Summer in the CityRed Elk

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Thursday / June 7, 2018 / 5:00 p.m.
Kendall Plaza
2 Cambridge Center
United States
Josiah Contreras of Red Elk
Image courtesy of the artist

Armed with his bass and voice, Josiah Contreras, a.k.a. Red Elk, plays what he calls “Native soul,” combining modern groove-based styles (funk, soul, folk, and rock) with elements of Native American music (rhythms, chants, flutes, and percussion).

Red Elk draws inspiration from artists such as Victor Wooten, A Tribe Called Red, R. Carlos Nakai, and Nahko and Medicine for the People. He creates groove-based, enjoyable music that expresses his passion while reiterating the message of indigenous people.

Contreras has long had a passion for Native American culture and history. Born with indigenous lineage, and growing up in Denver, Colorado, he was enthralled by the history of Indians fighting for their lands for more than 500 years. In high school, he learned wilderness survival, old legends and songs, and philosophies from members of the Navajo, Mohawk, and Pueblo Nations.

It wasn’t until 2016 that these influences manifested in his music. After studying at Berklee College of Music for nearly three years, Contreras witnessed indigenous people fighting a new battle—against oil corporations and operations, such as the Dakota Access Pipeline. Wanting to join the fight, he began writing music inspired by his heritage and passion for its history and culture.

The result of his compositions is the musical act Red Elk.