Every April for nearly three decades, the Gathering of Nations has brought indigenous groups from around the continent to Albuquerque to celebrate Native culture and traditions. The powwow, which claims the title of North America’s largest, is three days of music, dance, markets, food and cross-culturalism.
Any large event of note naturally breeds spin-offs: In Albuquerque during the Gathering, one of the most successful has been Rock The 9 Native Music Festival. Its mascot is the infamous Bedonkohe Apache war chief and U.S. prisoner Geronimo, clutching a guitar instead of a rifle. Now in its fifth year, the fest includes three nights of guitar-powered rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and country, showcasing bands from far and wide. This year’s event is hosted by L.A.-based comedy trio Another Indian Uprising and includes a fourth night wherein journalist and radio personality Harlan McKosato will be roasted.
Rock The 9 2012 is especially poignant for its co-founder and organizer, Navajo and Hopi guitarist and vocalist J.J. Otero. At Saturday’s show his own soul rock band Saving Damsels will release its second album Find My Way.