|Photo by Bruce Haley|
In 2000 Nanji and Indigenous fielded a timely break when B.B. King caught their act and invited them immediately on his Blues Festival Tour, which is known for welcoming newcomers as well as veterans. Nanji got to see Tower of Power, Buddy Guy, and Taj Mahal practice their craft nightly.
“That was a very cool experience,” Nanji said. “It was an honor to get out of the gates and play with these people so soon.”
In 2002 Nanji was hired to play guitar on the Experience Hendrix Tour, an all-star tribute celebrating the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix. Nanji performed nightly alongside David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, Billy Cox from the Band of Gypsys, Jonny Lang, and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith.
“I’ve been with the Experience Hendrix tour since the beginning when they were doing just one-off shows here and there,” Nanji said. “They do a tour every year now, about 20 dates or so. I’m also on a DVD they put together in 2004. I think they’re planning another tour for 2014 so I’m looking forward to that."
Nanji lives every guitar player’s dream when he performs ‘Little Wing’ on stage. He says one of his favorites to do live is ‘Hear My Train a Coming.’
“I would get up and back up Billy Cox when they do ‘Stone Free,’” Nanji said of the Hendrix Experience. “It’s really cool, it’s really open. I have the opportunity to play ‘Manic Depression’ with Robbie Krieger (The Doors) and Dweezil Zappa. I enjoy that a lot.”
Nanji grew up in sparsely populated South Dakota where few blues performers ever rolled through town. But many American Indian households contained varied and interesting record collections and this is where Nanji was exposed to the rock and pop sounds of the 1970s. His Dad was a musician who showed him the way around a guitar. He also was influenced by the soul and rhythm and blues LPs in the house.
When not on the Hendrix tour Nanji stays busy with Indigenous. He says they might get to do some festivals in Europe in 2014.
“We’re starting to break a little ground over there, I think,” Nanji said with a laugh. “We’ve been trying to get our music out over there.”
The Indigenous and Jonny Lang tour arrives November 9 in Kalamazoo at the State Theatre. Lang and Nanji have a friendship that dates back before the Hendrix shows.
“I’ve known Jonny on and off for a long time,” Nanji said. “I actually met him when he was about sixteen. He’s from Fargo ND which is north of here, and we've known each other from the Minneapolis music scene. He’s been real good to my band. We’ve always had opportunities to play together and tour.”
Jonny Lang wsg Indigenous, 8 pm, November 9, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St, Kalamazoo MI 49001
More info at www.kazoostate.com