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“Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” earns plenty of praise

HOLLYWOOD – Accolades continue to pile up for the Native American music documentary “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.”

After the showing of “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” on opening night of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, a Q&A session is held with, from left, guitarist and executive producer Stevie Salas, actor Graham Greene, producer Christina Fon and Hollywood Councilman Chris Osceola on Nov. 3, 2017 at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. (Kevin Johnson)

The film, which will be shown Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. during the Seminole Tribal Fair and Pow Wow at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, delves into the significant impact indigenous icons Link Wray (Shawnee), Randy Castillo (Apache), Jesse Ed Davis (Comanche/Kiowa) and others have had on the industry and fellow musicians.

The showing will be followed by a Q&A session featuring producer Christina Fon, executive producer Stevie Salas (Apache) and Taboo (Shoshone) from the Black Eyed Peas. Salas and Taboo appear in the film.

Directed by Catherine Bainbridge, the film has had showings throughout North America and overseas, including Austria, Estonia, France, India, Italy, Germany and Sweden. It garnered immediate attention thanks to its world premiere in early 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival, where it earned the Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling.

The praise hasn’t ceased for a film that describes itself as “the untold story of the Native American influence on blues, jazz, folk, rock, pop and heavy metal.”

The “Rumble” mantelshelf includes Boulder International Film Festival’s Best Music Documentary, Hot Docs’ Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary and Favorite Feature, and the Audience Award from the Biografilm Festival. It was also nominated for a Critics Choice Documentary Awards for best music documentary and in the Music Movies Competition at the Cleveland International Film Festival. The film even made it onto an early Academy Award documentary list for potential nominations.

“Rumble” has also received a healthy heap of positive reviews, including from The New York Times.

“If you couldn’t name two Native American musicians at the beginning of the documentary, you’ll remember at least a half-dozen after the end. And it’s a good bet you’ll be searching for their albums, too,” Times critic Ken Jaworowski wrote last summer.

From Wray’s instrumental guitar smash hit titled “Rumble” in 1958 emerged a sound that brought to music a new level of being cool, looking cool and sounding cool.

“’Rumble’ had the power to help me say … ‘I’m going to be a musician,’” Iggy Pop said in the documentary.

The film’s profiles include the triumphs and tragedies of Randy Castillo – drummer for Ozzy Osbourne and later for Motley Crue – and Jesse Ed Davis, who, among many accomplishments, played guitar in Jackson Browne’s hit “Doctor My Eyes.”

“Rumble,” the film, pays homage to Natives throughout the musical spectrum, including the jazz singing of Mildred Bailey (Coeur d’Alene), whose music from the 1930s and 40s caught the attention of a young Tony Bennett.

“From 16 to 20 years old, that’s the only thing I listened to was Mildred Bailey. I just said I wanted to learn to sing like her,” Tony Bennett said in the film.

Dozens of other stars appear in interviews, including Jackson Browne, Buddy Guy, Martin Scorsese, Steven Tyler and Steven Van Zandt.

The Seminole Tribe and Hard Rock helped “Rumble” become a reality, something the producers gratefully acknowledged during a Q&A session with audience members after the documentary opened the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in November at Hard Rock Live.

“A huge thank you to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and [Hollywood Councilman] Chris Osceola and everyone at Hard Rock because we couldn’t have finished the film without them. They were amazing supporters,” Fon told the audience at the November showing.

The combination of Native Americans and rock ‘n roll proved to be a natural fit for the Tribe and Hard Rock to get involved, which occurred toward the later stages of production.

“It only makes sense that if you’re talking about Indians who rock the world, we’ve got to be in there, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has to be in there,” Councilman Osceola said at the showing.

Councilman Osceola said Hard Rock International Chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen was shown the film during the editing phase and wanted to get on board.

“How can we be a part of this and how can we help make sure this thing gets across the finish line,” Councilman Osceola said.

“It was a crucial time for us because we needed a little help, but I want to make it a point that we did not go like a lot of people with our hand out; we tried to make this a legitimate thing and we’re very thankful,” Salas said.

Salas was a driving force behind the creation of the film, which took four years to complete. He didn’t grow up on a reservation, but rather in San Diego where he rode surfboards and played guitars. As his own music career began to flourish – including playing on tour alongside Rod Stewart – Salas said he became more aware about the pivotal role his fellow Native Americans played in music and their impact on non-Native stars. He wanted the rest of the world to know, too.

“We never knew Native American people had a place at the table for the development of the music that we all listen to to this day,” Salas said.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at

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