Spellbinding Lakota Spirit

Kevin Locke - Earth Gift
Kevin Locke – Earth Gift
Kevin Locke

Earth Gift (Ixtlan Recording Consortium, 2008)

Finding sanctuary from the daily grind became a whole lot easier with Kevin Locke’s latest CD Earth Gift. Drawing inspiration from his own Lakota traditions on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and a global vision of tribal musical traditions, Mr. Locke, known by his Lakota name Tokaheya Inajin or The First to Arise, creates a spectacular meditative space out of song on Earth Gift that is profoundly spiritual and richly wrought. A revered Hoop Dancer, flute player, storyteller, cultural ambassador, teacher and musician, Mr. Locke uses his considerable artistry on Earth Gift to soothe, lull and entrance the listener with a Lakota musical salve that simply exudes serenity. With a recording career that includes The First Flute, Dream Catcher, Open Circle and Midnight Strong Heart, Mr. Locke again lures the listener back to the song of nature, reminding us, “Everything is brought into the Earth by song.”

Opening with the dry, husking sound of rattles, the gentle vocals of Doug Good Feather, Mr. Locke on Native flute and Tom Wasinger on native drum, percussion and Ebow slide guitar, “Walk Against the Wind” holds the listener spellbound. The persistent rumble of rhythm laid down on “At First Light” provides the perfect backdrop to flute and big sky vocals of Mr. Locke and the eerie shimmer of the slide mouth bow by Mr. Wasinger.

Earth Gift offers up some unexpected surprises like the pianolin and nail violin against a heartbeat rhythm on “Buffalo Said to Me” or the raft zither, guitar harmonics and udu on the mesmerizing “What the Eagle Sees.” The rich and power vocals on “I Sing for the Animals” provided by Doug Good Feather and Gracie RedShirt Tyon pack a powerful punch; so much so that my two sleeping cats woke up to listen to the track.

The bright elegance of “Muskrat” crafted by Mr. Locke’s flute and Mr. Wasinger’s drum and zither cut a clear path the same way a ray of sun blazes through the trees. Camille Wasinger offers her ethereal vocals to “Clouds Gather,” making the track soar against that lonely sounding flute. Title track “Earth Gift” and “When Thunder Calls” are equally astonishing with flute, rich vocals and cimbalom by Mr. Wasinger.

The music on Earth Gift is spare and simple, but hardly simplistic. While the music feeds on the earth-rich sounds and the time-honored traditions of Lakota music, this CD breathes with sparkle of ingenious instrumentation and artistic mastery. This music is indeed a precious gift.

Buy the CD: Earth Gift

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.


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