Saturday July 15: Indigenous


The blues/rock band Indigenous came to prominence in the late 1990s with music influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and Carlos Santana. Band leader Mato Nanji’s style and skill has drawn comparisons to each of these guitarists. This will be a spectacular Blues/Rock act presented by Upstage at Studio Bob.

The band has shared the stage with artists of varying musical genres – B.B. King, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls, Jackson Browne, Dave Matthews Band, and Los Lonely Boys – and headlines its own tours. In 1999, Indigenous won three Native American Music Awards for their debut record, including two top honors: Album of the Year and Group of the Year. The track “Now That You’re Gone” peaked at #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart, making Indigenous one of the first Native American bands to break into that realm.

Amazon.com named the Indigenous Blues Artist of the Year. They’ve been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “CBS Saturday Morning,” and “Austin City Limits”. B.B. King became a self-proclaimed fan, and invited the band to join his Blues Festival Tour.

In addition to his Indigenous ‘day job’, Mato Nanji has been a member of the critically acclaimed Experience Hendrix Tour since 2002. Playing alongside original Jimi Hendrix band members Billy Cox and the late Mitch Mitchell, the tour roster includes some of today’s blues greats including Buddy Guy, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble), Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, and Robert Randolph. Once the 2012 Experience Hendrix Tour concluded, Mato and fellow EHT tour mates David Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars) would collaborate and release the hard-driving disc 3 Skulls and the Truth (Blues Bureau International). The album’s no-holds barred setting was the ideal foundation for the three veteran axemen to simply ‘let it fly’.

The family band originally consisted of two brothers, Mato Nanji (Maiari)(‘mah-TOE non-GEE’ vocals and guitar), Nanji Pte (‘peh-TAY’ bass guitar), their sister, Wanbdi (‘wan-ba-DEE’ drums, vocals), and cousin, Horse (percussion).The Nakota Nation members grew up on South Dakota’s Yankton Indian Reservation, where their father, Greg Zephier was a spokesperson for Native American rights. A musician in his own right during the 1960s and 1970s, Zephier provided his children with records from blues musicians(like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Freddie King) and taught them to play their respective instruments. The family toured together, the children soon performing on their own.

Mato has now joined forces with members of the Navajo Nation’s award winning Levi and The Plateros. Their meeting occurred at the largest Pow Wow in the world, The Gathering of Nations. The band lineup is Mato Nanji, Bronson Begay and Douglas Platero. Indigenous recordings continue winning Native American Music Awards and hitting Billboard’s Top Blues Albums Chart. Their last CD, Vanishing Americans, paid homage to Mato’s father, Greg Zephier, Sr. It is dedicated to indigenous youth and all young people on indigenous reservations.