Gary Small and his band, The Coyote Brothers, have been around for a number of years and have built the kind of following that comes with hard work, lots of gigging and a sound that appeals to people. Hailing from Wyoming, Gary is proud of his heritage as a member of the Cheyenne tribe and his appeal goes far beyond his many Native-American fans. He is a three time winner of a NAMMY (Native American Music Association awards), including the 2011 Male Artist award, 2007 as Best Rock Recording and 2002 as Songwriter of the Year, all well-deserved!
His latest CD, Hostiles & Renegades, presents both a step forward and a return to roots for Gary. His guitar playing is again set off by his vocal presence in the music, which has a reggae beat that reminds me of the years I spent in the New Orleans music scene……part Caribbean, but with a New Orleans-styled pace that gets your feet tapping. Yes, there is the similarity in guitar style at times to Carlos Santana that is unmistakable, but this is no surprise to anyone who has followed Gary’s career. After all, his first CD included ex-Santana drummer, Graham Lear. There are no apologies here for any similarities. Gary is his own man and marches to his own passionate drumbeat.
The Coyote Brothers, also Native-Americans, are a talented group who give solid performances on their respective instruments. The “Brothers” are a great match for Gary’s frontman status, giving backbone and life to his original compositions. The band is a showcase for keeping the groove fresh and allowing Gary a foundation that is both intricate at time and intense when the song calls for same.
Gary is a talented guitar player who feels no need to shred in order to make his presence known. Licks are tasteful and move to the foreground of his songs, presenting a perfect offset to his vocals. You’re not going to hear a Sinatra vocal here. Gary’s voice is distinctly different enough to defy plugging it into any particular genre. There is no copycat in his singing. Rather it is his own distinctive style that allows you to sit back and actually listen to the lyrics. Winning the Nammy for Best Songwriter was no fluke. This artist treasures his roots and culture in his music and the listener, especially anyone who has an understanding of life as a Native-American, quickly realizes that one does not have to play three chord progressions to capture the spirit of what developed into the blues. The songs are about real life, often spun with humor, and focus on the trials and tribulations of his culture.
Hostiles & Renegades has kept me listening for the past week. This fact is the best recommendation I can make for any CD. It engages me and I hear new things that I somehow missed before each time I listen. Best of all, it puts me in a great mood with each spin of the silver disc, which is something I wish would happen for me with more recordings. Very highly recommended. This CD can be purchased through CDBaby, as can his previous recordings. Go for it!