The song by Blue Mountain Tribe, a video that catches the world’s attention
Looking back over the past year and a half, it’s safe to say that we’ve all been through dark things: a seemingly relentless global pandemic, social unrest and violence, financial upheaval and uncertainty – a real one. shopping list of woe and sadness.
But there is still room for hope – just ask the members of the blues-rock group Blue Mountain Tribe, whose latest single, “Pray for our Planet”, is catching on not only with the increase. broadcasts, but also with the accumulation of musical awards and with the film the juries of the festival for the song and the accompanying clip.
Although the group is based in Tehachapi, California, their message to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is not limited to geography.
The group is composed of Robin Hairston on vocals and harmonica (Chiricahua Apache); Caleb Hairston on lead guitar (Chiricahua Apache); Pat Mata on drums (Northern Band Chumash-Yokuts); and Jeff “Cooper Hawk” Cooper on bass (Cherokee). Formed 15 years ago, the group has twice won the Native American Music Awards, Best Music Video at the 2021 Latino & Native American Film Festival, and heads to the red carpet on July 30 in Las Vegas to clinch an award from Las Vegas Film Festival.
And it all happened thanks to a chance meeting with producer Michael Altman (who, among other things, wrote the lyrics for the theme song for the movie and TV show “MASH,” “Suicide is Painless.” Was the director. of the film).
Robin said the idea for the band as it is now came on a day when he and his son, Caleb, were watching a Native American band on PBS.
“We started out as a simple bar band, just playing on the bar scene. About two years later we were watching a PBS concert and it was an all Native American band called XIT, and they totally impressed us. They weren’t playing the traditional flute and drum – they went up there and just rocked it, ”he said. “I was so amazed… Caleb and I are Native Americans, and we’re just so glad the Native Americans could come up there and do something like that.”
Robin said it took about a year to find enough musicians of Native American blood to form the group. Robin and Caleb started writing songs about Native American history, culture, what they went through, he said.
“We submitted one of our songs to the Native American Music Awards and we won. We won the award for best blues song (for “Children on the Rez”), ”said Robin. “After that we won again for Best Live Performance by a Blues Band.”
To learn more about Blue Mountain Tribe, visit bluemountaintribe.com.
And now, “Pray for our planet,” whose inspiration, Robin said, came from a message from Chief Arvol Looking Horse asking people to pray for the planet because of all the troubles that are happening. “I went out into the garden and was really inspired by his lyrics so I started writing a song about what he was talking about,” Robin said.
What helped put the song on the radar was the chance meeting between Robin and Michael Altman.
“My friend and I are chopping firewood and here is this guy coming down the mountain on an ATV with a floating beard wearing John Lennon glasses and a big smile on his face going down the hill, and I thought, “Who is this guy?” I love it!’ I felt so close to him because he had a big smile on his face – he and I became friends, ”Robin said.
The two started talking about the band – Altman had seen them perform in town, and when “Pray for our Planet” came out Altman knew he could help get the song going – and a video was made, featuring the guys. at the famous Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, and including his brother, Robert Reed Altman, who directed the video.
Altman said he heard the Blue Mountain Tribe play in town before he met Robin, and the timing – this all happened during the pandemic, so all plans were on hold – was perfect.
“I said from the start that this was a mind-driven project,” said Altman. “I don’t know how it happened; he doesn’t know how it happened. My brother doesn’t know how it happened. We were like ‘Hey, let’s do this’ and boom. I was able to finance it, and my brother was able to do most of the technical work. And it just happened.
Next up: the band is working on their second album, and Robin said it was going to be more bluesy.
And for all of us, he offers this advice: “Don’t give up hope. We are under a lot of pressure with the violence that is going on, the hatred, these diseases that are emerging. And just to keep shining. Just keep shining. Don’t let the darkness overwhelm you; keep on shining, keep that light on for there is hope.