PEMBROKE — For 16-year-old blues singer Lakota John Locklear and his band, history is everything and by extension, so is family, which is why their debut LP serves as a celebration of both.
The 13-track release, titled “Lakota John and Kin,” contains an eclectic mix of classic string-band blues songs, traditional Native tunes, jazzy gospel covers and an original track called “The New Orleans Town Rag.”
Locklear’s band, the appropriately named “Kin,” is quite literally his family. His older sister Layla Locklear serves as fiddler and vocalist, his mother Tonya Locklear plays washboard, his father John “Sweet Papa” Locklear plays guitar, harmonica and provides vocals and finally Lakota himself plays guitar, kazoo, American Indian flute and serves as lead vocalist.
“My mother, she was taught when she was younger, she played piano, my sister started on the violin and she was always singing and my dad’s brother, he plays and my dad plays a little bit as well. I started out on a harmonica, and picked up the guitar later,” Lakota said. “One day we just started working up some tunes together.”
Those tunes soon developed into a full-length album, thanks in large part to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who create it.
“Music Maker has a wonderful mission, not only in preserving the music but offering assistance to the elder musicians who have very limited incomes,” said Tonya Locklear. “They give them a hand up to record CDs and book gigs for the ones who are still interested in playing music to help them have more income to meet their basic needs, like heat, medicine [and] groceries.”
As part of the Hillsborough-based foundation’s mission, Music Maker has taken an active interest in supporting what its considers the “next generation” of young artists who will continue the traditions of classic Southern music, by helping to produce and promote their work as well as allowing artists like Lakota Locklear to be mentored by older artists who are looking to pass on their knowledge.
“He likes the music and enjoys their company,” said Tonya Locklear. “ It gives him the opportunity to learn from the elders that are so eager and willing to pass on what they know of this music down to the young ones.”
Currently, the album, which had an official release on Dec. 10, can be purchased at www.MusicMaker.org for $12.
Lakota John Locklear can next be seen performing with his other band, an electric blues band called Lakota John and Friends, on Friday at Starr’s in Fayetteville at 984 Old McPherson Church Road.
For information go to www.LakotaJohn.com.