Out on the road, you turn the music up over wind whistling through the windows. A song of resistance, despair and hope comes on, one with a catchy guitar bridge so beautiful you don't want it to end. The lyrics pull your heartstrings from happy to sad and back again: it's Bobby Bullet.
His songs elevate life to the level of art in the tradition of fellow artists Johnny Cash, Neil Young and Hank Williams. Sometimes what we most need to discuss, we don't dare. He does. Using traditional teasing, gentle humor and firm resolve Chippewa perspectives are heard, he sings stories about small pox blankets, troubled youth and the ironies of being a folk artist in the 21st century.
In celebration of the country western and folk anthems he has composed and sung for 50 years, the Native American Music Awards honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. His latest release, "Crooked Tear," features blues-driven new works like "Trail of Broken Treaties" and "The Devil's Mouth," and re-mastered versions of well-loved songs previously unavailable in the digital age, like "The Train" and "Hang On." In 2013, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation awarded an NACF Music Fellowship to Bobby Bullet (Chippewa) to support his work on the next album.
Inspired by his community, Bobby listens to the stories of others and notices the plight of people around him. With the support of an NACF fellowship, he has been able to travel to collect video oral history interviews with tribal elders to inspire songs and a companion DVD that speak to the history, people and current issues of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. "My music is another way that I help my people and through my music I’ve been able to give back to my community,” explained Bobby.
When the songs come to him, he writes in his home studio and reaches out to the right collaborators to help him tell and perform this story, like the singer and saxophonist to be featured on the final mix of his new song "Marilyn."
Thank you to Bobby Bullet and his wife Pamela Nesbit, for sharing three of the new songs on the forthcoming album with NACF staff and Board of Directors in St. Paul, Minn. earlier this month! The songs about treaty-negotiated fishing rights, the plight of missing Native women and good ole-fashioned heartbreak are moving, poignant and inspiring.
To hear of the new album and upcoming shows, visit: http://www.bobbybullet.com. Thank you to all who have donated in support of this great work: let's keep the creative spirit alive!