VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – To those of you that enjoy down-home, hard-hitting blues, old country and rock and roll music that brings you to your feet, The Flying Feather Band has got what you want.
The band and all of its members are from the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. Among them is drummer and vocalist Richie Plass, a former member of the Wolf River Band. Their newest CD is titled “Back Home on the Rez with Boogie.”
Indian Country Today sat down with Plass to discuss their new independent release and his involvement with the group.
Indian Country Today: Can you tell ICT what type of music your group plays?
Richie Plass: Well, because we’re all so old, [laughs] we are really into the old-time band ’50s and ’60s type of stuff. You know, blues, old country, country and rock. Just the regular stuff they used to play back in the 1950s and ’60s.
ICT: You guys really seem to have a good time and enjoy what you’re doing.
Plass: Oh yeah, definitely. Just like I say, some people really enjoy needlepoint or other hobbies. I play in a band.
ICT: How did the Flying Feather Band get started?
Plass: I’d been living in Ohio for about three years. We moved to Wisconsin back to the rez and this guy calls me up. He told me he and his wife were having a housewarming and if we’d come play. I told him, “I haven’t played in quite a few years”; he told me to get some guys together and come on out.
So we go, we get our equipment set up, and we kind of looked at each other. I looked at everyone, and I said, “Now what do we do?” [Loud laughter]
ICT: Obviously, you kept playing after that.
Plass: Well, we said, “Hey, should we just keep on going?” Everyone said, “Yeah, why not?” That was 2002. We have a blast! We did something recently we haven’t done in years: we played a double gig. We played at a grand opening and drove to another gig: man, we were really tired! We were joking with each other and saying things like, “Let’s leave them double gigs to the younger guys!” [Laughs again]
ICT: So how have things been for the band since then?
Plass: We’ve got a great booking agent who gets us a lot of jobs. In 2006, we released “Lost in Nashville.” You know that old saying how Indians never get lost? Well, whenever we were in Nashville, we always got lost. We were doing our CD and decided to call it “Lost in Nashville.”
BR549 came and played on our recording; Bill Miller did flute on four of the songs.
ICT: “Lost in Nashville” has a great mixture of songs.
Plass: When we released that CD, we were interviewed by this one guy. He remarked that it was really kind of interesting to him that our band was made up of all Native Americans, and we were from the reservation. But right in the middle of our project we have the old Ventures song, “Pipeline.” He said he was confused and asked me why. I said, “Because we know our market.” We play a lot of reservations. The music that Indians like all over the country is old rock ’n’ roll and old country.
ICT: What did the interviewer say at that point?
Plass: He said, “Boy, I didn’t know that.” I said, “Yeah, and I’m not meaning to rip on you, but I know you wouldn’t know that because you’re not from the rez. You’re from here in the city.” We say, “It’s not a rip, but we really like playing for our own people or for reservations. No matter what community we go to, it’s always like being home.”
ICT: So what can you tell me about your new CD, “Back Home on the Rez with Boogie.”
Plass: Our new CD is actually a live recording. We did it in honor of one of our tribal elders, his nickname is Boogie. He is in his 70s; he plays the keyboards. He was the first person I’d ever seen perform live. It’s great stuff – it really is.
We’re just a band from the rez, and we have fun! I always tell people you need music and a smile. That’s the way I explain our music. If you want to have a good time, put in our CD.
To order or inquire about “Back Home on the Rez with Boogie,” e-mail email@example.com or write to 2542 Henisra Lane, Green Bay, WI 54304.