Mato Nanji, the longtime leader of the South Dakota-based Indigenous, is a Native American artist who was born to play the blues. In the original Indigenous lineup, Mato was joined by his brother Pte on bass and their sister Wanbdi on drums and vocals, along with their cousin Horse on percussion. All three siblings had grown up surrounded by music, thanks to their parents, who listened to everything from B.B. King and Buddy Guy to Santana and the Eagles. When they'd shown an aptitude for music, their parents showed them the ropes, and when they'd honed their chops on their respective instruments, the kids formed the group. As Mato recalled, "My father said, 'Somebody has to step up and sing - you can't be an instrumental band.' So I said I'd give it a shot, and that's where it started."
Indigenous recorded five full-length albums and a pair of EPs together before deciding to take separate musical paths. Having fronted the group as well as writing most of the material, Mato retained the Indigenous name and recorded the albums Chasing The Sun (2006), Broken Lands (2008), and The Acoustic Sessions (2010). "I just felt it was the right thing to keep the Indigenous name going," Mato explains. The guitarist has certainly done more than keep the band going. His latest release, Indigenous - Featuring Mato Nanji (2012), stretches the guitarist's already established musicianship into a hard-hitting, guitar-driven package of musical excursions and playful songwriting. Joining Mato on the opening song is the soulful Jonny Lang. "Free Yourself, Free Your Mind" is a hook laden track providing the groundwork for two true guitar masters to jam it out without borders or fences. Indeed, the whole album is a tour de force in blues rock and points the way to exciting things to come for Indigenous.
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