This month, Bluedog will be one of four bands competing in the final round of Battle of the Blues Bands on April 7th (4:30-7:30 pm) at Famous Dave’s BBQ and Blues Uptown in Minneapolis. Bluedog was one of sixteen bands originally competing to open for national act Tommy Castro and the Painkillers at their June 8 concert at Famous Dave’s in Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis-based band has also been nominated for Group of the Year and Best Rock Recording of the Year for their most recent album, Just Living The Blues, in this year’s Native American Music Awards (NAMAs). This marks the seventh NAMA nomination the group has received since 2005 when they recorded their debut album, From All Directions. Bluedog was voted Group of the Year in the 2010 NAMAs.
Eric (Ponca), Chair and Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at Augsburg College, and Joni Buffalohead (Dakota), Director of Operations at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, co-founded Bluedog in 2001. They wanted an artistic outlet so Joni could sing and Eric could write his own music on the guitar.
“I was playing in another band and wanted to go in a different direction other than just playing other people’s music,” said Eric. “And I wanted to work with Joni singing, so those were some of the motivating factors.”
Along with Eric on lead guitar and Joni performing lead vocals, the band is comprised of the couple’s daughter, Alexandra Buffalohead (Dakota), on backing vocals, keyboard, and organ; Tom Suess, a childhood friend of Eric’s, on bass and backing vocals; Bob Simons (Dakota/Assiniboine) on drums; and Chuck Davis (Lakota), who sits in occasionally as part of the group on percussion. All but two members of the group are relatives, giving the band a close-knit stage presence.
“We’re a family band, and there’s not that many Indian bands playing blues rock music originals,” said Joni. “I like to educate people – they might not know anything about Indian people behind the music, so it’s a way to record history.”
Many of Bluedog’s songs are inspired by the historical and present-day struggles of Native American people.