Indigenous has been setting the underbrush of the musical world on fire. That is to say, they are growing rapidly in popularity with a grass roots following of mostly younger listeners as well as seasoned blues fans. This is no doubt due in part to their near tireless touring. Playing to packed rooms in smaller clubs on off-nights, as well as weekends in larger rooms (Chicago's House Of Blues) and festivals, Indigenous is on a dues paying mission that is beginning to snowball. Following the success of their debut recording, Live; Blues From the Sky, their second release, Things We Do, is now a major thrust in their effort to get the word out.
Indigenous is a group that is also a family of three brothers and a sister who have been playing together from the time they were children on the Nakota Reservation in Yankton, South Dakota. Having seen them live a few times, I can attest to the fact that they seem to read each other on stage as one mind. Brothers, Horse on percussion and congas and Pte on bass, along with sister, Wanbdi on drums are a perfect backdrop of steroidal rhythm for their elder brother, Mato Nanji's acrobatic guitar work and solid vocals.
If you've ever heard Indigenous, you know that the comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix are unavoidable. Mato has clearly studied these forbearers (with a little Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton thrown into the mix), but his use of these influences is just as clearly out of reverence to the masters rather than mimicry, as Stevie was to Albert King. Mato is a gifted guitarist who is developing before our very eyes and ears, much in the way the aforementioned guitarists did over their recording histories. As did his predecessors, Mato is well on the way to establishing his own style.
As a group, Indigenous makes easy listening of rock edged blues. With a propensity toward medium tempos and with attention paid to the totally in-the-pocket bass and drums, nothing ever feels forced or over-done, even when Mato is tearing the frets off.
This fire in the underbrush could light up the sky at any moment. The growth in the band from their first release, which is very good, to Things We Do is evidence that Indigenous is definitely the band to watch in 1999.
This review is copyright © 1999 by Kurt Koehler, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.