Every now and then a young guitar player comes along with the promise of being the next Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. The arrival of Native American guitarist Mato Nanji may mean the wait for a new rock superstar is over.
When his group Indigenous disbanded, founder Mato Nanji could easily have called it quits. Instead, he rose to the occasion and assembled a new group under the same name. What's different about Indigenous this time around? For one thing, Mato Nanji is putting all of his efforts into going solo.
Mato Nanji, meaning Standing Bear, set his sights high when he first learned to play the guitar. Raised as a member of the Nakota Sioux Nation on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Mato embraced the music of Carlos Santana, B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix. His mother and father, who introduced him and his siblings to early rock and blues, also influenced him.
Mato says he never thought about doing anything else, that music was always in his blood. His passion for playing guitar, which some have described as sounding like "Pearl Jam meets Stevie Ray Vaughan," led Mato to form Indigenous with his brother, sister and cousin. In 1997, they were invited to perform on the benefit CD, Honor. Two years later, Indigenous released their debut album, Things We Do.
Indigenous had a good run before falling victim to inner conflict among its band members. After three successful albums, steady radio and video airplay, and cross-country tours, including festivals and casinos, the members of the quartet went their separate ways.
Far from being just another casualty of rock 'n' roll excess, Mato Nanji focused primarily on his singing and songwriting, and recently returned to the spotlight with a new album, Chasing The Sun.
Still, it's Mato's fiery guitar work, reminiscent of blues great Albert King, fans flock to hear.