Native Lab
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Native Lab

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"Classical Native"

On Friday night, November 14th, at the American Museum of Natural History here in the NYC the Margaret Mead Film Festival began it’s program with a screening of a restored print of controversial photographer Edward S Curtis’ In the Land of the Head Hunters. The film was accompanied by an all-indigenous live orchestra put together by violinist, Laura Ortman.
A slide show and opening presentation by the descendants of the original cast preceded the screening. It was quite touching to hear the positive words of the current chief of the Kwakwakaa’wakw people who were Curtis’ collaborators in the film. He expressed gratitude for the film’s resurrection and the exhibition to a near capacity crowd in New York City. I was surprised to hear him say as much considering many believe, myself included, that Curtis’ work with the native people of North America was exploitative. However if you could see your great great uncle when he was a young strappin’ man dancing around a prayer fire in a vintage print, even if a jingoistic quasi-racist white man made it, I guess you’d have a different opinion.
As an interested observer, especially of narrative tropes in film history, I was surprised to see that the essential plot of Curtis’ film was “Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl, Boy loses Girl, Boy gets Girl in the end.” What we have here is the first iteration of a chick flick, but with an all Indian cast. Though Curtis’ photographic works have always been viewed as documentarian he never intended to make a documentary film, but rather a narrative that would stand out in the glutted market of the “Indian Pictures” popular at the time. He sought to do so by promoting his film as “more authentic” by dint of the on location shoot and the all-Native cast. Though critically praised at the time it was a commercial flop. I guess we had to wait for Kevin Costner to give us Dances with Wolves before any film boasting an authentic Indian location and cast could be commercially viable?
The score is of special interest because it is evocative of the time when a live orchestra played along with the film. This particular score, produced by John J Braham - an Englishman closely associated with vaudeville and Gilbert and Sullivan operas, was supposed to have been directly influenced by Kwakwaka’wakw music. Trust me it wasn’t. It was amusingly vaudevillian, at times laughable, but for the improvised indigenous and percussive elements added by the all Native orchestra. I spoke with a few of the members afterwards. Saxophonist, Vince Redhouse, told me he thought at times he was playing to cartoon episode of Mighty Mouse instead of a landmark silent film. In all fairness the original score was missing key musical elements (e.g. the conductor’s score) therefore matching the score to what is in fact an incomplete film (stills from an unearth second print were added to fill out the more complete, but damaged version) is somewhat impossible and entirely dependent on the conductor’s interpretation. And, that brings us to the Coast Orchestra.
Timothy Long (Choctaw/ Creek), conductor
Steven Alvarez (Mescalero Apache/Yaqui /Athabascan), percussion
Tim Archambault (Kichesipirini), Native flute
Dawn Avery (Mohawk), cello
Elaine Benavides (Mescalero Apache/Yaqui /Comanche), oboe
Don Harry (Delaware/Anadarko of Oklahoma), tuba
Lisa Long (Muskogee /Creek-Choctaw), flute
Laura Ortman (White Mountain Apache), violin
George Quincy (Choctaw), piano
Vince Redhouse (Navajo), saxophone
Heidi Senungetuk (Inupiat), violin - NAICA

"Coast Orchestra"

Common Groundat the Movies

""What's The T ?"

It's Elaine Benavides singing live operatic improv over myself spinning dark, hard funky-house beats. We also have an original brand new single, "What's The T ? ... by David J. Haskins (Bauhaus/Love&Rockets/Tones on Tail/The Jazz Butcher). .... (without sound) that contained a triology song 50 minutes long - Die J! mars

"Rise NYC"


“Rise NYC, THE band.” – Flaunt Magazine (Issue #83) with cameo pics from Pat Field’s
birthday party.

“One of the top 10 bands from USA” – Gazelland Magazine (Issue #3) with cameo spread

“As fresh as it gets. Rise NYC herald from the New York underground.”

-Electronic PM (London)

“Oh so cool electroclash rock crossover” – Miss Kitty of

“Darkly lit…” – Laute de

“Talented newcomer. Inspiring” – The Electrifikant

“Beautiful and reflective sounds that will attract diverse listeners of indie rock,
electronica, and electro.” – Larry Tee (

“Very well produced and performed and, perhaps more importantly, filled to the brim
with irresistable hooks, emotion, and energy, Rise NYC’s Mise en Scène is, simply
put, spectacular.” – Joshua Heinrich (Graveconcernszine)

“Complex Trax” – The Gullbuy

“he (Die J! Mars) is doing his best to enliven the city’s (NYC) deperessed dance
music scene… Rise NYC” – Martin Johnson (Newsday)

“You guys ROCKED. You are all so talented. You’ll go far!” – Formika, promoter

“I loved it (Mise en Scène by Rise NYC)” – Bebe Neuwirth, actress

“It’s very good (Mise en Scène)” – Tom Silverman, Tommy Boy Records - Rise NYC


1. remix (David J of Bauhaus /bass ) "whats the T"
Elaine Benavides, vocals Real Cool Time (Iggy Pop and the Stooges)
11. Horror film mole end credits.



My Shows performed usually for private events, festivals, cultural city festivals ,Museums of Art, Saint John the Divine, The Chashama Oasis Festival, Native American community house, The Smithsonian for the American Indian in NY,DC., NYC schools k-12, and local colleges and universities workshops to children and adults alike.

As I meant to state earlier, Be sure to check out my other projects, such as Binary Starr System . I will have a new edited version of a music video out called "What's Da T? it was originally remixed by (David J's called “a Dub Science Remix") The video was shot by and, Directed by Elaine Benavides & legendary filmmaker, Anton Perich.