Larry Mitchell is a Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer and performer who has toured the world playing guitar with well-known Native artists such as Robert Mirabal (aka Johnny Whitehorse), Shelley Morningsong, Joy Harjo, Ellis Hooks and many others. He recently released his eighth solo album, The Traveler, which debuted #2 on Amazon.com in the Blues/Rock category, and #17 in new releases. The release was accompanied by a world premier music video, directed by Lynn Marie Rusaw, that was screened during the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience (AFME).
"I'm very happy about the progress of [the sales]. I did an interesting thing...how not to, but to, promote a record." Mitchell says, chuckling. “I released The Traveler in February, and the next day I left the country on tour. I came back, and it was actually #2 for a couple of weeks in a row. "That's what you do. You leave the country and don't do any promotion. You come back and it's actually doing well."
Mitchell says the record has "some bluesy-rock on it. It has a couple of acoustic pieces. It's my favorite record. It's right in the vibe of where I'm at right now. I wasn't afraid to put a variety of different things on it." Mitchell derives his inspiration from personal experiences. Though he doesn't sing, he regales audiences at his live shows with personal anecdotes and many more warm smiles. "My music comes from my surroundings, my environment – things that happen to me; things I notice. I've been touring and producing and playing with Native American artists over the last 15 years. I've been to lots of reservations around the country. I've even been on the Mohawk Reservation in Canada. And, [with] the Maori in New Zealand.
"After a while, certain things start to ring out. Tribes are all different. Yet, some qualities and things are universal. One of the things that I noticed was the celebration of life, almost in a [New Orleans-style manner]. The people were remembering all the good stuff. They were celebrating the lives of friends and family that had passed away. I think it was probably after about 10 trips that it just hit me. A lot of the music comes from whatever's on my mind [at that moment]. If I sit down and just play guitar without any agenda. I'm not practicing for the show. I'm not doing a sound-check. I'm just relaxed and I'm playing guitar. I used a sound effect called ‘crystals.’ A lot of people think it sounds angel-like or ghostly kind of thing. And, that's what it reminds me of."
Even though Mitchell was born and raised in Brooklyn, he does have Southern and Native roots. His mother's people are from Alabama. "There's a smidgen of Creek. My mom has a picture of her mother in full Native regalia. Not for show, it's just the way it was. If you saw my grandmother and [her] sisters, you'd say, 'Oh, there's something going on there.' So, we have some [Native heritage]. I've played with Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek). Where I live, and where my family is from in Opelika, Alabama, Joy's grandfather, Menawe, fought [in the Creek War of 1813]. And, that's where my family is from."
Mitchell won a Grammy in 2007 for his production and engineering of Johnny Whitehorse's (Taos Pueblo) album, Totemic Flute Chants, on which he also played. He's also produced recordings for Dawn Avery (Mohawk), among other Native artists. And, he's won nearly 30 New Mexico Music Awards. He has also worked as producer, engineer or musician for such notable musicians as Tracy Chapman, Billy Squier, Ric Ocasek and Miguel Bosé.
In his original compositions, Mitchell skillfully weaves guitar textures that showcase his virtuosity as a solo artist and ensemble player. He is currently touring in support of The Traveler. His music is available through a wide range of outlets. New tour dates and contact information is available at: larrymitchell.com.