John Trudell is described as many things: poet, musician, actor, recording artist, activist.
Saturday night, he will be the man behind the mic at the first live concert performed at the newly revitalized .
Trudell and his band, Bad Dog, will play a mix of poetry, Native American music, blues and rock.
“We like that we get to be the first musical event," Trudell said in a phone interview earlier this week. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a good thing."
The show is one more milestone for the Springfield Grange, which reformed in the fall under the leadership of Grange President Alan Hicks to be a community gathering place in Pajaro, just outside of Watsonville in North Monterey County.
Trudell was a spokesperson for the Indian of All Tribes occupation of Alcatraz Island from 1969 to 1971. He worked with the American Indian Movement throughout the 1970s and, in 1982, Trudell began recording his poetry to traditional Native music, according to a press release from the Grange.
“The first time I heard John Trudell I was on the edge of my seat wanting to hear more," Hicks said. "His poetry reflects searing truths in the best traditions of a spiritual visionary.”
Trudell connected with the grange through Hicks. He said encouraging granges and supporting farmers fits well with his values.
"They represent the farmers, the people of the land," Trudell said. “We’re very interested in helping, raising that consciousness that the granges are there. These are very earth-friendly people."
Trudell is deeply involved in the hemp movement through Hempstead Project HEART (Hemp Energy Alternative Resource Technologies), an effort to raise the identity of industrial hemp as an alternative green material and energy. Gaining the allegiance of farmers will be integral to the future of hemp, a relative of marijuana that is illegal to grow in the United States.
Trudell wants the ban on hemp cultivation rescinded.
“It could have a great value to many of our environmental needs in the state," he said, reeling off a quick history of the plant that was grown widely until the discovery of oil.
Marijuana was demonized to shut down hemp production, Trudell said. Allowing the plant to be grown again could help the U.S. find an environmentally friendly way to be less dependant on oil and nuclear energy.
“We know that it could fill many, many of our contemporary industrial needs," Trudell said. “There are many people out there, especially land-based people, who are interested in industrial hemp … But no one’s paying any attention to it.”
Although hemp legalization is a passionate topic for Trudell, it will not be the focus of Saturday night's show.
People who come to the concert, "will hear a good band. I’ve really got a good band.”
“Everything’s built around spoken word, with singers in it," Trudell said.
Trudell encouraged people to come out for to support the grange. The community organization aims to offer a multicultural gathering space and to support sustainable agriculture, education and community building.
Concert tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Buy online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/.