If the Eagles, Steve Earle, Dave Matthews and James Taylor had a lovechild, he would have grown into award-winning singer-songwriter, Tonemah. Tonemahs focus is on meaningful lyrics and singable tunes. His shows are full of depth, humor, storytelling engagement. They range from solo acoustic performances, to small trio or quartet, to full band shows, depending on the venue or festival.
Darryl Tonemah was raised on the wind swept plains of the American Midwest. If you didn't know that about him, you would have guessed as soon has you heard his music. His tone, style and stories evoke images of open plains and big skies. As a teen on the reservations of the Midwest the radio next to his bed picked up KFYR out of Bismarck North Dakota. It played the local news and farm reports as well as the singer/songwriters of the day. He grew up on a steady diet of Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, and Paul Simon. He stared at the radio and absorbed images set to music. He thought, "I bet I can do that". He borrowed his older brothers unused guitar and taught himself to play. Once he learned a few chords, he realized he needed to say something. He had always had a knack for melody, and found that he wasn't a bad poet. He told stories of people around the reservation, the thriving and struggling, and life both inside and outside of the reservation border. From the moment he put pen to paper and pick to strings he channeled the wisdom, humor, and connectedness of Will Rogers and other great storytellers.
A full-blooded Native American (Kiowa/Comanche/Tuscarora), living on and off reservations throughout the country has given him a unique perspective that is evident in his song writing. "We moved quite a bit when I was young, so I guess I'm part of a nomadic tribe. Up and down the Midwest, the southwest, and now back to my home Rez in the Northeast. For me it seems everywhere is a home game! All that travel offered many moments and people that inspired song ideas, lines, and characters that ended up on records."
He had no idea that when he began writing songs in his basement bedroom that years later, he would have played thousands of shows, made numerous radio and TV appearances, released 9 albums with multiple awards and nominations, all while building up what has become an international fan base. The characters in his songs search for faith and hope on their journeys resonated with a large audience. Despite his success Tonemah retains a deep connection with his roots and a gift for intimate storytelling that has become his trademark.
When recording he strives to ensure his songs are true to his vision of creating a heartfelt piece of music, touching on feelings and experiences inherent in everyone. Each recording maintains his unpretentious singing style, with honest lyrics. "It is a challenge trying to put everything I want to say or express into a 4 minute song. I think that it's important that each line is significant, like a movie short. In a movie short everything on screen has some symbolic value." Tonemah has received airplay in dozens of markets throughout the US, Canada, and Europe boosted by his song "Pow-wow Snag", and a review calling his cd
"Welcome to your Rainy Day"- a Masterpiece.
Tonemah's live shows whether with a full band of hardcore troubadours 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 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.
Tonemah says, "I enjoy the idea of expression in any way that connects people. I love everything that comes with the process of making music, from the spark of a song idea, to seeing what will happen as the song gets its legs, to recording it, but my favorite is playing it in front of an audience and making that connection during a show, that's why it all happens".
Run out of gas right here
Written By: Darryl Tonemah
I've been away for a long long time, I've found my way home
The road is rough, at least it long
And I've been riding for a while
I guess some branches never reach the river
So I ride another Mile
And now I sing
Its time I stop and stand
And bloom right where I am
Because you're near
It takes so much to drive away
There's so much to make me stay
And run out of gas right here
Like the branches of a dogwood tree
Or a tangled web of wheat
the coming and going
The leaving and knowing
Just where I want to be
Now I sing
A moment in December (2013)
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)
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!