Canadian Musician - July/August 2017 - Page 42

The collection has been a resounding success on many levels, not least of which was a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Historical Album. “The support for Native North America has been very positive and very encouraging, and it’s been such an honour to connect with so many people who have given feedback to myself and the artists. It’s phenomenal,” Howes says. “I understand, because I fell in love with the recordings in the same way, in my travels.” One of his goals has been to see the artists in the collection get more music work, since they have always had trouble finding gigs outside of Indigenous communities. To that end, Howes started booking his own shows, bringing along artists such as Duke Redbird and Willie Thrasher. “It was really important for me to put on grassroots events to raise awareness about these artists and their history, their stories, but also that Native North America wasn’t just a museum piece – that it was a living and breathing history and we are blessed and honoured to have many of the artists still with us in the flesh, and many of whom are still active. So I wanted to showcase what the artists are doing here and now.” The people who came out to the shows included Indigenous and non-Indigenous fans, from young people to pensioners, from all sorts of backgrounds. Howes feels it has helped to make a difference. “It touches my heart to know that people have come together in appreciation over this music. And it has assisted, it is part of the process of reconciliation that is happening in this country right now. That’s really the success of it for me, but the artists still need to pay the bills, and that is a struggle that still exists as it has since the ‘60’s, regardless of the greater awareness for Indigenous music and culture 42 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N that is happening right now.” Willie Thrasher has enjoyed more gigs since the Native North America collection came out, including an appearance at the Winni- peg Folk Festival. He and Howes have been invited to appear at the youthful and trendsetting Sappyfest in Sackville, NB this summer as well. “I’ve been traveling quite a bit, doing music all over, traveling to Austin, went to Montreal, the whole Northwest Territories, Yukon Ter- ritories, Calgary, Red Deer, amazing things have been happening,” says Thrasher, at home in Nanaimo, BC, and getting ready for more touring this summer. Not only was he on the Native North America collection, Light In The Attic also reissued his 1981 album Spirit Child. “We got more recognized all over the world,” Thrasher continues. “Somebody told me that they saw my album in Switzerland, some say they saw it in England, musicians that I played with down in Texas said they had heard Native North America, Vol. 1, and they really loved it and bought it. Musicians that were well known there asked for my autograph, and they were so proud to meet someone from the Native north. People recognize Native North America, Vol. 1 as a really beautiful album.” Sent to a residential school himself, where in the past it was a topic people didn’t want to hear about, now Canadians and young people from his own culture want to hear those stories from him, thanks in part to the new interest raised by the compilation. “This went all over the world, like a big fire started, and it’s still burning,” Thrasher says. “People are still asking about it.” Like English and French artists, Aboriginal musicians are finding markets overseas as well. The Jerry Cans are from Iqaluit in Nunavut, Willie Thrasher