Native Guitars Tour in Nashville: A first for Indigenous music in the South
Via NGT Photography

NASHVILLE—The sound of electrifying Indigenous guitar music could be heard in Music City when the Native Guitars Tour (NGT) graced Nashville with a rhapsody of the music of a collective of artists from the Tribal nations of the Southwest and the Great Plains.

The line-up of musicians included Levi Platero, Navajo Nation; Sage Bond, Navajo/Apache; Scotti Clifford, Lakota/Cheyenne; Jir Anderson, Cochiti Pueblo; Mozart Gabriel, Taos Pueblo/Navajo; Olivia Komahcheet, Comanche/Otoe; Mike Burno, Muisca of Colombia; Rico Del Oro, Durango/Guanajuato; and Dach Martin, Dakota/Navajo.

The prodigious talent on display was truly inspiring, as all were immensely gifted musicians. The range was amazing and was amplified by the colossal aptitude of these Indigenous artists. Themes taken from Native culture and more reverberated throughout the venue.

The program, which took place on the afternoon of Sept. 21, was held in the Blue Room, a well-known Nashville music venue. It was organized by Mozart Gabriel, who now resides in Nashville. Gabriel—who is also a musician, independent filmmaker, and visual artist—was asked by Josh Green, a city booking agent, to curate the Native Guitars Tour for a Nashville venue.

The event was three months in the making and marked the first time that the Native Guitars Tour had played east of the Mississippi.

Native Guitars Tour was founded in 2007 with the goal of providing support, advocacy, and opportunity for Indigenous musicians, artists, and songwriters to pursue their vocations in the fields of their talents. NGT was seen as a way to maintain a hold on history through songs, stories, language, and the strengthening of tribal sovereignty.

The presentations cover a tremendous range reflective of Indigenous tradition and also contemporary elements, all with the resounding ambiance of great talent that will appeal to listeners from all walks of life.

Moreover, the NGT sees as a further part of its mission the empowerment of the Tribal community of artists by way of live performances, workshops, mentorships, virtual programming, open mic nights, and employment opportunities for Tribal artists.

NGT exerts efforts to create a space that honors tradition, recognizes the talents possessed by Indigenous people, and promotes the well-being of Tribal nations as they continue to move through contemporary society. NGT is about maintaining a firm foothold in identity, heritage, and culture. The overall mission is to advance Indigenous music, as well as art and fashion. NGT also provides audio and equipment training to aspiring Indigenous artists.

NGT has played over the years at numerous venues throughout the West, including concerts in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and most recently on a two-night community festival in Santa Fe and a three-night run in Albuquerque. Their next event is scheduled for the Indigenous Peoples Day Festival in Phoenix, Ariz., on Oct. 9. This celebration is sponsored by Cahokia, an Indigenous-led, Indigenous women-owned art and entrepreneurial space.

NGT has also toured in Europe. The year 2018 saw performances in Paris and Munich.

The founder and Director of NGT is Jir Anderson, who is also a singer and songwriter. He has been playing guitar for over 30 years and says NGT “wants artists who are in tune with their heritage and culture and who we are as Indigenous people.

“Nashville was a great opportunity for Native American artists,” he told People’s World. “Each had a different style that was very unique. We wanted to show how vast talent is in Native America and the tremendous capabilities among our peoples,” remarked Anderson. NGT focuses largely on community-based events.

If NGT plays in a location near you, with its blazing guitars and violin prodigies, don’t miss it. Join the journey with this community on the move.


Albert Bender
Albert Bender

Albert Bender is a Cherokee activist, historian, political columnist, and freelance reporter for Native and Non-Native publications. He is currently writing a legal treatise on Native American sovereignty and working on a book on the war crimes committed by the U.S. against the Maya people in the Guatemalan civil war He is a consulting attorney on Indigenous sovereignty, land restoration, and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) issues and a former staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Oklahoma (LSEO) in Muskogee, Okla.