By Edie Schmierbach
---- — MANKATO — Blues Traveler is on the road celebrating its silver anniversary of making music and Indigenous will join in the party when the two bands perform an open-air concert near the bend in the Minnesota River.
Both blues groups have been touring this summer — Blues Traveler with Big Head Todd, Barenaked Ladies and Cracker for shows planned through November. Indigenous is promoting a new album, “Vanishing Americans,” released earlier this month.
Best known for the singles "Run-Around" and "Hook," Blues Traveler has its roots in New Jersey. The band takes all kinds of rock — psychedelic, folk and Southern — along with the blues and soul music, and blends them into a style of its own. Blues Traveler's latest album "Suzie Cracks the Whip," released last June, is the group's first full-length since "North Hollywood Shootout" in 2008. On the group's webpage, frontman John Popper described "Suzie" as unlike previous albums in that it features quite a bit of input from outside songwriters.
"I don't think there's any song you get bored with, or a bunch of the same kind of tune. We're really pleased with how it turned out. After 25 years of being a band, this is a really great high watermark," Popper wrote.
Indigenous has shared the stage with various artists including B.B. King, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, the Indigo Girls, Jackson Browne, Dave Matthews Band and Los Lonely Boys.
The American blues-rock group came to prominence in the late 1990s. The band originally consisted of two brothers, Mato Nanji, performing vocals and guitar and, Pte, on bass guitar, along with their sister, Wanbdi, on drums, and their cousin, Horse, on percussion.
The Nakota Nation members grew up on South Dakota's Yankton Indian Reservation, where their father, Greg Zephier became a spokesperson for Native American rights. A musician in his own right during the 1960-70s, Zephier introduced his children to blues music and taught them to play their respective instruments.
In 1999, Indigenous won three top Native American Music Awards for its debut record. The track "Now That You're Gone" peaked at No. 22 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, making Indigenous one of the first Native American bands to break into that realm.
"Vanishing Americans" takes much of its lead from Zephier, who died in 1998. He was a well-known spiritual advisor and spokesperson for the International Indian Treaty Council, a United Nations organization based in New York City.
“My dad was my biggest influence,” Nanji said in an interview with Native Sun News. “He pointed me in the right direction, and I am honored to have had that kind of father.” Reflecting on his father’s activist and musical influence, Nanji said, “I grew up listening to rhythm and blues and now I try to mix it all into one.”
If you go What Blues Traveler with special guest Indigenous When 7 p.m. Saturday at Vetter Stone Amphitheater, Riverfront Park in Mankato. Gates open 6 p.m. Tickets $25 at gate; advance $20. Tickets can be purchased at the Verizon Wireless Center ticket office 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and at Ticketmaster locations. Charge by phone at 800-745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.