Driving library bus the start of on-rez entertainment in Ontario

Determined to come home to Six Nations this summer; was my motivation to produce a homecoming show at the Sanderson Centre in Brantford, Ontario Thursday, July 27th with GF & the Troublemakers All Star Tour!

This July Trouble hits the road for 10 shows in Ontario and one US performance. Funny but most folks see me as the character actor, Uncle Brownie from Reservation Dogs or Dan Twelvetrees from SyFy Network’s “Resident Alien” these last few years.  But my pleasure has always been to make things happen.  I learned early in life that if you make people laugh or cry, you make them think.

Thinking back to my first produced show on Six Nations. It was 1975. That year I partnered with the Six Nations Fall Fair board and simply added a huge blue and white circus tent on the other side of the ball field and had a small platform stage for day time performances by Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, Tom Jackson, Willie Dunn, Curtis “Shingoose” Jonnie, Colleen Loucks and Paul Ritchie.  In retrospect, that is one historic line-up for the 1975 Six Nations Fall Fair in Ohsweken.

At the back side of the small performance tent I had orchestrated a small visual art show of the now national treasure, the late Arthur Shilling.  I had met Arthur up in the Rama Reserve in the early 70’s, as I used to operate the Woodland Indian Cultural and Educational Centre Audio Visual and Library bus slash RV.

Back in the day,  I would drive that bus to native communities in Southern Ontario.  Folks could watch native educational documentaries, lots of National Film Board material, some early Haudenosaunee footage not afforded to us today and some pretty funny narrative material Woodland had purchased. Believe me, content from a native point of view was non-existent in 1973. Books with some poetry, Pauline Johnson of course, fiction and non-fiction of the day—there was not a lot being published then, certainly nothing like the explosion of native literature today.  It was the best job ever before the pressure of being a professional actor.

As a young person, I greatly admired the artistry of Arthur Shilling, his broad stroked oil  paintings of our natural wilderness in Anishnawbe territories in central Ontario and amazing portraits of his own Ojibway people and family.  Looking back it was amazing to have the cooperation of the Beckett Gallery in Hamilton to loan out Arthur Shilling’s priceless work to display on a dirt floor in our Fall Fair blue and white rental tent.  But we were an upstart arts organization, Project Circle Theatre, attempting to encourage a performance space for our artists here on the Six Nations along the Grand River in 1975.

One of my favourite moments of those Fall Fair performances was Floyd Westerman doing the main stage show just ahead of the race track and singing his hit.  “Custer Died for Your Sins”.  Floyd became a dear friend and eventually an actor like me.  He was “Ten Bears” in “Dances with Wolves” and always thanked the film business for giving him back his Dakota language after it being beaten away in residential school.  I referred to Floyd as Grandpa AIM much of my adult life.  He attended residential school with Dennis Banks in Minnesota.

Looking back after turning 70 years old in 2023, I’m confident that’s when I became a full time troublemaker.  Taking troublemaking or producing to a whole new level– but I am happy to continue to produce work in all spaces for your listening, possibly dancing  entertainment.  Please join me at 8 pm, Thursday, July 27th, 2023 with fellow Troublemakers, Two time Juno winner, Derek Miller, Toronto Jazz Festival’s Blues Artist of the Year, Brock Stonefish, North Carolina powerhouse Tuscarora/Lumbee sensation, Charly Lowry, Alt Country artist from Tucson, AZ, Howe Gelb, with drummer Michel Bryere and bassman Ritchie Franzen for one night only with playwright and wise guy lyricist, Cliff Cardinal and the Sky-Larks opening the night of fun fun fun.

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