Fearing racist backlash as an artist was common in the past and many indigenous artists hid or down-played their ancestry.
So, diving into a different era of being native: Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World is the documentary that allowed Montreal-based Filmmakers Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana to take home the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling at the Sundance Film Festival.
This film was recognized as one of the top 10 films that “dazzled at the festival”.
But within the film, artist Link Wray inspired many guitarists with his power chords from 1958’s banned-by-radio “Rumble”, but not many were aware of his Shawnee ancestry. No better name could have been chosen for the documentary that recognizes other artists that did the same.
“Be proud you are Indian; but be careful who you tell,” was the advice given to guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson. In the film, Robertson shares memories of the time he spent with his mother’s family on Six Nations and in the Brantford area.
But, along with Robertson, the film contains other artists such as 1920’s Delta Bluesman Charley Patton, Guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, Legend of Rock Jimi Hendrix, “Queen of Swing” Mildred Bailey and more.
What is quite interesting is that the artists agreed to be a part of the film not only because of their heritage or backgrounds, but their friendship with the film’s executive producer Stevie Salas.
Known as a guitarist himself, Salas didn’t realize just how many indigenous musicians there were until he sat down to be interviewed by Canadian Writer Brian Wright-MacLeod for his piece The Encyclopedia of Native Music in 2004.
With the help of powerful performances and archival footage; artists such as George Clinton, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and Iggy Pop acknowledge indigenous artists as influences in their work.
If you’d like to check it out, the film is set to premier on the Movie Network later this year.