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DIVA NEWS ARCHIVE -- SEPTEMBER 2005


September 15, 2005

Arigon with Nick, Ross and ThaddeusARIGON TAKES OFF FOR TENNESSEE AND OKLAHOMA AND ROAD TESTS SONGS FROM "THE RED ROAD"

We hope YOU were one of the lucky ones to hear brand new songs from her upcoming one-woman show.

"There ain't nothing like living out of a suitcase," laughed Arigon. Our Diva has just returned to Los Angeles after a ten-day jaunt to the midwest. She flew out to Nashville, drove out to Oklahoma, returned to Nashville -- and learned a lot about herself in the process. "I know it's corny -- but there truly is nothing like being with family and good friends." [That's Arigon with drummer Nick Peters, Ross Wine-Sky and bassist Thaddeus Graham at the 5 Spot Cafe in Nashville. Don't their new Mariachi-styled suits look great?]

Arigon's first stop was to visit with her pals in Nashville, Mackenzi Johnson, Ross Wine-Sky & Lorre Mendelson, Sandra Schulman and Gary Bennett. "I was getting charts ready for Ross over at Bongo Java in East Nashville -- and in walked Sandra," said Arigon. "She's working on a project to honor legendary songwriter Peter LaFarge and had some bittersweet updates on how the project is going." As many of you know Peter LaFarge was a legendary folk singer in the early 1960s, from the Pima Nation and the author of the ultra-cool song "The Ballad Of Ira Hayes." "Ira Hayes" was covered by BOTH Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Here's a bit more info from a website featuring La Farge:

On Oct 27, 1964, Peter LaFarge died of a stroke (official version; rumors of him committing suicide persist):

In 1965 [sic] another Broadside songwriter "committed suicide." He was Peter La Farge, adopted son of Oliver La Farge, first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature -- the book was "Laughing Boy," a sympathetic treatment of the Navajo Indians. The F.B.I. took an interest in Peter and began hounding him when he organized FAIR (Federation for American Indian Rights). Several months before he died, the F.B.I. raided his New York apartment at midnight. They scattered and tore up his papers; they put handcuffs on him and dragged him to Bellevue in his pajamas [sic]. They put pressure on Bellevue to declare him insane, but Bellevue could find nothing wrong and turned him loose.

La Farge CDSandra Schulman is working on a documentary about LaFarge and a tribute CD. We're hoping it comes out real soon. Like Gram Parsons, LaFarge was a musical pioneer who died way too young, but influenced a lot of major artists. If you're interested in checking out the music of Peter LaFarge, you can order from Amazon.com. Just click on the CD cover and it will take you there.

Another great CD you might want to check out is Johnny Cash's album "Bitter Tears," which contains many of LaFarge's compositions. It is the first concept album in country music history and you'll get chills listening to Johnny sing "Ballad of Ira Hayes" and "As Long As The Grass Shall Grow." One of the many customer reviews about "Bitter Tears" says:

Johnny Cash Bitter Tears CD"The Ballad of Ira Hayes" is a true story. Ira Hayes actually helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945, returned home a broken man, turned to drinking, and died far too young. The song stands as Hayes' all too accurate poetic biography. Pete LaFarge's bleak lyrics apparently offended some, but no one can deny their raw power. In the context of "Bitter Tears" they bring out the paradox of the patriotic Pima Indian who helped defend the country that treated his people as second-class citizens. The song hit number 3 on the charts. Not a typical hit for any artist.

Another Native-influenced CD that is coming out in October is Marty Stuart's project "Badlands." Arigon attended the up-close-and-personal panel Marty did at the Americana Music Conference and enjoyed Marty singing a tune called "George Armstrong Custer Is Still Dead." You also might have seen the recent special about the project on CMT. Go visit Marty Stuart's official website for more information about the project.

Arigon in TahlequahArigon took off in her rental car for Tahlequah, Oklahoma with Gary Bennett's fine Gibson J-150. "If a guitar could have a fan club, this is the one that will get it started," smiled Arigon. "I've never seen people go so crazy for a piece of wood. AAAAY!" [That's Arigon with the guitar in Tahlequah.]

On Friday, September 2, Arigon joined Cherokee author and historian Robert J. Conley for an afternoon of pickin', grinnin' and booksignin'. Robert Conley has many fans across the country -- and tons of them are in town for the annual Cherokee Nation Homecoming event that runs every year during the Labor Day Holiday.

Also in attendance was the fine Cherokee artist Murv Jacob and his collaborator on a series of children's books for the University of New Mexico Press Deborah Duvall. They had "unofficial" Cherokee Holiday t-shirts on sale (you should see Arigon's tie-dyed version!!!), plus several of the books they've published. On of their books, "The Great Ball Game of the Birds and Animals" tells the tale of a supernatural game of stickball! The book was also awarded the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award for design and illustration. Ms. Duvall is also a fine singer-songwriter and joined Arigon on a song called "Whipperwill," which is based on Robert Conley's book "Mountain Windsong." "I truly think it's a testament to what a fantastic writer Robert is," said Arigon. "He gets us all to thinking a little differently -- which then inspires a bunch of us to pick up a pen and start drawing or writing."

Arigon was also ably assisted by Jeff Parker of Cimarron Sounds. Jeff has been doing some great work with the Cherokee National Youth Choir. Arigon's young cousin Tycilla is a member and was front and center with the choir during the festivities at the Cherokee State of the Nation. Tycilla's younger brother was also named "Little Mister Cherokee" and was featured in the parade down Main Street in Tahlequah. Arigon's other cousin, Sam Morris, Jr. was also in the parade, marching along with his students in the Stilwell High School Marching Band.

Cherokee History by Robert ConleyArigon's friends from California, Kay Cope, Terrie Restivo and Tom Trischler and his family were also there in addition to her pals Joyce Connelly and Joyce Taylor. "We spent many an evening either out by the hotel pool or over at Robert & Evelyn's house enjoying a bonfire. We talked about pretty much everything under the sun and caught up from last year. Things have changed, but our friendships are still strong."

Robert and Evelyn will be coming out to California in early October to promote his two new books "Cherokee Medicine Man" and "The Cherokee Nation: A History." Both books are selling really well -- and if you haven't ordered them yet, get right on it! Most of you already know that Robert Conley has written over 40 books, won multiple Western Spur and Wordcraft Native Writers Circle Awards and was awarded the Cherokee Medal of Honor in 2003. He is a pretty amazing guy!

Arigon also found time to perform with Robert at the Cherokee Heritage Center. "The acoustics in their lobby, which was pretty much wood, rock and glass, made for a nice 'Wall-Of-Sound' effect. That big ol' Gibson guitar filled the room -- and I did most of the songs I did at the Friday booksigning," she said. "'Mountain Windsong' was pretty much the favorite of the weekend -- but one of my new songs called 'A Box of Memories' was a close second."

Robert Conley at the Cherokee Heritage CenterShe also visited with Cherokee flute player Tommy Wildcat, Thunder Roads' Theater producer and actress Jana Rhoads and cousin Anthony Wamego. Tommy has a new "Cherokee Flutes" CD out. Jana and company are continuing to work on new theater projects in Tulsa (plus her Mom Norma was cute as a button). Anthony has been working on several projects, including being the double for actor Eric Schweig on TNT's mini-series "Into The West." "You never know who you'll run into in Tahlequah during the holidays," Arigon smiled.

The Diva also had a discussion with Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith about bringing "The Red Road" to Oklahoma during the upcoming National Congress Of American Indians conference. More on that as details are available. "Chad Smith has been a fan and supporter of my music for a long time -- so I'm really hoping we can make this happen," she said. Arigon also visited with his beautiful wife Bobbie Gail and well-known Cherokee storyteller Gayle Ross at the Saturday night Pow-Wow. "It was also fun to see my cousin Adam out there. He was still in his Gourd Dance regalia and told me he had been out there on the dance ground since 2:00pm! Those gourd dancers are hard-core! I also had time to visit with my other cousin Diane and her husband Gary during the Pow-Wow. They were planning on going out to the Stomp Dance -- which I unfortunately missed this year."

The Alford Bunch in TulsaArigon also drove over to Tulsa to visit with her Aunt Susie Alford and cousins Janene and Yvonne and their families. The family was treated to a very special performance of songs and stories from "The Red Road." "My biggest achievement was knowing that my family was okay with me telling those stories -- and that the flavor and facts of what it was like living in Oklahoma in the 1970s that I wrote into the play are accurate. We talked a lot about going to Chilocco and Riverside Indian Schools -- and whether or not watching some Indian girl doing the Lord's Prayer in sign language was at all enticing. Surprisingly -- it was. At least to one of my cousins. AAAY!," laughed Arigon. We're happy to report that Arigon was a BIG winner -- on the Penny Slots no less -- at the Cherokee Casino. "$77.07 was my take. Thanks, you Cherokees!," said the Diva. "My Aunt Susie did better than I did -- so did my cousin Janene. I need more practice!" [That's Arigon with the Alford family -- including Tia (who runs Arigon's Yahoo Fan Club), Dwayne Cahwee, Yvonne, Aunt Susie, Janene and Ray W with his girlfriend Denise (who actually KNOWS how to do the Lord's Prayer in sign language!) What a crew!]

Arigon got back in the rental car and headed east towards Nashville. "I had my XM Satellite Radio with me -- which is just a joy to listen to on long drives. The only thing that bummed me out was the constant bad news coming from Mississippi and New Orleans. I was happy to hear that my friend Gene Bates and his family were okay. They live in Metairie and I was real worried about them," she said.

Arigon with Chuck at the 5 SpotBand manager Janet Miner flew into Nashville, then they were joined by Arigon's expert band mates Nick Peters and Thaddeus Graham, plus her sister Gay Noble. Thursday was the beginning of the Americana Music Conference and the night of the 5 Spot Show. "I only made it one panel that day. It was about International press, touring and radio. The fabulous Bob Harris was there, in addition to some promoters and publicists from the UK. The bottom line here (in case you're a musician and might want to know this) is that you have to tour consistanty and often to make an impact in any international market. If I ever needed a Casino Daddy -- it's now! AAAY," grinned Arigon.

Meanwhile, over at East Nashville's 5 Spot, Ross Wine-Sky and Lorre Mendelson were bringing over his gear and some mighty tasty sandwiches -- and Janet chauffered in the band from the airport. Mackenzi Johnson was there -- so was Sandra Schulman, plus some fans who just happened to see a flyer in a Borders Book Store. There was also a writer from a new Native paper "The Tenasi Journal" who stuck around to interview Arigon for their newspaper. Ross performed a fine six song set which included songs from his CD Americana Road and new tracks he's working on for his next CD project. "The band's hands-down favorite had to be 'Stories From the L.A. SWAT Team' because it was such an unlikely subject for a Nashville singer-songwriter to perform," said Arigon. Many of you know that Ross is blind -- and a staunch advocate for Disability rights in Tennessee.

Also joining the group onstage was current BR549 bandleader Chuck Mead and former BR549 band member Gary Bennett. Chuck did justice to the "voice" of "Junior Frybread." "He told me several time throughout the weekend that he really enjoyed our set -- which made me feel very proud!" Chuck has been working on a new BR549 CD -- and is also readying a solo project. Chuck also performed a long set at the Bluegrass Inn, an ultra-cool Honky Tonk on downtown's Lower Broadway.

Arigon and Gary sing Mountain WindsongGary joined the band for "Mountain Windsong," the song that nearly always makes Robert Conley cry. "It's about the Trail of Tears -- but is also about Robert and his love for his wife Evelyn," said Arigon. "A lot of us look at Robert and Evelyn and wish we had that kind of love and support in life. They are role models!" Gary did a fantastic job of making the voice of that plaintive lost Cherokee man come alive.

He also performed during the conference at a nifty Chicken & Waffles party at the Ernest Tubbs Record shop on Lower Broadway. He also has a new CD project coming out that features performances from an all-star band including Marty Stuart, Kenny Vaughan, Jimmy Lester, Mark Winchester and pedal steel legend Lloyd Green. "It's just a matter of time until someone picks up his CD for distribution. It's got great tunes on it -- and as always, Gary sings them from the heart and soul. He's awesome," said Arigon.

Ross also stuck with the band for all of Arigon's set and added some tasty lead guitar licks to her songs. "I think the favorites during this show were 'Box Of Memories' and 'Please Do Not Touch The Indians.' Folks were really clapping along to that one,'" Arigon said. "We want to give the folks at the 5 Spot -- Diane Carrier, Travis, Shawn Byrne and Bones -- a big round of applause. It ain't easy to find somewhere in Nashville that has a great PA, comfy couches, a nice bar and just happens to be smoke free. Believe me, after spending a few nights in the Honky-Tonks I was extra grateful for the smoke-free aspect. We are spoiled out here in California. I have nothing against smokers -- I love cigars -- but the smoke does get in your hair, your purse....and oh well," she laughed. Diane and Shawn both expressed interest in having the band come back, so we'll let you know when they'll be making their way back.

Chris Scruggs eating ChickenArigon and her bunch stayed in Nashville for the rest of the weekend and everyone really enjoyed the Americana Music Awards show at the Ryman Auditorium. "Nick had never been to Nashville before. He's a really big country music fan and it was fun to see the city through his eyes. He especially loved seeing the Ryman and hanging out on Lower Broadway."

The kids also took a tour of Nashville, including dining at the Elliston Place Soda Shop, picking out CDs at the Great Escape, buying vintage at Katy K's Ranch Dressing and visiting Gary over at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop near Opryland. "Gary's the manager over there so it's fun to go pick on him at work," teased Arigon. "No, he's really sweet and encouraged us to take that photo on Ernest Tubb's bus. I think we look pretty cool." [That's Chris Scruggs partaking of the Chicken and Waffles at the downtown Ernest Tubbs Record Shop. Chris also perfomed at the AMA Conference - - debuting some new material at the Mercy Lounge.]

Camille, Gary, Al and ArigonThe Diva also had fun visiting with her friends Al and Camille, who live in New Jersey. "We found each other at the Ryman show -- and then saw each other at the Chicken and Waffles thing and at Chuck's show. They're great folks!" The group also ran into Chuck and his wife Brenda Colladay, Sandra Schulman and Gail Davies and her boy Chris Scruggs before the Ryman Show. "I asked Gail if she would sing with me on the next record -- and she said yes! I am thrilled," smiled Arigon. [That's Arigon with Camille, Gary and Al after his great set at the Chicken and Waffles party.]

We'll have more news for you next week -- including who's directing "The Red Road" for the November Native Voices at the Autry Festival of Plays -- and hopefully when Arigon's episode of "Barbershop" will air.

Happy trails!

 

 



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