Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana
starring Buffy Sainte-Marie, Link Wray, George Clinton, David Fricke, Jimi Hendrix
Everyone acknowledges the influence of black music on rock and roll, this documentary peels back another layer and shows how black music derived many of its rhythms and structures form Native American Indian chants, dances and other auditory rituals. Starting with Link Wray, the movie takes us through the history, back grounds and stories of many of these most native of all Americans including Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jimi Hendrix, The Neville Brothers, Robbie Robertson, and the list goes on. Each artist gets a profile: we learn Link Wray introduced fuzz guitar to the early surf rock sound, Buffy Sainte-Marie became a folk singer accidentally, and Hendrix used Native rhythmic structures as did early bluesmen like Charlie Patton, and we learn many Native American listed themselves as “Negro” since slaves were better regarded then they.
The story is eye opening, but a question lingers: We clearly see that rhythms of early blues musicians derived at least in part from Native sources, what’s not clear is if those African sources also modulated the native voices. There’s some good music here, some great rock and roll history, and some surprising history along the way. It also a bit long, somewhere around the Neville Brothers I was ready to wrap up. It’s not that the subsequent musicians weren’t important, but the point had been made: Native sources are a significant base for our modern ear.
This film was presented as part of the Florida Film Festival