Mickey Hart / Thomas Vennum, Jr.

Honor the Earth Powwow: Songs of the Great Lakes Indians

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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson

When Mickey Hart's name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the drummer's years with the Grateful Dead. But in fact, Hart has done a lot of worthwhile things outside of the Dead, including some world music projects. Produced by Hart in 1990, Honor the Earth Powwow: Songs of the Great Lakes Indians is one of his crowning achievements. This CD, which Hart produced, documents a Native American powwow in a rural area of northern Wisconsin. For the uninitiated, a powwow is a traditional musical/spiritual ceremony by Native Americans; the powwow heard on this disc celebrates nature, God, and Native American culture. Chanting passionately, various groups of Native American performers (including the Bad River Singers, the Little Otter Singers, the Winnebago Sons, and the Smokey Town Singers) are accompanied only by drums. Some traditional Native American music uses wooden flutes extensively and is hauntingly melodic; the performances on Honor the Earth Powwow, however, are raw, percussive, and highly exuberant. Those who have listened to a variety of world music will see the parallels between this Native American powwow and similar ceremonies in other cultures. The use of repetitive chanting in spiritual ceremonies is not limited to Native American culture -- chanting over drums is a practice that one finds in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East as well as in South America and the Caribbean. It is a part of Hindu culture in India; it is used in the Afro-Bahian culture of Brazil and the Afro-Cuban culture of Cuba. Hart has every reason to be proud of this excellent CD.

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