Update: Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros are nominated for "Best World Music" for their new album "Hostiles & Indians" by the Native American Music Awards. Gary Small has also been nominated as native "Artist of the Year"!!!
Gary Small is an accomplished guitarist and vocalist, raised in the wilds of Montana and Wyoming. Small is a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe whose reservation resides in remote Southeast Montana to the east of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. Small takes great pride in his heritage and talks of his roots proudly and with confidence.
For 15 years Small led the Portland Oregon based group The Gary Small Band, a roots rock group of outstanding musicians whose percussion section members include Graham Lear, former drummer of Santana, and former Joe Cocker percussionist, Bobby Torres. Small led this all-star group through myriad music styles of afro-cuban, reggae, roots rock, and blues. One music critic summed it up:
"...Small's guitar playing so reminiscent of Carlos Santana it's stunning. In fact it wouldn't be unfair to say Small could become the Santana of Native American music-translating his history through myriad musical forms in a way that speaks on several levels."
John Graham, Willamette Week, July 18th, 2001
Small won national acclaim as a solo artist with the release of his third cd release entitled "Wild Indians". Released in July of 2001, "Wild Indians" won the prestigious Nammy "Songwriter of the Year" award and was nominated for : "Best Male Performer", and "Best Blues/Jazz Recording" by the 2002 Native American Music Association.
Small was featured on the Oregon Public Broadcast Television show, Oregon Art Beat. He was also featured in Native Peoples Magazine. Small has appeared on the concert stage with other Native American performers such as, Rita Coolidge (Walela), Indigenous, Chrystal Gale, Native Roots, and Keith Secola. Small has previously garnered a nomination from the Native American Music Awards Show "Best Blues/Jazz Recording" for his 2000 blues release "Cheyenne Blue Revisited".
Small relocated to his "stomping grounds of Sheridan, WY in 2005 and formed the versatile musical group, Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros. Their first CD "Blues from the Coyote" (2005) a rocking rhythm and blues extravaganza, was awarded three Nammy nominations for Best Blues and Jazz Recording, Best Male Performer, and Songwriter of the Year. At the 2006 Nammy Awards show Small was selected to perform the guitar works of the late great rock & roll guitar legend, Link Wray. Small performed the medley with Wray's grandson, Chris Webb. Bruce Springstein, guitarist, Little Steven (who presented the Hall of Fame induction to Wray) commented with a smile "Man those guys just kicked those tunes right in the ass, great job."
Small's release "Crazy Woman Mountain" recently won the 2007 Nammy Awards "Best Rock Recording of the Year".
The Coyote's performed at the Awards show to a packed auditorium in Niagara Falls, NY just moments after winning the Award.
A sonic departure from the funky, bluesy style of Blues from the Coyote. This cd rocks in a vintage styled, at times surfy sounding, big guitar, wall of sound. If you need to pigeon hole the style, it's a cross between the classic sound of Brian Setzer and the more rambuncious rock grind of George Thoroughgood. Small's recordings keep gaining more and more recognition with each release.
In 2011, the Coyote' train just keeps moving with Gary Small receiving the Native American Music Awards "Male Artist of the Year" award. This time for their rockabilly/surf release "Wyoming (For Dummies).
2012 has brought the new Native American release, Hostiles & Renegades. A remarkable album that shows Small's Native American perspective of his Northern Cheyenne Tribe and Native people all over the world with a stunning display of his guitar work. This album will definitely catch some attention this year.
Small certainly shows no sign that his musical career will ever slow down at present. Follow this guys career, and keep this guy on your radar screen, you'll be glad you did. John Begay, Columnist.
Gary Small - Guitarist and Vocalist
Jim Willey - Percussionist
Jobe Jennings - Bass Guitar & Vocals
Jimmy Lange - keyboards
Fred Serna - Percussion
Greg Livingston - Harmonica
Melissa Butcher - Backing Vocals
New for 2012, Smalls sequal Native Americana' album, Hostiles & Renegades. Former Santana drummer, Graham Lear and former Joe Cocker backing vocalist, Pamela Polland join Small on this Bob Marley meets Carlos Santana world beat journey through the Native American perspective.
Update: Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros are nominated for "Best World Music" for their new album "Hostiles & Indians" by the Native American Music Awards. Gary Small has also been nominated as native "Artist of the Year"!!!
Wild Indians (Small's Native American Album, Winner of the "Songwriter of the Year" Award. Native American Music Awards.
Crazy Woman Mountain (a stripped down, rock cd that covers rockabilly, to cajun to surf. This CD took "Rock Album of the Year" 2007, Native American Music Awards www.nammys.com)
I Don't Play By the Rules (Small's recent release, it's got the blues, the swamp, the cajun. The Colorado Blues Society gave the album rave reviews in its monthly magazine)
Wyoming (For Dummies) new for 2011. A six song EP of rockabilly/surf songs about the big quirky state of Wyoming as seen through the eyes of the Coyote Bros.
Check out their website for more detail at www.coyotebros.net. There are various publications out there regarding Gary Small & the Coyote Bros. Do a quick google search and enjoy:
01 - Hostiles & Renegades - Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros Sample
02 - Reservation Town - Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros Sample
04 - All For You - Gary Small & the Coyote' Bros
Wyoming NPR, Artist Profile-Gary Small
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Sheridan based, Nammy award-winning musician Gary Small has released a new record called "Hostiles ...Sheridan based, Nammy award-winning musician Gary Small has released a new record called "Hostiles and Renegades." Anna Rader produced this profile.
TGP Webzine CD Reviews: Gary Small, Hostiles & Renegades
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Gary Small and his band, The Coyote Brothers, have been around for a number of years and have built ...Gary Small and his band, The Coyote Brothers, have been around for a number of years and have built the kind of following that comes with hard work, lots of gigging and a sound that appeals to people. Hailing from Wyoming, Gary is proud of his heritage as a member of the Cheyenne tribe and his appeal goes far beyond his many Native-American fans. He is a three time winner of a NAMMY (Native American Music Association awards), including the 2011 Male Artist award, 2007 as Best Rock Recording and 2002 as Songwriter of the Year, all well-deserved!
His latest CD, Hostiles & Renegades, presents both a step forward and a return to roots for Gary. His guitar playing is again set off by his vocal presence in the music, which has a reggae beat that reminds me of the years I spent in the New Orleans music scene......part Caribbean, but with a New Orleans-styled pace that gets your feet tapping. Yes, there is the similarity in guitar style at times to Carlos Santana that is unmistakable, but this is no surprise to anyone who has followed Gary's career. After all, his first CD included ex-Santana drummer, Graham Lear. There are no apologies here for any similarities. Gary is his own man and marches to his own passionate drumbeat.
The Coyote Brothers, also Native-Americans, are a talented group who give solid performances on their respective instruments. The "Brothers" are a great match for Gary's frontman status, giving backbone and life to his original compositions. The band is a showcase for keeping the groove fresh and allowing Gary a foundation that is both intricate at time and intense when the song calls for same.
Gary is a talented guitar player who feels no need to shred in order to make his presence known. Licks are tasteful and move to the foreground of his songs, presenting a perfect offset to his vocals. You're not going to hear a Sinatra vocal here. Gary's voice is distinctly different enough to defy plugging it into any particular genre. There is no copycat in his singing. Rather it is his own distinctive style that allows you to sit back and actually listen to the lyrics. Winning the Nammy for Best Songwriter was no fluke. This artist treasures his roots and culture in his music and the listener, especially anyone who has an understanding of life as a Native-American, quickly realizes that one does not have to play three chord progressions to capture the spirit of what developed into the blues. The songs are about real life, often spun with humor, and focus on the trials and tribulations of his culture.
Gary Small's New Album Shows Band At Best!!!
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By SCOTT PRINZING - For The Outpost After a few albums that veered a bit more toward his rockabilly...By SCOTT PRINZING - For The Outpost
After a few albums that veered a bit more toward his rockabilly side, Gary Small’s latest effort, “Hostiles & Renegades,” takes us back to the sound of his debut, and with great results. That album, 2002’s “Wild Indians,” was a blend of vocal and instrumental; Latin and reggae; and strong songwriting.
That songwriting was good enough to earn Small his first of three NAMMYS, the Native American Music Association’s annual awards. In 2007 he was awarded Best Rock Recording for the Coyote Bros. album, “Crazy Woman Mountain,” with its surf guitar sound.
Although that album celebrated the retro vintage rock of the ’50s and ’60s, he is currently riding the crest of the wave for his 2011 Male Artist NAMMY. Not bad for a Northern Cheyenne kid who grew up in Kirby and Sheridan, Wyo.
The nine original tracks on his latest release were produced by Small in Sheridan at Crazy Moon Recording. This makes five albums with the Coyote Bros.; his debut was as the Gary Small Band.
Once again, Small is accompanied by the Coyote Bros., an all-native group of talented musicians who have backed him for his past four releases. Bassist Jobe Jennings sounds as energetic and creative as he is to watch play on stage. Drummer Jim Willey is as solid as a band could hope for. A variety of musical friends appear on a few songs as well.
Overall, the effect is a great representation of one of the region’s top live bands sounding as good as ever. Many bands have a challenge recreating the vibrancy of their live performances in the studio; Small and the Coyote Bros. do not have that problem. This album is one that you will want to listen to repeatedly for the quality of both the playing and the material.
One listen and there will be no doubt whether NAMMYS were flukes or not. This won’t be the first review to make comparisons between Small’s playing and that of Carlos Santana. That’s not to say that Small is an imitator; he brings his own artistry to whatever style of music he’s performing. It just so happens that some of the music he plays – both here and in live performance – has a Latin rhythm. (He even had former Santana drummer Graham Lear play on his entire debut!)
Some of it is also based in a reggae beat. But that doesn’t sound like Bob Marley; Small has a vocal style that’s distinct from either of those artists and leaves his own stamp on anything he plays.
But even though he’s been recognized for his songwriting, it’s really his guitar playing that shines the brightest. So it’s no wonder that this album includes a few instrumental pieces.
Don’t miss an opportunity to catch Gary Small and the Coyote Bros. next time they play in Billings. Check their schedule at www.Coyotebros.net. In the meantime, pick up a copy of this and any of his albums through his page at CDBaby.com. You won’t be disappointed.
Music CD Reviews: Gary Small & the Coyote Bros. "I Don't Play By the Rules"
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Having captured the 2007 Nammy award for Best Rock Recording, Northern Cheyenne tribal member Gary S...Having captured the 2007 Nammy award for Best Rock Recording, Northern Cheyenne tribal member Gary Small has proven that he is one smoldering guitar player. Raised in the wilds of Montana and Wyoming, Small is a chip off the George Thorogood or Brian Setzer block, but he's his own rockabilly bluesman.
Small and fellow Coyote Bros. percussionist Jim Willey and bassist Jobe Jennings have made one "whiskey drinkin' renegade" of an album with I Don't Play by the Rules. Full of high-octane swagger, the album throws in a sax riff here, some Cajun seasoning there, along with the occasional Santana-like interlude. "Low Down Evil Ways" is Beale Street-saturated dirty blues. "Stay Away from My Dog," "My Baby Snubbed Me," and the stinging "Buck Shot Bette" kick down the doors with turbo-charged blues licks.
On their previous release, the Nammy Award-winning Crazy Mountain Woman, Small and the boys forged a George Thorogood-meets-Gimme Shelter-era-Rolling Stones sound that somehow manages to remain true to their Native American roots. Jam-packed with real music for classic rock-and-roll lovers — "Jake the Bull Snake," "Camilla Tequilla," and the humorous "Carlos Can't Surf" are just a few — this is retro-rocking rhythm and blues. Together, these two records prove that Small and the Coyote Bros. are to Native American music what ZZ Top is to Texas blues — a rough-and-tumble treasure.
Gary Small & the Coyote Bros Take Home Another Nammy Award
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Gary Small and The Coyote Brothers have come back from New York with another Nammy Award. The Nammy ...Gary Small and The Coyote Brothers have come back from New York with another Nammy Award. The Nammy is the Native American equivalent to the Grammy’s. History had once again repeated itself for the band at last Friday evening's Native American Music Awards.
Small took home the best Male Artist award. He was also nominated for Best Rock Recording. Small says the Nammys offer artists like him a chance to really appreciate their work…
Small says living in a small town makes it harder to be noticed…
"It takes three planes and a couple thousand dollars to make it out to [the Seneca Niagara Hotel and Casino in Niagara Falls] New York, where the show is held," says Small, "Being both Native American, and a professional musician, I think its a very important award. I don't think Native American musicians would be where they are without this organization."
He adds that he is always looking forward to his next show, and continues to have nothing but praise for the Native American Music Awards. Read the previous story about the nomination here!
Sheridan-based rock group wins Nammy Award
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Sheridan-based rock group wins Nammy Award Gary Small & the Coyote Bros. of Sheridan won a Nati...
Sheridan-based rock group wins Nammy Award
Gary Small & the Coyote Bros. of Sheridan won a Native American Music Award last week, the band’s second.
Band leader Small won Best Male Artist at the 13th annual awards, which took place Oct. 7 at the Seneca Niagara Falls Hotel and Casino in Niagara Falls, N.Y. The band also was nominated in the Best Rock Recording category.
“I’m glad I took Best Male Artist over Best Rock Recording as I’ve never had a nomination in that category and it’s certainly an oddity to be a best male anything,” Small said in a release.
The Native American Music Awards and Association recognizes initiatives in traditional and contemporary Native American music and is the largest professional membership-based organization of its kind in the world, according to the release.
The Coyote Bros. and guest musicians who contributed to the recording are: Jim Willey (percussion), Jobe Jennings (bass), Greg Livingston (harmonica) and Tom Lulias (pedal steel), all of Sheridan and Buffalo.
The band won its first Nammy Award in 2007 for Best Rock Recording, “Crazy Woman Mountain.” Small also won Songwriter of the Year in 2002 for his solo debut recording, “Wild Indians.”
Read more: http://trib.com/weekender/music/sheridan-based-rock-group-wins-nammy-award/article_ef51af9b-435c-522f-a959-e7561fc9ef84.html#ixzz1bCNGaK6H
Gary Small and Coyote Brothers win Nammy
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Sheridan, Wyo., rock group Gary Small & the Coyote Bros, won a second Native American Music Award....
Sheridan, Wyo., rock group Gary Small & the Coyote Bros, won a second Native American Music Award.
The group won their first Nammy Award in 2007 for their release, “Crazy Woman Mountain,” taking home the “Best Rock Recording” award. On Oct. 7, Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers received their second award at the 13th Annual Native American Music Awards show, held at the Seneca Niagara Falls Hotel and Casino in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
?Small won for Best Male Artist. The Coyote Brothers and guest musicians who contributed to the recording are: Jim Willey (percussion), Jobe Jennings (bass) and Greg Livingston (Harmonica), Tom Lulias (pedal steel) all of Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyo.
The Native American Music Awards & Association is the world’s largest professional membership-based organization committed to honoring contemporary and traditional Native American music initiatives.
Small also won “Songwriter of the Year” in 2002 for his solo debut recording “Wild Indians.”
Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/entertainment/music/article_e6021cf8-f467-5694-9c77-3300ac23f9bb.html#ixzz1d2MeFz3d
New CD from Gary Small & the Coyote Brothers: "Wyoming (For Dummies)"
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Grady Kirkpatrick playing latest CD by Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers today on Wyoming Public Ra...Grady Kirkpatrick playing latest CD by Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers today on Wyoming Public Radio's "Morning Music." Selection was "Snaggle-Tooth Jackalope." Here's info from the Coyote Bros web site: "We've just released 'Wyoming (for Dummies).' An EP with 6 crazy rockabilly and surf songs about our quirky culture in Wonderful Wyoming. If you've ever worked in the Park, or been to Yellowstone, ya' better get this one."
Trucks, Tedeschi, Franti lead blues fest lineup
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Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band and Michael Franti and Spearhead are headlining the Magic City ...Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band and Michael Franti and Spearhead are headlining the Magic City Blues Festival Aug. 13 and 14 in downtown Billings.
Promoter Tim Goodridge has also added some local bands to this year’s lineup, including the S.O.B.s, which plays the Stillwater Stage both nights, and Funk In The Trunk, which will play the Main Stage on Friday night.
Now in its ninth year, Magic City Blues attracts blues fans from across the country who have been treated to shows by Buddy Guy, George Thorogood, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Michelle Shocked.
This year, Maria Muldaur will perform at the Magic City Blues Festival on Friday night and at St. John’s Lutheran Home on Thursday, Aug. 12 in a free preview concert on the lawn. Trucks and Tedeschi perform Friday night, and Franti and Spearhead headline Saturday night. Also on the bill for Friday night are The Soul of John Black on the main stage and Gary Small and The Coyote Brothers on the Stillwater Stage. On Saturday, the main stage will feature the Randy Oxford Band and Indigenous, and the Stillwater Stage will host Ben Prestage and Sonny Landreth.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. both nights and the music starts at 6 p.m. You must be 21 to enter. No coolers, chairs or carry-ins are permitted. Chairs are provided, and full concessions are available on-site. The festival will occupy the 2300 to 2500 blocks of Montana Avenue with the Main Stage in front of The Billings Depot facing west and the Stillwater Stage at the McCormick Cafe.
Tickets go on sale Friday, May 14. There are three ways to get tickets: online at www.magiccityblues.com; by phone at 670-2329; or at Billings Holiday stores, Rimrock Mall or Cactus Records in Bozeman. Ticket prices are $40 per night if purchased in advance individually or $45 per night at the gate. A $75 ticket for both nights can be purchased in advance only. Reserved tables are available by calling 670-2329.
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band is one of the most formidable husband/wife teams in the history of southern rock and blues music.
Trucks’ slide guitar playing is top notch. He has led his own The Derek Trucks Band for over 15 years, has been the slide guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band for more than 10 years, and toured the world with Eric Clapton. Trucks’ sixth studio album release (“Already Free”) debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, and he is the youngest musician to date to make Rolling Stones list of “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.”
Tedeschi has risen in the blues ranks, with multiple Grammy Award nominations. Her powerful singing voice and fearless stage presence have made her one of the most stirring soul and blues musicians of our time.
Michael Franti is the creator and lead singer of Michael Franti and Spearhead. Franti, who recently completed a tour with John Mayer, has long been known for his electrifying live show. His latest CD release, “All Rebel Rockers,” was the highest debut album chart position of his career, and his multi-format hit, “Say Hey (I Love You),” is the most commercially successful song of his career. The song’s video garnered nearly 5 million YouTube views.
Franti has become a modern-day troubadour spreading the word with equal passion, whether he’s playing to a packed theater somewhere in America, Australia or Europe, or simply giving an impromptu performance in some war-torn corner of the world.
“I wear the troubadour badge with great pride,” Franti explains. “I love playing music in the street more than anywhere else. It’s still a lot of fun to get on a big stage, but the rest of the time, when you just play for people anywhere you can, it’s like playing a pick up basketball game and I love that, too. I love the intimacy of it, playing without all the bells and whistles.”
Through Franti’s appreciation of Bob Marley, he got turned on to bands that had a reggae influence, like the Police and, especially, the Clash.
Link Wray Tribute – May 9, 2009
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Induct Link Wray is proud to present a tribute to the legend, Link Wray. Join us May 9th at the Beac...Induct Link Wray is proud to present a tribute to the legend, Link Wray. Join us May 9th at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Oh to celebrate the life and music of Link. The show takes place just one week after what would have been Link’s 80th birthday. Many special guests will be present as well as a star studded musical lineup.
Webb Wilder will be performing just weeks after the April release of his newest CD “More Like Me.” He will be
photo credit: david mclister
performing his own take on roots rock and hopefully many of his hits. Also, I anticipate the performance of many songs off of his latest release. Arrive early or else as Webb’s credo states ” Wear glasses if you need ‘em.”
Link Wray’s Raymen will be performing Link’s music to absolute precision as well as some of their own material. The Raymen are made up entirely of musicians that played with Link. Guitarist, John Van Horn, son of legendary Rayman Jack Van Horn was taught his chops by Link. Bassist Ed Cynar dares us all to close our eyes and tell if we can hear a difference on the guitar between Link and John. That is quite a statement coming from someone who played and recorded with Link. On drums will be Pat Greenwood who had played with Link in the 70s. I am very excited to see Link Wray’s Raymen in their first ever Cleveland performance.
The Stuck in Gear tribute band featuring Link Wray’s own grandson Chris Webb will play. Gary Small of The Coyote Bros. who is a winner of multiple NAMMYS will be joining Chris as well as Jason Kay on drums. Many of you may have seen them perform at the Native American Music Awards honoring the legendary Link Wray or at a previous tribute. If not don’t miss this opportunity. Chris also plays with his own band Southern Attitude and they are based in the Portsmouth, Va area and plays regularly there. They will be performing in Cleveland for the first time.
Chicago’s only Link Wray tribute band, Wraygun will enlighten us with a variety of instrumental surf as well as the
music of Link. I have seen musician Phil Tiki with another of his bands The Cocktail Preachers and was thoroughly impressed. To say I am in high anticipation of seeing Wraygun is an understatement.
Opening the event will be Cleveland’s own The Topcats. They will be performing much of the greatest rock of the 50s and 60s. Bassist Jon Paulus has promised they will get the show rockin’. I’m looking forward to their first ever performance at the Beachland.
The event promises the greatest performances of Link’s music by anyone besides himself. For anyone who had not seen Link in person this may be a great way to experience his musical legacy first hand. It is also my hope that by having this concert in Cleveland that the rock hall will take notice of their greatest omission. Come join us in a celebration of Link Wray. I hope to see you all at the Beachland on May 9th.
For information on the show and to purchase tickets visit http://www.beachlandballroom.com
Visit the websites of the tribute’s performers: Webb Wilder , Link Wray’s Raymen , Gary Small , Wraygun & The Topcats
Sign the Induct Link Wray online petition and help us get Link inducted into the rock hall!
Back in Wyoming, Small Still Finds Top Musicians
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Gary Small’s voracious appetite for music began at a very young age. He remembers playing his toy xy...Gary Small’s voracious appetite for music began at a very young age. He remembers playing his toy xylophone along with the theme songs of Bugs Bunny and The Flintstones and making impromptu drum sets out of household items.
In grade school he learned to play the violin, viola and eventually upright bass, which got him started in the blues. Guitar came next “out of necessity.” In other words, “music has always been first and foremost to me,” said Small in a recent interview.
However, Small’s real story starts out in his dorm room around his freshman year of college.
“I’ve really loved Santana from a very young age. I really loved the Latin-rock thing because the rhythm was so different. I remember when I was probably a freshman in college learning all these Santana licks in my dorm room and saying to myself, ‘I don’t know why I’m learning this music. I’m never going to find a drummer that is that good.’”
Well, long story short, Small headed to Portland to be a part of its tremendous blues scene. (Portland’s blues festival is the largest in the United States, larger than the Chicago Blues Festival.) It was there he met and recruited to his then current band for seven years that very drummer he had been listening to all along, Graham Lear, drummer for Santana for 12 years.
He also recruited Joe Cocker’s old conga player for many years, Bobby Torres, who performed with Cocker at Woodstock.
“So I definitely got my wish, so to speak, and I’ve got to play with some real heavyweight guys,” said Small. “I don’t want to say the reason these guys came in is because I’m the best guitar player in the world kind of bullshit. But I think they came in because I had a direction, I had focus. And at that time, I was working heavily on an album called ‘Wild Indians.’”
“Wild Indians” was Small’s third CD, released in 2001, and earned him national acclaim as a solo artist, as it won the prestigious Native American Music Award for Songwriter of the Year and was nominated for Best Male Performer and Best Blues/Jazz Recording.
Sometime after that, Small returned to his hometown of Sheridan to care for his ailing father. His saving grace in that dismal situation, Small said, was he met the best bass player and drummer in a couple of hundred miles and formed his current band, Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers.
Together for five years now, the Coyote Bros perform a wide range of styles, everything from rockabilly and R&B to surf, reggae, blues, rock, Americana and more.
“We jokingly say we are Wyoming’s answer to ZZ Top,” said Small.
In the band’s second appearance in Billings since performing at this year’s Magic City Blues Festival, Gary Small and the Coyote Bros will jam at The Garage Pub this Saturday. As always, doors open at 4 p.m.
Gary Small "Living Life To It's Fullest"
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Gary Small is certainly one of the more talented and creative Bluesmen on the local scene today! He...Gary Small is certainly one of the more talented and creative Bluesmen on the local scene today! He is a veteran musician that can sing, play and write music with a passion and punch that makes one sit up and take notice. He plays Blues and Blues-related material, sometimes "out of the box", leaving himself and his audience room to breathe. He has recently finished his new CD titled. "Wild Indians", in which he gives tribute to his Indian culture and ancestry.
People in the area have known him for years as the Reverend Gary Small playing his brand of Blues with his band, Rev. Gary Small ... The Deacons. The group was nominated back in 1992 for a CBA "Muddy Award" for "Best New Act". Prior to coming to Portland, Gary played in a group in Montana through the '80s, called The Highlite Blues Band. They toured all over the area, going out on the road for sometimes 60 to 70 day stints. It was there, in Montana, he honed his skills as a professional musician. At the time, there was a lot of fervor in the national media concerning evangelical preachers. The Reverend Jim Baker was in the news for his exploits and there were several other tele-evangelists who were getting into hot water at the same time. Gary couldn't leave that alone, so he did his own rendition of a fire and brimstone preacher on stage for some additional entertainment for the captive audiences. So, low and behold, he acquired the nickname, The Reverend Gary Small, and it stuck!
Gary grew up between Sheridan, Wyoming and Kirby Montana, just south of the North Cheyenne Indian Reservation. He started playing music when he was 12 and began playing professionally when he was 14. He played bass at first, but switched to guitar when he was 17, basically because there were really no guitar players around of comparable quality. He decided to take up the guitar so he could form a band. He learned to sing for the very same reason. Gary states, "I really never was a good singer to begin with. They wouldn't even let me into the grade school choir, I was so bad. But, here I am today, a singer and guitarist. Things change!"
Gary is Northern Cheyenne and Lakota. His dad was Indian, however, he really didn't know much about his mother's side of the family, because he wasn't around them very much during his childhood. Gary speaks highly of his father, who is now 86 years old. His dad was always an athletic man, a sprint champion in his younger years, and a wounded veteran of WWII. Gary says "He's had a tough life. but he is a tough man who has always done a world of good for me. He has really raised me well!" Neither of Gary's parents were musically inclined, but they fortunately allowed young Gary to pursue music. His mom bought him his first bass guitar when he was about 12 years old, thinking it would keep him out of trouble. And, Gary says, "for the most part, it did."
Gary relates, "I've always had an infinity for music. I think the most dramatic moment for me was when I was about three or four years old and I heard my first native drum group and that wail and cry of the singers. At that age, it scares the hell out of you. It had a lasting impression on me. I think that if you listen to traditional Indian singers and compare that to the way a Blues singer would phrase his words, you can honestly say it's almost the same thing. So, as I matured, I really felt that connection of traditional Indian music and its relationship to Blues. It's that human quality, that human factor. That sound, with its heavy drums, has always been in my repertoire from the beginning. To this day, my band has consisted of at least two drummers; a drummer and a percussionist"
In 1990, Gary decided to take a giant leap moving from a small community in Montana to the big city of Portland. He decided to keep his nickname and formed a band known as Reverend Gary Small ... The Deacons. He was really heavy into the Blues when he arrived in town and he didn't want to play anything but the Blues. It was kind of a cultural shock moving to the big city from a remote rural area. He purposely picked Portland because it was the smallest of all the major cities around the area. He thought it would be a good place to start.
When he got here he was really amazed at how many Blues bands started and crumbled in such a short period of time. They would fold and reform into another band and the cycle would continue over again. There was tremendous competition for the club gigs too. Gary explains, "I knew I had to keep myself different than everyone else. I had to have my own signature sound and my own thing. So, that's when I started bringing the percussionist into the group. However, you'll never get the Blues playing out of me. That'll never go away. The first thing 1 learned to play on guitar was B.B. King songs. And, once you start playing that stuff, I don't think you can really ever get it out of what you play. I don't care if you hear me playing a Blues song, a Roots-Rock song, a Reggae tune, or whatever, you're going to hear B.B. King coming out of my playing at times."
Gary continues to refine his band. He believes one of the things his current band does well is to flow back and forth from Roots-Reggae music to Blues. He thinks they do it gracefully and with a little bit of style and maturity. He says it has always been their strong point.
The first major percussionist Gary had in the band was Bobby Torres. Bobby is a legend here in Portland, but Bobby branched off into other projects he was working on. He suggested to Gary that with the type of music he was doing, sometimes crossing the Blues line, he needed a top-notch percussionist. He suggested that Gary get in touch with drummer, Graham Lear, who lived here in town. Lear spent 12 years as the drummer for the legendary Rock group, Santana and is a premier percussionist. Gary got in touch with Graham and they hit it off. He was a perfect fit for the kind of music Gary's band was doing these days. Graham is also the drummer for the well-known lounge star, Paul Anka, and plays with Gary when he is not committed to gigs with Paul. Graham is on Gary's recordings and they have grown into great friends over time. Gary says that he has learned a wealth of things from Graham.
Gary continues, "In addition to Graham, we have a great drummer, Ward Griffiths. I'm so lucky to have caught her when I did, because I've had countless drummers through this band and Ward is the only one who can handle the multitude of styles we play. We are very dependent on our drummers in this band. If we don't have a topnotch drummer we wobble. Our songs are so based on rhythm, that if we don't have that pulse going, we don't sound right.
We have Caton Lyles who is our conga player and he is a phenomenal percussionist. He has that African style of playing; spirited and bombastic. He fits in just right.
We just recently added a new bass player, Toby Worthington. Toby's been a local fixture around Portland forever. Our music is not something you can just jump into. It takes talent and practice. He is doin' a great job.
On keyboards we have Ron Solomon. We looked for a keyboardist for a long time and finally found a guy who plays with a style that I really envisioned for the band; the Hammond B-3 sound and a good acoustic piano sound. Ron plays the Hammond XK2 with a Leslie. It's so close to the traditional B-3 sound - It sounds great. We added a second guitarist to the band, Art Viloria. With the new music it frees me up to concentrate on singing. Art used to be with the Hudson Rocket Band. He's one of those easy going guys, very happy playing rhythm guitar. He doesn't need the spotlight on him, doin' all the tricks and such. He is a consummate musician."
Last year Gary changed the name of the band to simply, The Gary Small Band. His thinking was that it would be better received as he branched outside the Blues focusing on writing and performing his contemporary Indian songs. That is what his latest recording, "Wild Indians", is all about. Gary calls it Native American motif. It is very bluesy in spots, but has a prevalent Roots-Reggae feel throughout.
In 1998, Gary released his first recording, "Cheyenne Blue", which I reviewed in the BluesNotes in November of that year. In that review I said, "Small has a tasty vocal styling that is well suited for performing the Blues. He kinda sounds like a cross between Rick Estrin (Little Charlie ... The Nightcats) and Chris Cain and that's good company indeed! Both his vocals and guitar mastery are captivating. When you couple that with the well-written material on "Cheyenne Blue", you've got a fine effort from top to bottom."
Well, last year Gary re-recorded his guitar parts and vocals and re-released the effort as "Cheyenne Blue Revisited." And, as we reported last month, The Gary Small Band garnered a prestigious nomination from the Native American Music Association (NAMA) for "Best Blues Recording." Gary has gotten involved with NAMA over the last year, and they have supported him.
Gary went to New York for a benefit concert last year, and this month, they are having the band back again to perform at a benefit for the American Indian College Fund.
Being able to branch out by doing the Native American music, as well as the Blues, has opened up a whole other channel for the band. They are doing Native American-sponsored gigs, as well as playing in the Blues clubs. Gary finds that it makes him feel good to be in Native American circles in this capacity. This past summer, he and the band played the Jammin' For Salmon Concert at Waterfront Park, doing Roots-Rock, Native American music, while just a couple of weeks prior to that, on basically the same stage, they were playin' the Blues at The Waterfront Blues Festival. Gary is very proud the band can do that effectively.
The band played in October in Billings, Montana for the National Indian Education Association. Gary is a huge proponent of education for Indian people. Gary imparts, "It's so great that we have these tribal colleges on the Reservations now! There are many colleges involve in extension courses. I think there are 22 colleges involved and a good portion of them are in Montana:"
Gary is a very intelligent, interesting and knowledgeable person who takes his music very seriously. He enjoys entertaining and it shows in his performances. He seems to have the best of both worlds, playing the Blues he loves and singing and relating his personal thoughts and impressions about being a proud Native American. Gary Small is living life to its fullest and it can't get much better than that!
For more information on Gary Small or how to obtain his CDs, go to www.garysmallband.com or for more information regarding the Native American Music Association, go to www.nammys.com.
Sheridan, Wyo.-based musician beams with sense of fun
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Rodeo ran deep in the Small clan, but young Gary preferred upending garbage cans to make drum sets. ...Rodeo ran deep in the Small clan, but young Gary preferred upending garbage cans to make drum sets.
Later, when his cousins and uncles in Kirby and Sheridan, Wyo., were winning belt buckles, Gary was playing gigs at the American Legion Club. Almost four decades have passed since those days when 14-year-old Small worked two jobs to keep himself in guitars.
“I’d stay up and watch Johnny Carson to see the music. The guy I always wanted to see was B.B. King, the way he over-emphasized the vibrato with his left hand. Here I was at 14, playing with organist Bud Benth, who introduced me to the jazz side of things.”
The thousand or so fans who watched his touring band, Gary Small and the Coyote Brothers, tear it up on the Stillwater Stage at Magic City Blues in August, can attest to the polish Small brings to his live shows. Small, who serves as band leader, singer/songwriter and guitarist, is performing Saturday night at Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co.’s Garage Pub with his scaled-back trio.
“I feel that the bar musically is very high. We’re very tight, very rehearsed.”
Small prides himself in the fact that his trio is made up exclusively of Native American musicians. Small, his bass player Jobe Jennings, and percussionist Jim Willey are all Northern Cheyenne.
“It’s hard to get three good musicians together, let alone three Indians who can play. Then, try to find musicians that like the music I like.”
Small and the Coyote Brothers won Best Rock Album in 2007 from the Native American Music Awards for “Crazy Woman Mountain’’ and his 2001 “Wild Indians” CD won him the 2002 Songwriter of the Year award from NAMA.
“We were up against some really great bands out of Canada in 2007 and I never thought we’d beat them out,” Small said.
Another career highlight was being invited to perform in 2006 at a show in memory of the legendary rock guitarist Link Wray, who is known for his hit “Rumble.”
“I got to play two songs. I had Little Steven (E Street Band guitarist Steve Van Zandt) standing a few feet away from me on the stage and I thought, ‘I better make this good — that’s Little Steven listening.’ ”
When Small was going to school at Montana State University in the late 1970s and ’80s, he and a group of fellow students founded the Hyalite Blues Band, named for the lake outside Bozeman. Members of that group are still performing together as The Hooligans.
After earning a master’s degree in public administration at MSU, Small moved to Portland, Ore., where he performed with former Santana drummer Graham Lear, Diana Ross’ keyboardist George Mitchell, and conga player Bobby Torres, who performed at Woodstock with Joe Cocker. Mitchell still performs with Small and the others remain close friends.
“The Portland scene was much more competitive,” Small said. “I thought they’d love me. They looked at me like I was some Indian kid trying to taken away their gigs. I had to work for half the money and host jam sessions when I first got there.”
Small returned to Montana in 2005 to care for his ailing father and ended up moving back to Sheridan after his dad died. After decades of writing songs, Small has a huge assortment that show off all his influences, including Tex Mex, Cajun and Zydeco.
“What kind of musician would you be if you didn’t pick up influences?’’ Small said.
Small even wrote a surfer-style ballad influenced by Carlos Santana, one of Small’s musical heroes.
“I was talking to a friend on the phone and said, ‘I have this new song, kind of Carlos with a surf beat.’ He said, ‘Carlos Can’t Surf.’ I said, ‘Hey that’s good, can I use it?’ ”
Gary Small & the Coyote Bros perform normally perform songs from their NAMA Award winning "Wild Indians" album as well as their SAMA nominated album "Hostiles & Renegades. Says one critic"...Small's guitar playing so reminiscent of Carlos Santana it's stunning. In fact it wouldn't be unfair to say Small could become the Santana of Native American music-translating his history through myriad musical forms in a way that speaks on several levels." John Graham, Willamette Week
PDF Riderstage plot for full ensemble only
|Dec 31, 2013 Tuesday||12:00 PM||Schedule is at www.coyotebros.net||Sheridan, WY, US|
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