(From For the Record of Saturday, April 13, 1996:) Jim Boyd and Rez Bound will perform tonight at The Met. Tickets cost $7 in advance, $10 at the door. The date was wrong in Friday’s Weekend magazine.
Jim Boyd is singing a happy song these days.
Fresh off a set of performances with writer Sherman Alexie, the Colville Nation singer/songwriter is feeling the warmth of national interest.
In Portland last year, Boyd and Alexie appeared on a bill with the Indigo Girls. Indigo Girl Amy Ray liked them so much she asked them to contribute a song for a compilation CD on her Daemon Records. Boyd and Alexie submitted “Small World” from their collaborative CD “Reservation Blues.” Their song will be surrounded by work from the likes of the Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, Soul Asylum and Matthew Sweet. Songs by Indian activists Joy Harjo and John Trudell will also appear.
“Somebody was saying that Willie Nelson was going to do a song,” Boyd said last week.
More good news came when, on a whim, Boyd took his song, “My Heart Drops, But I’m Proud” to the Los Angeles Songwriters Showcase Expo.
“I wasn’t going to do it,” Boyd said. “You have to fight your way into a room where major-label A&R; (artists and repertoire) guys evaluate all these songs people submit.”
But in two of the three rooms where it was heard with about 80 other songs, “My Heart Drops” was singled out for special attention. As a result, Mercury Records is interested in hearing more from Boyd.
Warner Western, the cowboy music label Michael Martin Murphey helped found, is dropping hints that it would like to pick up distribution rights for “Reservation Blues,” as is the Albuquerque-based Indian label, Soar Records.
Boyd is ambivalent about majorlabel entreaties.
“I know enough about working with the major labels that, even though I’d like to get an offer, I’m not sure I’d take it. I’ve known other people who have done that and it’s never as good as it sounds.”
Boyd’s had his shot at the big time - for two years, he played guitar with a national Indian act called Xit.
For now, though, he’s is happy doing it on his own. His wife, Shelly, will soon complete her masters degree at Gonzaga University and the couple plans to return to the reservation where she will work as a counselor. Jim will continue to perform and promote Indian entertainers and artists though his company, Thunderwolf Productions.
He has visions of taking over an old theater in Coulee City, Wash. and presenting shows throughout the summer.
In the immediate future, there’s his new group, Rez Bound, which he will showcase tonight at The Met. The occasion for tonight’s show is the release of a new single from an upcoming album, but for many fans it’s the first chance to hear what Boyd’s music sounds like fleshed out with other musicians.
Rez Bound is the reincarnation of an earlier group, a reservation cover band called Greywolf. Bass player Jerry Stensgar is one of Boyd’s oldest friends. When Boyd’s father retired from the Air Force and brought his family home to Inchelium, Wash., Boyd recruited Stensgar to play bass in his fledgling garage band.
“I must have been 12 or 13,” he said, “and I had to play ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘Gloria.’ I didn’t know how to play guitar myself but I showed him a few things on bass.”
Drummer Alfonso “Fonso” Kolb is a native of the San Luis Eo Tribe from Southern California’s Rincon Reservation. He has played with the national Indian act Winterhawk.
Greywolf broke up five years ago when Boyd quit drinking and began working the introspective material that became the basis for the solo career that has occupied him for the past few years.
After years of making music on alcohol, Boyd struggled to reestablish himself as a sober performer.
“I had low self-esteem coming back after I quit drinking. At first, I wouldn’t let anybody listen to my music.”
But he began making occasional public appearances, including his popular sets at the yearly Gathering of Four Winds show which he organizes.
Then Alexie, a poet and novelist from the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene tribes, extended the opportunity to collaborate and Boyd found himself in front of crowds that were paying attention to his work.
“It’s been great for me to have people really sit and listen,” he said.
As Boyd has gained confidence, the power of his performances has grown, too. Now, when he sings a song like “Indian Man,” a palpable thrill runs through his largely Indian audience.
The song chronicles the coming of age of a young Indian who must defeat prejudice, alcoholism and the stifling images of Indians perpetuated by the media.
It takes its toll, Boyd said, and many Indian children grow up wishing not to be Indian.
“As a kid, I remember watching the Westerns - nobody wanted to be the Indians. I don’t know how many times I heard that growing up, kids saying, ‘I’m not an Indian.”’
So the affirming words of “Indian Man” have a real impact for others who have faced the same struggle: “I’m an Indian man and I love the fact/I’m an Indian man who won’t apologize for that.”
They’re words Boyd has fought hard to believe and they resonate deeply with those who share his history. “Those are real events in the song,” he said, “and a lot of these guys have been through that.”
Native artist Rick Gendron will show his work in The Met Gallery before and after the show.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: JIM BOYD AND REZ BOUND Location and time: The Met, tonight at 8. Tickets: $7 ($10 at the door) available at Auntie’s, Main and Washington; Creative Native, 7202 E. Sprague; Wolves of Wisdom, 6315 E. Sprague and Moonshadows, 2 N. Howard (The first 500 ticket buyers get a free copy of the single CD.)
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