Michael Bucher
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Michael Bucher


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"A conversation with Native musician Michael Bucher"

A conversation with Native musician Michael Bucher

By Vincent Schilling, Today correspondent
Story Published: Oct 12, 2009
Story Updated: Oct 12, 2009

Cherokee musician Michael Bucher is gaining considerable ground as a Native artist.

In 2007, Bucher was a double Nammy nominee for “Best Folk” and “Debut Artist” for his song, “Don’t Forget about Me” off his “Seven” album.

In 2008, Bucher received a Native-E Music Award for “Dirty Water,” a music video about Mato Paha (Bear Butte Mountain) in South Dakota. The video was also nominated for “Best Short Form Video” at the Native American Music Awards.

Recently, Bucher and Joanne Shenandoah worked with Hondo Mesa Records and released a tribute album to Johnny Cash entitled “Bitter Tears, Sacred Ground.” The album has received excellent reviews. At 55, Bucher is just getting started, he is currently in the studio working on his next album, “Believe.”

Bucher took a moment between recording tracks to speak with Indian Country Today.

Indian Country Today: You have had a busy 2009. What are some highlights?

Michael Bucher: “Bitter Tears” came out to great reviews and I am very grateful. Another highlight this year was being part of the presidential inauguration. It was an incredible experience. I met some amazing people like retired Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and I worked with Joanne Shenandoah, Grammy winner Tom Wasinger, Bill Miller, Levi Platero and Martha Redbone. I had a great time.

ICT: What are you working on now?

Bucher: My new album, which is entitled ‘Believe.’ In fact, I literally just finished recording that song last week and it has turned out just great. ‘Believe’ is coming out this fall.

ICT: Why call it ‘Believe?

Bucher: It’s a shout out to everyone who needs something to believe in. Unfortunately, the suicide rate in Indian country is 70 percent higher than any other race in this country. Some people say that is a negative to look at when there are so many positive things in Indian country. That is true, there are incredibly positive things happening in Indian country. However, in my view you can’t bury your head in the sand.

For anyone that has ever battled depression and considered suicide, you have to believe that there is hope and there is always a way out. That is why I created this song. It is about the power of belief. That is the signature of the album.

ICT: Many of your songs have an inspirational message; what kind of feedback have you gotten?

Bucher: When you play out in some of the Native reservations, like Pine Ridge or the Blandin Indian Community in Minnesota, the Franklin Avenue Indian Community or the Lac Courte Oreilles, so many people are so thankful for the good words that you have. Sometimes during the shows and after the shows, you get to interact with the people and it is just awesome.

At Lac Courte Oreilles, I had just played ‘You are not Alone’ off my ‘Seven’ album and I noticed one guy in the back kept waiting to speak with me and stepped out of the way to let other people first. He was the last guy, he shook my hand gave me a hug and said ‘Thank you for that song’ he became teared up and also said ‘I wish my son had heard that song, six months ago he committed suicide, if he had heard that song, maybe he might had done differently.’ I hugged him and teared up myself. That was probably one of the most powerful things that have happened to me.

ICT: What do you hope to accomplish with ‘Believe?

Bucher: To have people listen and understand that in each one of us there is a power that we can share with other people. When I wrote ‘Believe’ I thought, ‘if I was the most powerful healer in the world – a medicine man that could heal people, what would I do?’ That’s where this song took off from.

I am hoping that people will believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can’t have hope. You’ve got to believe that you can get out from the gangs, drugs and other things and make something of yourself. I am telling you that you definitely can. - Indian Country Today

"Bear Butte Mountain: A beautiful, sacred site in South Dakota"

Bear Butte Mountain: A beautiful, sacred site in South Dakota

By Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today correspondent
Story Published: Apr 7, 2009

STURGIS, S.D. – Just outside Sturgis is the Sacred Mato Paha or Bear Butte Mountain. Bear Butte, a 4,426-foot mountain, rests on the northernmost part of the Black Hills. It has been a sacred site to the Northern Plains Indians for thousands of years.

Today, Bear Butte Mountain attracts visitors from all over the world. Bear Butte is still a place for traditional American Indian ceremonies. When hiking up the mountain on designated trails, it’s common to see trees bestowed with sacred tobacco offerings wrapped in colorful cloth as representations of prayers to the Creator.

According to a Lakota story, long ago a giant bear and a water monster similar to a dinosaur, battled for many days and nights. Because of the fierce battle, valleys filled with blood. The giant bear was wounded by the sea monster’s jagged teeth and the bear crawled away to die. The ground erupted, darkness covered the earth, and fire, ashes, water and mud went into the sky.

“You cannot take away the spirituality of this mountain, which is its true draw. That is its true magnificence. For everybody that comes here, I believe it is different. No two people that come here have the same experience.” -- Jim Jandreau, Bear Butte Park manager

The story continues with the bear’s body disappearing, and in place of the bear was a hill in the shape of the bear’s sleeping body which continued to rumble and smolder.

To the native Lakota, Bear Butte has long been a place to hold council meetings and ceremonies such as vision quests and Sun dances. In the mid-1800s the father of Crazy Horse, a great holy man, climbed Bear Butte to seek spiritual guidance on a vision quest.

It has been said that Wakantanka appeared before the holy man in the form of a bear and gave him power to overcome obstacles and defeat his enemies. Crazy Horse’s father asked that the same gifts also be given to his son. After this bestowment, the mountain was known as Bear Butte or Mata Paha.

The history of Bear Butte is rich, as well as literal, artifacts dating back 10,000 years have been discovered near it. Tipi rings have been found along Bear Butte’s perimeter, as well as rocks the Sioux once placed along the mountain’s summit to establish claims to the land, to mark distance or to offer prayers.

Many note a profound spiritual connection when visiting the site.

Jim Jandreau, who was born and raised on the Lower Brule Sioux in South Dakota is the first American Indian park manager at Bear Butte State park. Jandreau admits that although the sites of Bear Butte are majestic, the profound connection to spiritual matters are much more prevalent.

“You cannot take away the spirituality of this mountain, which is its true draw. That is its true magnificence. For everybody that comes here, I believe it is different. No two people that come here have the same experience.”

Jandreau said Bear Butte is open to anyone who wishes to visit.

“The medicine men that practice here and bring their people here to worship will all tell you that this mountain is not exclusive to only Indian people praying. Anybody who comes in the right mind and the right heart with prayer on their lips, with humbleness is welcome. When you go to that area with that humbleness then we are all truly equal.”

Bear Butte has long been the subject of preserving sacred sites by American Indian artists. Award-winning American Indian musician Michael Bucher, Cherokee, whose song off his “Seven” album entitled “Dirty Water” fights for the preservation of the site.

“I went to Bear Butte Mountain and climbed along the trails to look at the view and to feel the sanctity of the place. You can see buffalo at the base of Bear Butte and see prayer flags all over the trees. They are tobacco cloth offerings. Some of the multi-colored ribbons are old and faded and some of the flags are on trees that have been uprooted by the weather. It all adds to the holiness of the place that so many prayers for hundreds of years have been prayed there,” Bucher said.

Both Bucher and Jandreau said that though visitors may go for the simple beauty of Bear Butte or to hike the trails that were once traversed by Indian people so many years ago, visitors leave with much more than they may have anticipated.

“Everyone that comes off this mountain, it doesn’t matter if they are Indian or non-Indian or what tribe they are from, when they come away from this mountain, and go to see that medicine man interpreter about their vision, none of them will ever be the same,” Jandreau said. “People who come here are changed spiritually and morally. They may not know it when they drive out of the gate, but that stays with them.” - Indian Country Today

"Indigenous in the News Featured Artist Review Michael Bucher - Seven"

Indigenous in the News Featured Artist Review
Michael Bucher - Seven
By Jamison Mahto

Mr. Bucher (Cherokee/French) has a beautiful Baritone voice and accompanies himself with his acoustic guitar and "Seven"; his newly released CD has several guest appearances by competent side people that know what they are doing. The overall sound is something that lives in the space between folk and country with a Native American flavor. He is very strong musically and I particularly enjoy the mix of various instruments; percussion, bass, guitars and the voices are mixed well and there is a nice balance. The sound is spare from many standpoints. There aren’t a lot of synthetic sounds.

The song "Don’t Forget About Me" deals with the desecration of sacred burial sites. Right away you’ll notice Mr. Bucher’s strong Baritone singing voice. There’s some interesting guitar work in the intro to the first track. In this song, he tells us “if they have no honor, they have no shame.” This particular track is receiving a lot of airplay on several Native American radio stations.

His second track, Cherokee Rose is an actual flower that grows along the Trail Of Tears. In the spring of 1838 Andrew Jackson had the Cherokee of Georgia rounded up, the agency provided them with spoiled rotting food that made them sick and held them in stockades or concentration camps. They prayed for a sign that their journey would never be forgotten and the flower that’s called the Cherokee Rose began blooming along the trail.

In track three he says “and so for our children’s sake, we do what we must, we do what we must.” This is a profoundly insightful lyric because not only do we do what we must for our children’s sake on a deeper level it’s a call to a collective survival. It’s called a Diaspora.

I, at first, was not completely taken with the song “The Awakening” but, I had the opportunity to speak with Michael over the phone and he told me that this song was written for a grandmother that died on the Trail of Tears. But then he began to realize that he had indeed learned much from all his grandmothers. He had to put what he’d learned into that context and he feels blessed to have learned from them. It is important to Michael how they influenced his journey home, to the center, back to balance.

I also spoke to Mr. Bucher about the Eagle Song and the nice guitar intro to flute leads into a song that describes an epiphany surrounding the acquisition of an eagle feather. He utilizes his traditional instruments sparingly, which in the contemporary musical idiom is the only appropriate way to do it. In his encounter with the eagle, the narrator claims the eagle didn’t want to know his blood quantum. This single event had changed Michael forever.

In the title track "Seven", the lyrics go “enjoy the journey you’re on.” This is an Ode to several traditional Indian concepts. Including the seven generations prophecy. But it’s sung so seriously that I’m wondering about the actual basis for the sentiment but just generally speaking it’s a really wonderful sentiment for a song. It might be the grief that exists surrounding the philosophy that makes it seem tragic rather than pathetic and lighter. I can identify with the sentiment that this journey through life including our grief and suffering can be enjoyed and life is the gift that the creator gives freely and the suffering is there so we can rise above it and become worthy of that life.

The final track of this beautifully spare CD starts with an acoustic finger style guitar intro. It is very evident that Michael can sing. This is a beautiful sentiment written in a strong lyrical style. The narrator of the story is intent on letting people know that there is something larger than us that binds us together and that tie that binds includes our collective suffering.

As a published author with several books of poetry to my name, I am particularly impressed with Michael’s facility with a lyric. He has several very strong performances in that regard. In particular, “Don’t Forget About Me” and the somewhat spiritually cryptic sonnet titled “You’re Not Alone”.

It’s easy enough to hear the country influence in his music, the result of tastes in music like; Buddy Red Bow, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Buffy Ste. Marie and Bill Miller.

I always appreciate it when an artist lets me in on the lyrical content of the work. It’s such an important piece of the puzzle and I know enough to expect that if someone bills themselves as a Story Teller they damn well better understand that I listen to lyrics. If a person is a Troubadour the essential part of the music is then the lyrics and Mr. Bucher doesn’t disappoint. He can deliver a lyrical story with a message much to our satisfaction.

There are a lot of Troubadours out there that need to get with Michael Bucher and learn the tricks of the storyteller’s trade. Michael Bucher’s CD Seven lives up to our expectations of a brilliant and talented storyteller. This is one CD that will show you your way when you get lost and we all know that sometimes the trail is covered with snow.

The Indigenous in Music program was developed to support Indigenous Musicians. After we did our research, we discovered that our Indigenous Musicians were not getting the exposure needed to get into the mainstream music scene. We started the “Indigenous in Music” Brand.

- Indigenous in Music

"Native Music Rocks and AIS put together incredible lineup"

Native Music Rocks and AIS put together incredible lineup

By Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today correspondent

Story Updated: Jan 21, 2009

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va – As thousands of people flocked to Washington D.C. in anticipation of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, perhaps no one celebrated with more fervor than Indian country.

The festivities will begin Jan. 19 at the Hard Rock Café on D.C.’s “E” street. Native Music Rocks, a new initiative presented in conjunction with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock International arguably will deliver one of the largest arrays of American Indian musical artists in recent history.

Crowds will be able to view artists like Grammy and Native American Music Award winner Micki Free, Nammy winners Keith Secola, Derek Miller and Martha Redbone as well as award-winning country artist Crystal Shawanda, former Cheap Trick member Jon Brant and performances by Shea Hawk and Levi and the Plateros at Hard Rock Café.

The crowd will also enjoy premier performances by the Seminole Star Search Champions, David Billy, Hank Nelson Jr. and Paula Bowers-Sanchez.

And that’s only the beginning.

On the night following Obama’s inauguration, the American Indian Society’s 11th Inaugural Ball presents an equally impressive lineup as the previous night’s festivities at the Hard Rock Café.

Joanne Shenandoah will open the ball’s events with the National Anthem followed by the Seminole Star Search winners. Michael Bucher, Cherokee musician will start the show with captivating music honoring sacred sites of indigenous people.

“My music is all about the protection of sacred sites and Native burial mounds,” said Bucher. “To be playing with this caliber of musicians and to be playing this night for the people all across Indian country, the people that are my champions, is humbling. To be playing up here having just finished an album with Joanne Shenandoah feels like my message and music is being accepted by my heroes in the business.”

Shenandoah, who is scheduled to performed third at the ball said, “I am extremely proud to present the new recording “Bitter Tears Sacred Ground” with Michael Bucher. Michael is a very talented musician. I first heard him sing at the Nammy awards. I was thrilled to present him with Best Debut Artist. You can feel it in your soul when folks write and sing from their heart.

“We both have a deep appreciation for our ancestors and it is their voice speaking through us in this next recording. Contributions of the Native American have been extremely significant. It is for this reason, I am proud to come and celebrate with the American Indian Society of D.C. This organization has continued to celebrate and support our culture for generations. What an incredible honor!”

The evening will continue with a host of Native musicians that are sure to leave the crowd at the AIS Inaugural Ball awestruck.

Free also serves as director of Seminole Heritage Events and Promotions. Free, the AIS, Seminole Tribal Chairman Mitchell Cypress and Hard Rock International worked closely to assemble an impressive cast of musicians through Native Music Rocks. Free announced the birth of Native Music Rocks in October at the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I am proud first of all that I am part of this along with the Seminole Tribe and the AIS. Native Music Rocks is a Native American All-Star Jam that demonstrates that the contributions and talent of Native American musicians is endless.”

As a platinum-selling artist who has won numerous Native American Music Awards, a Grammy and played with Cheryl Crow, The Police, Eric Clapton and John Mayer, Free brings credibility to his position as director of Seminole Heritage Events and Promotions. When he talks about the importance of Native contributions to the music industry, people listen.

With his influence, Free intends to continue introducing the world to Native music. “At first they wanted to call it Native Music Rock and Roll but I said ‘you can’t pigeon-hole Native music.’ We decided to call it Native Music Rocks because all Native music rocks, whether it is flute or drums or whatever.”

In a news release, Seminole Heritage Events and Promotions said Native Music Rocks is an important call to action to other tribal nations and leaders to support Native musicians at their casinos, hotels and special event venues.

If events like these continue to come from the Seminole Heritage Events and Promotions and Native Music Rocks, with a list of artists this impressive, the initiative’s success will likely continue. - Indian Country Today

"Sending a Voice for the Ancients in Protection of Sacred Sites"

Michael Bucher
Cherokee Songwriter/Singer: “Seven”
Sending a Voice for the Ancients in Protection of Sacred Sites

By Abena Songbird

BLACK HILLS WILD HORSE SANCTUARY, HOT SPRINGS — NAMA Award-winning Cherokee Acoustic artist, Michael Bucher comes from a deeply traditional, spiritual family.

Music was passed to him as a small child listening to his great-uncle sing. He would listened to his grandparents stories: things told to them from Cherokee people in Georgia who, after being forced along the Trail of Tears, had no rights left and were declassified as citizens.

“They were taunted, and they protested, no matter what issue,” says the 54 year old artist, adding that they were thrown in jail with no legal rights, and no representation.

The burial mounds that echo these experiences were plentiful down in the southeast, he says. “That was one of the sacred grounds and they could do nothing but watch as they were dug up as settlers looked for gold and silver – anything of value.”

This is one of the scenes richly depicted in his new music video, “Don’t Forget About Me” recently filmed on private location at the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs by PK Productions LLC, Karla LaRive, Producer and Christopher Crosby, Videographer/Editor, musicseenPROductions.

These horrific stories angered Bucher from the time he was a child and led later in life to his current burgeoning career as a songwriter/storyteller, performer and recording artist.

“My great uncle just before he died, was the last fluent speaker of the Cherokee language in my family,” he said. “I would sit by the phone. He called me every two weeks; and our conversation always went to the Sacred Sites nowadays – what is happening to the burial mounds – and the Native gravesites in general.” Though able to read the written language himself Bucher noted that the loss of this relative, “a living treasure,” was deeply felt.

“Then the questions really arise – how do you say this in the proper dialect,” he said. “It’s great because the Cherokee have their own syllabus.”

Bucher says their talks were of the continuing desecration despite the existence of NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) created in 1990 to protect these issues.

“We were still talking and I told him – if I could just write a song that would really do something – then I would say what I wanted to say,” Bucher notes. “He told me, ‘Stop talking about it – do it.’”

Following that conversation, the 25 year seasoned veteran carpenter in his home city of Chicago, Bucher later picked up his guitar and fifteen minutes later the song, “Don’t Forget About Me” off his 2007 CD Release, “Seven” came out complete.

“The song came out so fast – in my head I had to say, ‘slow down’ it came so fast. I knew it was a gift,” he said. “It came from a higher power then me.”

Though the inspiration for much of Bucher’s music, and he had his blessing, his great uncle never got to hear the finished song or the entire finished CD, “Seven.” He passed in October of 2006.

“He was a powerful man,” he said, adding that the music went a long way towards “healing the heartache.”

Since the passsing of his great uncle, Frank Dumey and grandmother Emma, a primary drive to protect burial mounds, grave sites and sacred sites is now an all-consuming passion of Bucher’s which extends across the nation – including Mato Paha, Bear Butte.

The Mississippian sites: Etowah Mounds of Georgia, Cahokia in Illinois, Spiro in Oklahoma and Moundville in Alabama, are just a few in peril from developers in recent years, along with the Townsend Mounds in Tennessee The Great Serpent Mound of south-central Ohio, reclaimed protection from proposed development in 1993 when the Army Corps of Engineers denied permits based on the Clean Water Act; though many lesser known Mounds still face destruction, and the NAGPRA Act has been continually challenged.

“It’s monumental. That’s what I am doing it (music) for,” he added. “The world just doesn’t get it – and they never will. It’s for us to do what we can. The ancient ones – nobody speaks for them anymore. They don’t have a voice unless we do what we can.”

Drum maker
Bucher also has learned the ancient art of drum making from his grandmother. As a child he says he would go around playing spoons, forks and tap, tap, tapping on everything.

“My Grandma (Emma) had an old farmhouse in southern Wisconsin, and I would pound on the wood work. It really sounded like a drum,” he laughs. “She said, ‘That’s enough. She started nicknaming me ‘dragging drum’ – after a Cherokee tree called “dragging canoe.”

Soaking the cow hide and lacing it, his grandmother would fashion these small drums that from the age of 8 he would “drag everywhere.” His grandfather hollowed out a piece of firewood.

“That was the beginning of it,” he said. “I had my first drum.”

This same grandmother bought Bucher his first guitar.

Citing diverse early influences he listened primarily to rock and roll as a teenager, and played conventional drums.

Among these first mentors he lists: Buddy Red Bow, Buffy St. Marie, Johnny Cash, and other early country artists, Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, Rolling Stones as well as contemporary Native artists such as Bill Miller.

Contemporary Musician/ a Fated Collaboration
Bucher’s life as a professional musician started just two years ago following his song, “Don’t Forget About Me” which addresses Sacred Sites and their protection. He released a premier CD, “Seven” recorded on his Blue Hills Record label in Birchwood, Wisconsin.. and mastered at The Groove in Minneapolis. The CD features 10 original songs which feature is heartfelt, strong vocals blended with contemporary and Native drum, shaker, rattles, flute, bass and electric guitar.

“When that song came to me it was my deciding factor – whether I was really going to do the music,” he said. “I’ll do anything I can for Sacred Sites.”

His song is heart music; deeply rooted in his stories and legends of his Cherokee heritage and woven together with folk, rock and the blues.

As a performer at the 2007 Native American Music Awards or NAMMYS Bucher was nominated for his song, “Don’t Forget About Me” (off the “Seven” CD) in two categories: Best Debut Album, and Best Folk Recording to be decided at the 2008 NAMMY Awards.

“It’s new, bit it’s not new to me - it’s been in my all along,” he said, noting that he picked the guitar up again in his early 20s and started playing acoustic professionally. Though he can flat pick, his style shines with a signature finger-picking, embellishing the music with traditional turtle rattles. The opening to “Don’t Forget About Me” features natural hide Shakers.

In attendance at last year Awards, Karla LaRive of PK Productions LLC in Hot Springs (Co-Producer of SHADOWYZE’s “Bumpy Roads” 2007 NAMA Nominee Best Short Form Music Video/DVD) with her colleague, Videographer/Editor Christopher Crosby, of musicseenPROductions approached Bucher excited by his performance of song “Dirty Water” with a completed video of footage they had previously shot at the Wild Horse Sanctuary and other South Dakota sites around the Mato Paha/Bear Butte Sacred Site protection struggle. The two have partnered on music videos since 2006, though Crosby has made other music videos and technical background with CNN broadcasting. The production is the third indigenous music video from PK Productions shot on location in July 2008 at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary petrogylph site and other regional locations.

“We already made our minds up that we wanted to do something with Michael, but of course he didn’t know that yet,” laughs LaRive.

Much of the footage shot independently of Bucher, seemed seamless; tailor-made for his song, and indeed was later added and became the current collaborative music video, “Dirty Water” which was nominated for Best Short Form Music Video and premiered at the 2008 NAMA Awards, though it did not win the nomination.

Currently the artist is working on a new album that includes some live performance. The hope to take it to wider film festival markets under its own category – indigenous documentary music video.

“My goal, and Christopher’s is to take this new music video, “Don’t Forget About Me” to the 2009 NAMMYS with Michael,” said LaRive on set of the video shoot in Hot Springs. “We feel it’s really important enough piece to present.”

Some of the footage on the new music video was shot by the duo of Michael singing at the Seneca/Niagara Casino of last year’s Awards.

“What happened historically is – with the Bear Butte Mountain conversation being so volatile – and the politics and legislators inability to negotiate in terms of a buffer zone – myself being a resident too – I knew this was just not right and when I heard Michael’s music I thought, ‘hmmm you don’t think it’s right either…’ LaRive noted. Then she heard the song. “It was a pretty rockin’ rock tune, pretty great guitar song – and oh my God the lyrics,” she said.

“I wrote that song because I was p.o.’d – I call it my “ticked-off tune” about all the things that were happening and still are happening in Indian Country,” Bucher adds. “If I was going to put a CD out I was going to bring it to light – for all the people who have no idea what’s going on – for them to say, ‘Hey this has got to stop.”

LaRive, prior to the collaboration, identified herself as a non-Native manager/producer in the Black Hills representing Native American performers and artists. It took Michael to find the “Indian” in her.

“My grandmother was sent away to the country because her father was half-Cherokee….” LaRive related to Bucher, who smiled, “Tell me more about your family…”

Both agreed that the new collaboration fits perfectly in the sacred land of the Black Hills - at the 11,000 acres - 15 square miles of the non-profit Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs – home to over 500 mustangs.

Don’t Forget About Me
"I’m the one who has painted on the rock in the desert sun. I’m the one who was buried with the small pox blanket o the run. I’m the one who has built my burial mound for all to see never dreaming that the grave robbers prize would be me. Chorus: Don’t forget about me I’m the voice singing in your head. Don’t forget about me I told the stories that you have. Don’t’forget about me take notice of all they do if they do it to me who’s to say they won’t do it to you…" – (2006 CD “Seven”)

“If one person can be healed by my music then it’s all worth it” – Michael Bucher - Native Legacy Magazine - Winter 2009

"Bitter Tears Sacred Ground Review - Oct 2009"

Joanne Shenandoah & Michael Bucher "Bitter Tears Sacred Ground"

Label: Hondo Mesa Records; 2009

Joanne Shenandoah (vocals, guitar, flute, percussion) is a member of the Oneida Iroquois Confederacy and for the past 20 years she has been doing what her Indian name Tekali wha kwah“ (she sings) suggests.

Together with Michael Bucher (vocals, guitar), aka Ko-la-nv“ (raven) – from the Cherokee Nation, and a bunch of talented guest musicians she has recorded an album honouring three unforgettable advocates for the Native American Movement.

"Bitter Tears – Sacred Ground“ features five cover versions of Johnny Cash’s in the US blacklisted album "Bitter Tears“, three from the departed New York Songwriter Peter Lafarge and two songs from Cash.

They added Joanne’s version of the American national anthem, a cover version of the Dakota activist Floyd Westerman, two songs from Bucher as well as four from Shenandoah.

The reason for being blacklisted was Lafarge’s protest song "As long as the Sun will shine“, dealing with the breach of the agreement the
American government had signed with the Native American people in 1794. Shenandoah sings it with much emotion while Bucher sings "Apache Tears“ and "Talking Leaves“, two typical Cash songs. "Drums“ and "The Ballad of Ira Hayes“, two other songs from Lafarge, match perfectly to the nearly clichéd Western Sound of the Cash album. As a counterpoint to these system-critical songs Shenandoah sings a hauntingly beautiful a Capella version of "Star Spangled Banner“.

After these covered songs they bring forward their self-crafted tracks. "Sacred Ground“ is a perfect showcase for Bucher’s sonorous voice and his "Don’t Forget About Me“ stands out with its brilliant arrangement, the beautiful singing and the intoxicating rhythm.

Shenandoah rather sticks to melancholic ballads like "Who imagined“ or sings an awe-inspiring ode to the Indian life, "Riding Free“.

Thud drum beats accompany Shenandoah’s lament when she sings Westerman’s "They didn’t listen“ and finally she brings forward a conciliable song for her homeland, "America“.

"Bitter Tears – Sacred Ground“ is an album full of the most beautiful singing and musical highlights introducing us to two of the finest songwriters of the Native American Community.

Shenandoah and Bucher both have amazing voices, the band is first class and last but not least the socially committed lyrics give us a good insight into the problems of the Native American people; a must for fans of Native American Americana.


Adolf 'gorhand' Goriup
Folk World (Germany) - Folk World (Germany)


Believe – December 2009 - Blue Hills Records

In December 2009, Michael released his third cd titled Believe. With Believe, he picked up where his first cd, Seven left off with a mix of contemporary styled Native songs and lyrics that come from the heart. He wrote the title song of the cd and dedicated it to and for those who are struggling with the battle of teen suicide. For Native youth ages 18 and under the suicide rate is 70% higher than any other race in the country. It is his hope that through music and education, he can help make a difference in that percentage.

Rise Up – November 2009 – Spirit Wind Records

Blessings – a song written and recorded by Michael off of his Believe album was chosen for a compilation CD entitled Rise Up, for the benefit of native homeless people across the country. The cd was released at the 2009 NAMA concert and awards show in Seneca New York. Michael has directed that all proceeds from this song go to homeless foundations across the country.

Bitter Tears Sacred Ground – January 2009 – Hondo Mesa Records

In 2009, Michael teamed up with Grammy and Nammy Award Winner, Joanne Shenandoah to create Bitter Tears Sacred Ground, honoring Johnny Cash, Floyd Red Crow Westerman and Peter LaFarge. The CD was released by Hondo Mesa Records.

Seven – Dec 2006 – Blue Hills Records

Michaels first independently released album, Seven according to Michael…”gives the listener a glimpse into the mind of Michael Bucher. It is a reflection of his native views on the desecration of sacred sites and all that is held reverent to indigenous people everywhere, the desecration of the earth itself through blatant and wanton pollution.” The first track on the album, Don’t Forget About Me was selected to be part of a compilation CD for the Sacred Sites Run Organization. All proceeds have been donated to the organization’s causes.

In 2007, Seven’s sixth track, Dirty Water was made into a music video as tribute to Bear Butte Mountain in South Dakota. The music video was nominated for a 2008 NAMA for “Best Short Form Music Video.”

Michael’s second music video, Don’t Forget About Me was nominated at the 2009 Native American Music Awards for ‘Best Short Form Video’. The production was filmed on-location in western South Dakota at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary and Pine Ridge Reservation. The music video deals with the protection of Native burial mounds, Native grave sites and sacred sites.

In the spring of 2009, two of Michael’s songs from Seven were selected for the film documentary by AEGIS Films entitled On Sacred Ground. The documentary addresses the concerns of Native people on the continual development and encroachment of the sacred sites of Bear Butte and Devil’s Tower. The film has toured at film festivals throughout Europe and is currently touring the U.S.; The documentary has won the coveted Accolade Film Festival Award.



MICHAEL BUCHER is a Cherokee singer-songwriter who was taught from an early age, the stories, language and legends of his people. Through the writing and composition of his award-winning songs, Michael Bucher hopes to teach, heal and bring awareness to everyone who hears them.

Singing about topics that are important to him and to others in in this world, Michael touches on such important issues as the desecration of sacred sites, the Cherokee legends of his ancestors and today’s and yesterday’s “Invisible Indian,” a figure that has often gone unrecognized in history for contributions made and promises broken.

Michael’s coined term and artistic perspective of “Reactionary Music,” with strong and melodic vocals, heartfelt lyrics and blend of acoustic and electric guitar, native and intermittent contemporary drum, flutes, shakers, rattles and bass - succeeds in creating a new cutting edge musical sound that blazes a pathway as of yet uncreated through native folk, blues and rock music.

Michael’s music career, which officially began when his late grand-uncle told him to “get busy and do something to help Native people,” shortly before passing away, has its foundation set behind a lifetime of music – something that has always been in his family.

As a boy, Michael grew up in a diverse neighborhood of Chicago and even delivered newspapers in four different languages to his neighbors. He learned to make his own native drums taught by his respected grandmother and was taught to respect the drum as “the heartbeat of Mother Earth.”

After a lifetime of music and art – Michael decided to take his talent to the road, straight into the hearts of many appreciative fans. With passion, drive and a love for the welfare of all people on the earth to have happier and more artistic lives, it is no surprise Michael Bucher has been consistently taking home a multitude of awards and nominations since professionally entering the music scene in 2007.

He lives in Wisconsin with his wife Deb and a multitude of friendly animals in an amazingly crafted contemporary log home he built with his own hands.

For more information on Michael Bucher – visit his website at www.michaelbucher.com.


12th Annual Native American Music Awards
Winner - Best Folk Recording - Believe Album

Nominated in five additional categories Artist of the Year – Michael Bucher
Record of the Year - Believe Album
Songwriter of the Year – Michael Bucher
Best Folk - Believe Album
Best Compilation – Rise Up Album

11th Annual Native American Music Awards
Winner - Best Compilation - Bitter Tears - Sacred Ground - with Grammy winning artist Joanne Shenandoah

Nominated in six additional categories
Best Male - Michael Bucher
Best Video - "Don't Forget About Me" song written/performed by Michael Bucher
Best Compilation - Bitter Tears - Sacred Ground - Joanne Shenandoah & Michael Bucher
Best Record - Bitter Tears - Sacred Ground - Joanne Shenandoah & Michael Bucher
Best Female - Joanne Shenandoah
Song/Single - Riding Free written by Joanne Shenandoah

Indian Summer Music Awards Winner
Best Folk Album - Bitter Tears - Sacred Ground

10th Annual Native American Music Awards

Best Short Form Music Video for Dirty Water – Seven Album
2008 Native E Music Awards
Winner - Best Song - Don’t Forget About Me – Seven Album

9th Annual Native American Music Awards
Nominated in two categories:
Debut Artist
Best Folk – Seven Album
Indian Summer Music Awards
Nominated in two categories
Best Folk - Seven Album
Best Pop - Seven Album

PERFORMANCES Michael has performed in front of sold-out audiences all across the country and has shared the stage with Grammy, Nammy and other multi-award winning international and national artists to include Joanne Shenandoah, Bill Miller, Keith Secola, Garnett Rodgers, John Smith, Tonemah, Jan Michael Looking Wolf, Gabriel Ayala and many others.

He has performed at such highly regarded venues as the Native American Music Awards at the Seneca Niagara Casino/Hotel in New York; the Indian Summer Music Awards in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Pow-Wow Cruise; the Longest Walk Concert in Washington, DC and the Native E Music Awards in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Michael was also a featured performer at the American Indian Society of Washington DC Inaugural Ball in January 2009. D.C.

AIRPLAY / INTERVIEWS Michael Bucher’s music has conducted numerous interviews and his music has received a large amount of airplay on nationally and internationally syndicated radio stations as well as on numerous satellite and internet radio programs across the country, Canada and Alaska.

Bucher’s music and interviews have appeared on such programming as Native American Calling with Harlan McKasato, Rezervations with Dawn Karima, Native Trailblazers on BlogTalkRadio, Undercurrents and Earthsongs, Sirius Satellite radios’ Hand of Grandfather, AIROS’ American In