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Hello, Albuquerque! Red Earth Is Back -- and So Is the Electric 49

The Native rock band Red Earth is getting back together again to perform a gig with Casper this Friday in ABQ, amid the Gathering of Nations hubbub.

There is a special buzz being created for this year's Gathering of Nations. Red Earth, along with Casper and The Mighty 602 Band, will be bringing back the Electric 49 on Friday, April 24 at the Launchpad, in Albuquerque. 

"It's reunion time" says Ira Wilson, a founding member of the band. "We were formed in the mid 90s. We were touring all over the world, doing really cool shows and meeting really cool bands. Around 2006, life happened. We wanted to do different things outside of the band. Our musical tastes were changing. We never really broke up. Some of us just moved. Some of the guys wanted to be closer to home. Whatever it was, it just kind of took us in different directions. But we come back to the music. We come back to the Brotherhood of Red Earth. And, here we are in 2015, doing it again."

Ira Wilson of Red Earth. Photo by Jason Morgan Edwards.

The band actually started as the heavy metal band Ruination, but morphed and melded as different members pursued other genres, and new members were added. "There were four key members: Me, Adrian Wall, Charley Baca, and Jeff Duneman that became Red Earth," Wilson says. "We were kinda punky/reggae/metal. We added a horn section, and we started doing some slap funk. Then, Red Earth was really born." Wilson defines their sound as "Funky, phat Tribal stew—it's just like food, you know. You throw everything in the pot and let it simmer. Take a bite, and it tastes really good. That's how I describe our music, man. It's music that you sop up with a tortilla or a big piece of frybread. Something that makes us really proud is when fans come up and say 'you don't sound like anybody else.' If someone said we sound like 311 or Sublime or Metallica or whomever, that kinda defeats the purpose of being an artist."

Ira Wilson of Red Earth. Photo by Jason Morgan Edwards.

They last performed together in 2010 as part of JJ Otero's "Rock the 9" showcase, and not all of the original members will be available for this Friday's show. But a few of the core members, plus recent additions like Carli Marshall and Christian Orellana (The Peruvian Octopus), will be performing. The 2010 show, Wilson says, "was just for fun. There wasn't any more thinking about it. This reunion is a little different. We have a ton of music in the vault. Music that hasn't been released. We're putting songs online. We're working on trying to get that accomplished so that we can share with the world." The concept of the Electric 49 began as a showcase for Native bands that really didn't have a venue. "We weren't given a chance to shine," Wilson says. "Why aren't bands like the Cisco Band, who does like a chicken-scratch, heavy metal—you know, Tohono O'odham people love that chicken-scratch—why aren't they seen? So, we said we're going to find these bands and we're going to do a cool show with them. We brought on Casper, we brought Native Roots. We brought cool bands that no one had ever heard. Let's bring these bands in from everywhere. And, at some point, it grew legs of its own. It was its own 3-hour festival. That was the meat and potatoes of the Electric 49."

Casper. Photo by Jason Morgan Edwards.

On Friday, the whole night will belong to Red Earth and Casper. "Over the years, we've had a good few people in and out of the band. The invitation was extended to all of them to come. We're doing something really awesome with the sound. Music is the message."

Details for the event can be found at the Electric 49's Facebook page and Red Earth's official Facebook profile

Blast from the past: An Electric 49 poster from 2002. Image source: facebook.com/red.earth.rocks