If the Eagles, Steve Earle, Dave Matthews and James Taylor had a lovechild, they would have named him Darryl Tonemah. Tonemah had no idea that when he began writing songs in college, that several years later, he would have played thousands of shows, made numerous radio and TV appearances, released six albums with multiple awards and nominations, all while building up what has become an international fan base. Despite all of these successes, Tonemah retains a deep connection with his roots and a gift for intimate storytelling that has become his trademark.
A full-blooded Native American (Kiowa/Comanche/Tuscarora), growing up on and off reservations throughout the country, as well as his "day job" as Dr. Tonemah, has given him a unique perspective that is evident in his song writing. "I have had the blessing of seeing and experiencing a lot of things during my travels – some great, some heartbreaking, some funny. They all inspire song ideas, lines, chord progressions, and drum patterns scribbled on pieces of paper that I had in my pocket. They usually all manage to end up in the back seat of my car. When I can't fit anything else back there, I figure it's time to record another album."
When recording his albums, Tonemah has worked with some of the finest session players and producers in Nashville to make sure the songs are presented in the best possible light, true to his vision of creating a heartfelt piece of music, touching on feelings and experiences inherent in everyone. Every recording maintains his unpretentious singing style, while featuring honest lyrics that cut to the heart of the matter. "It is a challenge trying to put everything I want to say or express into a 3 minute song. I think that it's important that each line is significant. Kind of like a movie short. In a movie short everything on screen has some symbolic value." Tonemah has received airplay in dozens of local markets throughout the US, Canada & even Alaska. In 2009 French record label, Dixie Frog Records, included the song "There's a Train" from the Welcome to Your Rainy Day as part of their compilation CD titled, Indian Reservation Blues, a multi-disc release that included Native American Musicians. Tonemah is currently in pre-production for his next album, which will coincide with the publication of a book co-written with author, Joseph Bruchac. Both the album and the book will tell the story of he and his family's journey after losing their Oklahoma home to a tornado.
Tonemah's live shows – whether with a full band or an intimate acoustic set – always find him connecting with his audience. A singer/songwriter in the purest sense, Tonemah's performances combine the energy of rock, the intelligence of folk and the heart of country, to create a musical niche he calls, "Native Americana." At times the trickster, at times the son, at times the father, at times the seeker, Tonemah is always the consummate storyteller, a storyteller who offers meaning where the listener needs to find it. Tonemah co-producer, Larry Pacheco, says it best; "During a recording project the artist usually brings ego, attitude or talent to the table, and rarely honestly lays it all out on the line. Working with Darryl Tonemah was different, he brought himself."
Just a few of Tonemah's live show highlights include performances at the the 2002 Winter Olympics, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Smithsonian Institute's Museum of the American Indian, The Native American Music Awards Show, and The New Orleans Jazz Festival. He has shared the stage with such national acts as: Foreigner, Three Dog Night, Hootie & The Blowfish, Creedence, Johnny Lang, Rusted Root & Donna The Buffalo, among others.
Darryl Tonemah is not satisfied with channeling his creativity solely in the area of music. He is also an actor that has appeared in three movies – "DMZ", "The Last Of The Mohicans," and "The Cherokee Word for Water," which will be released nationally at the end of 2012. His next film project, "A Moment In December," was written by himself and Kristopher Brayley. Tonemah also had the lead role in the stage production "Tribe," which toured nationally to sold out audiences. His natural acting abilities have also sparked the interest of national television studios that are considering him for various roles. As an author, Tonemah has written a book on Health and Wellness, a screenplay that has garnered the interest of a nationally-renowned studio, and is writing a trilogy of books.
As if musician, actor, and author are not enough, Dr. Darryl Tonemah also has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and Cultural Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a masters degree in Community Counseling, and three bachelor degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Gerontology. He currently travels to indigenous communities around the world teaching behavioral methods of change, and health and wellness. Dr. Tonemah also sits on numerous state and national boards addressing disparities in education, and health care among the Native Community; as well as the Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association.
Whether reaching out to Native communities through his many workshops & speaking engagements, or pouring it all out on stage, in front of the camera, in the recording studio, or putting pen to paper, Tonemah's personality always shines through as a man with a creative spirit, a compassionate heart, and a passion for life and his many pursuits.
Darryl Tonemah - Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
LP Tonemah - Vocals & Percussion
Ed Koban - Guitar
Robert Parker- Bass
Drums- Kris Brayley
Ink Blots and Random Thoughts (2009)
Welcome to Your Rainy Day (2006)
One in Every Crowd. (2004)
A Time Like Now (2002)
Journals of my Misperceptions (2000)
The Ghosts of St. Augustine (1997)
Can You Hear Me? (1992)
CD Review "Welcome to Your Rainy Day is a masterpiece."
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Welcome to Your Rainy Day: Darryl Tonemah. Gladiola Records Category: Contemporary Native American...Welcome to Your Rainy Day: Darryl Tonemah. Gladiola Records
Category: Contemporary Native American Folk/Rock.
2007's Native American Music Award winner for, Best Folk Recording Welcome to Your Rainy Day is a masterpiece. Tonemah's (Kiowa/Comanche/Tuscarora) marvelous mix of folk, pop & rock all come together on this delightful disc. Tonemah's vocals are some of the best he's ever produced and the songwriting on this album is far and above anything he's written to this point in his career. The arrangements are simple (vocals, piano & guitar for the most part), the harmonies sublime and the musicianship, sharp, clean and crisp. Not unlike a lot of Native Artists nowadays, Tonemah's opted for a more acoustic, organic direction for his music and his sound. This change suits him well. Highlights include the title track "There's A Train" and rousing reincarnation of Bob Dylan's, "I Shall Be Released".A strong showing from this Norman, Oklahoma Native, Tonemah's Welcome to Your Rainy Day is a winner.
Whispering Wind Magazine (Mar. 2007)
CD Review -Welcome to Your Rainy Day
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Tonemah: Welcome to Your Rainy Day [Independent 2008]. It's been some time since Darryl Tonemah (Kio...Tonemah: Welcome to Your Rainy Day [Independent 2008]. It's been some time since Darryl Tonemah (Kiowa/Comanche/Tuscarora) recorded an album, but this latest project is full of the old spark that illuminated his first issued more than a decade ago. Flush with his unique style, Tonemah presents both original material and covers of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released and "You Don't Get Much" by the BoDeans. The remaining nine songs are typical Tonemah magic that swings from melodic upbeat tempos such as "There's a Train" to songs of hopeful emotions exemplified by the track "In Grace's Eyes."The gentle acoustic resonance flows gracefully throughout the larger aspects of a full band without losing any of the direction that holds the album together from beginning to end.
-News From Indian Country
One in Every Crowd CD Review "What an album!"
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One in Every Crowd: Darryl Tonemah. Gladiola Records. Category: Contemporary Folk/Rock. Compact D... One in Every Crowd: Darryl Tonemah. Gladiola Records.
Category: Contemporary Folk/Rock. Compact Disc, 2004
Darryl Tonemah's (Kiowa/Comanche/ Tuscarora) follow-up to his multi-'Nammy'-nominated, "A Time Like Now" is good stuff! The Phoenix-based 'rocker' is writing better now than at any time in his career! With an assist by Steve Sheehan, Chris Graffagnino, Ed Koban, Larry Pacheco and a host of others, Tonemah's 'band buddies' make pure musical magic! What an album! Favorites include, "Combustible", Back 2 U", "Pow Wow Snag" and even a 'catchy' version of Bruce Springsteen's, "Fire"!
Make sure you 'snag' a copy of Tonemah's, "One in Every Crowd"!
Whispering Wind Magazine (Nov. 2004)
CD Review- A Time Like Now
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03-15-2002 Tonemah: A Time Like Now [Gladiola Records 2001] Darryl Tonemah (Kiowa-Comanche-Tuscar...03-15-2002
Tonemah: A Time Like Now
[Gladiola Records 2001]
Darryl Tonemah (Kiowa-Comanche-Tuscarora) releases a disc that defines his sound as a talented singer/songwriter and a quality performer. His new album, A Time Like Now, is a galvanizing work sharp with emotion and metaphor. Beyond the lyric, instrumental arrangement and playing quality, the sound is rife with a folk/rock mix that he performs in a manner that best accentuates his abilities. The arrangements and lyrics are indeed strengths that hold the project altogether. The most outstanding tracks include "Grace," "Tangerine Lemonade," "Fourteen Ninety-Two" and "Usual Paranoia"
News From Indian Country
Times Record Review
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Fri, February 15, 2002 'Native Americana' hits Olympics Lana Sweeten-Shults, , Times Record News...Fri, February 15, 2002
'Native Americana' hits Olympics
Lana Sweeten-Shults, , Times Record News
Texans call it Americana.
But stir in a touch of tangerine lemonade and sass it with some red earth-bound spirituality, and you've created what former Lawton resident Darryl Tonemah calls "Native Americana."
It's a salve on the wound of radio sameness that mixes the healing power of rock, folk, blues and country, and Tonemah - a Kiowa, Comanche and Tuscarora Native American - is applying the remedy in heavy doses with his latest CD, "A Time Like Now" which is due for release this April.
For Tonemah, in fact, there's no better time like now for his music, which is entertaining crowds at the Olympics.
With the games nestled in the misty mountains of Utah, the ultimate winter sporting event has adopted a Native American theme.
"They were looking for Native American entertainers to play," said Tonemah, who is performing two shows a day at the Olympics through Saturday - a thrill for family members, some of whom still live in the area, including in Wichita Falls.
Tonemah was busy packing earlier this week, getting ready to perform for estimated crowds of 10,000 to 30,000. If so, it would be the biggest crowd Tonemah would perform for, the largest previous to the Olympics being a festival crowd of 6,000.
It's been a wild ride getting to the Olympics for Tonemah. The singer still works a day job in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., in addition to fronting his two-pronged band contingent, with one band based in New York and the other in Arizona.
"I have a very practical family," Tonemah said. "I needed to get my education and have that to fall back on."
Tonemah works as a consultant about 20 hours a week, heading wellness education programs for Native American youth, including leadership training, self-esteem and goal-setting. Lately he's been working in Phoenix with the National Diabetes Prevention Program.
With his practical side in check, Tonemah lets his creative side soar as a musician. He brewed up his music at coffee shops while in college in Nebraska and became the first artist in the nation to play a VH-1 college music show.
Then Dakota Moon productions took notice. The result was his first CD, "Can You Hear Me?" a compilation, Tonemah said, of every type of music he'd ever heard.
Since that first release, the singer's day job has taken a back seat to his music, and though he hasn't been signed by a major label yet, he's gained a following at the many festivals he plays.
He was also nominated by the Native American Music Awards for Best Contemporary Album, Best Album Folk or Country and Best Male Artist in 1998.
"The first CD was pretty country," Tonemah said. "The second was more folk-country, and the last one, 'Journal of my Misperceptions,' was kind of more Dave Matthews. With this one, I'm trying to carve a niche for Native Americana."
The subject matter on the CD ranges from the wispy "Tangerine Lemonade," about the simple things in life, to politically-tinged "Fourteen-Ninety-Two" with its lyrics: "Lock us up in your glass walls/Watch us fight over bingo halls/ As you keep your smirk out of sight."
Tonemah's Native American heritage is evident on the CD. Not only does he play flute, but he weaves spirituality around all his songs.
"I think inherent in Native American people is spiritual strength," he said, a quality he hopes he relates to the Olympic crowds that come to hear him play this weekend.
"It's a real opportunity," he said. "It'll be something cool to tell my nieces and nephews."
Arts and entertainment editor Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at (940) 720-3462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The live shows consist mainly of Tonemah originals, but you will occasionally hear a tune by anyone from Blues Traveler, to the Bodeans, to Springsteen.
Some Tonemah live standards consist of;
Run out of Gas Right Here
Give Love a Try
Beautiful to Me
World of Mine
Share Your Ride (Taxi)
Pow Wow Snag
...To name a few
Any song, any album is fair game for shows!
There are no upcoming dates at this time.