Indigenous Credit: J M ECOFFEY

Indigenous was formed by guitarist Mato Nanji, along with his brother, sister, and cousin, in the 90s. As Native Americans growing up on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, they originally heard the sounds of blues from Nanji’s father—a musician who regularly played this style of music around the house. Though his family members eventually left the band to pursue other interests, Nanji has kept it going strong. Forty years ago, a band like Indigenous would have been considered a commercial rock group with blues elements, but in some circles today it’s considered to be a straight-up blues band. If you have to go the blooze-rock route, you could do a lot worse. Mato Nanji’s guitar work is very prominent, and though it has tone similar to that of Stevie Ray Vaughan, it’s clear Nanji is not a disciple of the famed musician. What sets Indigenous apart from most in its subgenre is that its members have a definite sense of taste and swing, as well as decent songwriting skills, and it’s always been blessed with a tight rhythm section too, which you can hear on its most recent album, Grey Skies (Blues Bureau International). When the band aims for a solid shuffle rhythm, such as on “Lonely Days,” it usually hits the target, and when the group decides to funk it up, it generally avoids all the cliches that make other blues-rock bands sound like a poor man’s Little Feat. Nanji has carried on the Indigenous name with different lineups for 20 years now; it’s to his credit that the concept still sounds fresh after all this time.   v

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