Arigon Starr’s fourth CD release was a compilation of the songs she created for her one-woman play “The Red Road” and extra songs she had written between the release of “Backflip” and the creation of the one-woman show.
The project was a huge success. The CD won honors from First Americans in the Arts as the “Best Contemporary CD” and the Native American Music Awards recognized Arigon as the Songwriter of the Year for 2006.
Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Sandra Schulman for “News From Indian Country” prior to the debut of “The Red Road” play in Los Angeles.
ARIGON STARR BRINGS HER TALENTS TO THE RED ROAD
One-woman play and new CD
By Sandra Hale Schulman
Los Angeles, California (NFIC)
From stage to screen to your local music store, multi-talent Arigon Starr is combining all her talents into her biggest “road” show yet. Starting in late March, her one-woman show “The Red Road” will make its’ world premiere at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. The play runs through Sunday, April 30.
After all the music success, she was encouraged to add acting to her list of accomplishments. She received rave reviews last spring as The Nurse in Native Voices at the Autry’s “Kino & Teresa” and has won two Best Actress Awards from First Americans in the Arts for her lead roles in Native Voices at the Autry’s Equity productions of “The Buz’Gem Blues” and “Please Do Not Touch The Indians.” Recent TV appearances include guest spots on “Barbershop” and top rated soap opera “General Hospital.”
“I have been watching GH since I was a kid,” said Arigon. “My grandma, Flora Cornell, used to tell me and my sister Gay to finish our chores before noon so we could watch the stories. I sort of made this a habit, AAAY!,” she laughed.
“The closest I ever got to GH was when I was a trustee for First Americans in the Arts. One year, the organization gave Choctaw actor Tyler Christopher (Nikolas Cassadine) an acting award – and the actors who played Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary), Bobbie Spencer (Jackie Zeman) and Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil) showed up for the ceremony,” she remembered. “I never really dreamed I’d actually ever be on the show.”
During the summer of 2005, AFTRA’s Roxanne Brown set up an interview with “General Hospital’s” casting director Mark Teschner.
“I thought it went okay – but again, didn’t think they’d ever call me in,” she smiled. The call finally came in during late December – and Arigon was cast as “Courtney’s neighbor” in a scene with GH’s resident hunk Ingo Rademacher. Ingo is Jasper “Jax” Jacks, a wealthy business tycoon whose marriage to mobster Sonny Corinthos’ sister Courtney has been on the rocks.
“GH and Port Charles is almost as exciting as what’s going in Tulsa, LA or Nashville,” she laughed. “I think I know some of the storylines on GH better than I should,” Arigon guffawed.
Here’s some trivia – some of Arigon’s best friends have been on the soaps. Both Jean Bruce Scott and Randy Reinholz of Native Voices at the Autry were on NBC’s “Days Of Our Lives” – and director Ken Martines (Kino & Teresa) played a baddie on ABC’s “Port Charles.” Arigon and Ingo’s encounter is brief – but it’s a lot of fun.
“One of the crew members joked that I was like ‘Nurse Betty,’ (the character played by Renee Zellweger in the comedy film of the same name) because I seemed to know everybody’s business,” Arigon laughed. “It was a really great set to work on. Everyone was really nice – and man, that Ingo is something else! I also can’t explain to you what a thrill it was to walk past the sets for the General Hospital reception hub and the lobby of the Quartermaine’s mansion,” she said.
Imagine, a Kickapoo-Creek in Port Charles! There goes the neighborhood. “I tell you, those casting calls are often more interesting than the job!” she says with a laugh. “When I went up for the “Cold Case Files” I knew everybody in the room, all the same Indian women come to these auditions when the call goes out. The real coup is getting a non-traditional part. I did a reading for a Michael Douglas movie, which I didn’t get, but it was just for a female cop, not necessarily an “ethnic” role. I got a second call, which is a pretty big deal, so I feel the boundaries are shifting, and you have to be so good that you’re seen as just actors.”
“The Red Road” came from a trucker song Arigon wrote a few years back. Her manager Janet Miner suggested she expand that into a one-woman show with music. They presented it to The Autry Theater – where Arigon has starred in several productions – and it was promptly commissioned.
“The Red Road” takes place in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, in June 1977 at Verna Yahola’s fictional All Nations Café. A well-known diner/truck stop, the Café is home to Indians, truckers, cowboys and groups like the Future Farmers of America.
Legendary country music star Patty Jones (who just happens to be Choctaw) is taping her tenth anniversary special at the Café. Lights and cameras often attract strange folks – including two die-hard Indian activists, a Bingo-obsessed Ojibway elder and a British punk rock star. Mix them all together with some country music and you’ve got The Red Road. And yes, Arigon plays ALL of the characters. Men, women, kids, elders, hillbillies and Brits.
“The Red Road is one of the damndest, knee-slapping, raucous rides I’ve ever had. It’s chockfull of fine music and weird characters, all played to perfection by Arigon herself. Don’t miss this one!” said Robert J. Conley, multi-award winning Cherokee author and historian.
After the Autry run (March 30th to April 30th) she is taking the show to Australia and to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. March 30th is also the CD release date both in stores and online at CDBaby, Amazon and Yahoo music.
“The Red Road” marks her debut as a playwright and solo performer and inspired twelve new songs that were recorded this year in Los Angeles and Nashville with a who’s who “A” list of musical talent including: Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives), Gary Bennett (Grammy nominated co-founder or country band BR549), Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams, Jewel, Tracy Chapman), Skip Edwards (Dwight Yoakam), Chris Lawrence (Mike Ness, Shooter Jennings), Stuart Duncan (Earl Scruggs, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, etc.), John Hatton (Brian Setzer Orchestra), Thaddeus Graham (Vonda Shepherd) and Scotty Lund (Agent Orange).
Native Voices at the Autry developed “The Red Road” with Arigon through their 2004 playwrights retreat (original idea set in motion), 2005 playwrights retreat (first draft submitted and workshopped), a three week workshop and residence at Griffith University in Brisbane Australia at a World Indigenous Theater event, numerous weeklong workshops in San Diego throughout 2005, the 2005 November play reading festival and four preview performances (at Tulsa’s Cherokee Casino in Nov. 2005 and the Theater of the World Festival in San Diego in Feb. 2006).
This very funny play about contemporary Native peoples shares the stories of American Indians in the cities and on the reservation. It also highlights the diversity of Native America including Cherokees, Choctaws, Pawnees, Apaches, Osages, Creeks, Kiowas and Navajos.
This family friendly play can be enjoyed by all ages, from young school age kids to hipsters to elders.
Interwoven throughout the play are twelve original songs. Some are performed by the country singer Patty Jones – others by the Navajo frycook named Emmitt Tsinajinnie, a rockabilly love song from Indian activist Richard Doolittle, a sweet, yet angry protest song from his sister Bonnie Doolittle and a punk song about wanting to be an Indian from punk rocker Danny Dacron. Arigon performs all the songs in character.
“The Red Road – Original Cast Recording.” Recorded in Los Angeles at Mad Dog Studios and in Nashville at House of David Studios. All songs written, arranged and produced by Arigon Starr.
The Red Road premiered on Thursday, March 30 at the Wells Fargo Theater at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.