypnotic trance garage sound. I like the cultural sociology of seeing Berbers toting Stratocasters. Sometimes it almost sounds like surf music but there's only sand waves in the SubSahara....Osama don't surf.

July 19, 2000
The night before the show at Joe's Pub, there to see Blackfire's show at Continental, the Toureg soul rebels wore surfy slacker Western clothes--including a pair of fashion Army fatigues. Since Tinariwen are rock stars, I cajoled a photo op, up against the sacred South wall that hosts shrines to Joey Ramone (right side) and Johnny Bully (left). Angels over my shoulders.

Back Even Further in Time:
Tinariwen and Blackfire both performed at the Festival in the Desert in 20o3. I met Tinariwen through Blackfire, who I met through the Ramones, who met Blackfire on the road. CJ Ramone produced their first EP, Joey sang on their second. Blackfire recently won group of the year at the Native American Music Awards. Fusing punk with traditional sounds the activist Navajo punk trio from Black Mesa slam against the social toxins of eco-cide, genocide, domestic violence and race war.
Sometimes the stunning siblings perform as the Jones Benally Family, with father, a Dine (din-eh) medicine man. They tour reservations, performing traditional dances, helping to restore hope and knowledge of the old ways to anomic Native youth. Blackfire travels the astral-globe mixing up traditional Dine chanting, grace and raw-power-to-the-people punk, inciting nomads of Mali and drunk German punks alike to stand up, speak out & get themselves free.

During our full-moon-in-Aquarius binge of music, politics and culture, Blackfire also hosted the release party for their new CD/DVD, Beyond Warped. At the American Indian Community House at 404 Lafayette, frontman/guitarist/filmmaker/eldest son Klee Banally screened Beyond Borders, mixing music and live tour footage from around the world---including Africa, Mexico, Europe. Klee is an activist, heartset to save the San Francisco Peaks, a mountain in Northern Arizona sacred to thirteen tribes. With sister/bassist Jeneda and brother/drummer Clayson, Blackfire showcased Snowball Effect, their DIY documentry about the Snowball Ski Resort, newly situated on Native American sacred ground.

In the name of "recreation" the ski resort utilizes waste water for snow-making. Like spitting in holy water, mooning the Wailing Wall, or flushing the Koran down the toilet, "reclaimed" U.S. waste-water dripping down a holy mountain inflicts an insidious form of psychic torment on the tribes, who use the terrain for worship, ritual and prayer. Meantime, the scuzzy waste-water snow carries pollutants, including high levels of hormones, including estrogen. Scientists suspect this contributes to feminization of fish, possibly impacting humans too.

All this, as our own sacred mountain is under siege, right here in NYC. Only a few feet away from holy Joey Ramone Place we are howling at the moon as real estate greed and bad urban planning threaten to destroy our Punk Mecca, CBGB's. Flush those gnarly waste-water snowballs right here.

Keep the faith, baby....