Review: 'That Ole Sofkee Spoon,' Lisa LaRue and John 'Yafke' Timothy

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CHEWEY, Okla. - The inspiration was born when newcomer John Timothy forgot his bottleneck guitar slide and had to improvise with a piece Alabama rivercane left over from one of his handmade flutes. "We were thinking about how it sounded like several old guys out on a front porch ? and we thought about the fact that they would be sitting out with a bucket of sofkee," said veteran keyboardist and composer Lisa LaRue, Cherokee, in a Dec. 17 interview with Indian Country Today.

La Rue continued, "Sofkee is a traditional Muscogee drink made from corn and there are very unique spoons used for it. Listening to the song, with the picture that seemed to come from both of our minds, just brought into my mind 'That Ole' Sofkee Spoon.' It clicked."

LaRue teamed up with John Timothy, Muscogee, to release an album last August entitled "That Ole Sofkee Spoon," (Fingerwoven Productions). While the recording strives to be jazzy rhythm and blues, the heavy use of keyboards weights its classification towards New Age.

"I don't necessarily like the New Age label, but because it's so much keyboards and instrumental, that's where they catalog it. As far as Jazz, I LOVE Jazz," said LaRue

When LaRue was asked how she would respond to the accusation that New Age music belongs on elevators, she parried, "There are billions of elevators in this world!"

Timothy is new to the recording business but not exactly unheard of. He was a featured flutist for QVC and was one of 15 chosen to attend the Smithsonian Institution's Native American Leadership Seminar. Timothy is also the director of the Ataloa Lodge Museum at Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla.

"I loved working with John. [We] met shortly after the 1995 release of "Beloved Tribal Women," (SOAR). He recognized my name and wanted to play the flute for me. After he played a piece, he smiled and asked, 'Did you recognize that? It's off your CD.' I knew then, if he was already learning my material, we could work together," said LaRue. "It took several years, but it finally happened. I now consider him my close friend. He's seen me through lots of tough times."

LaRue has several successful albums under her belt. She and Anne Huckabe, LaRue's Clan Mother, received a 2002 Native American Music Award nomination for Best Historical Recording for "Children's Songs in the Cherokee Language," 2001 (Cherokee Nation). LaRue composed the music while Huckabe provided translations.

She has also recently completed recording the music for a video game entitled "Cherokee Trails," by Pharos Games. The game parallels the trek of the Cherokee Nation across 19th century America. LaRue enjoyed composing for the game because "You have to evoke emotions in about 10 or 15 second snippets. It was a great project, because the game is very educational but yet very close to my heart. The emotions weren't hard to evoke because I thought of my own family and knew how they probably felt." A demo version of "Cherokee Trails" is available for download at www.pharosgames.com/cherokee/

Regarding her plans for the future LaRue said, "I love all the projects I have done, but have plans to do many other recordings. Today's technology allows us to record and master economically, and have small numbers replicated, or even allow people to purchase the virtual CD and download it and burn it themselves. I will probably do more of that."

LaRue keeps very busy with her career as a literature review coordinator for the Cherokee Nation's Cultural Resource Center in Tahlequah, Okla. She plans on a few tour dates to promote "That Ole Sofkee Spoon," but adds "I love to work in my studio, write, play but all here in the hills. My husband is a ceremonial chief and we have lots of responsibilities. One of the nice things technology has brought to us is it allows us to work globally from our homelands."

To learn more about Lisa LaRue's other albums visit www.lisalarue.com, write to HC 66, Box 21-1, Proctor, Okla. 74457 or phone (918) 723-5244.