Monday, March 29, 2004

Here is a new bio I've composed.

SANDMAN: Montana’s Rappin’ Cowboy

Sandman’s music has many facets, but country and rap shine clearest. The influence that drew these two sounds together for him was cowboy poetry, which he heard growing up in Montana and North Dakota. Perhaps the poetry's absence of "music" allowed him to pay closer attention to subtler sounds in the environment, such as the rich vocal inflections of his ranch relatives, the bellowing of Hereford bulls, and his barking Border collie, Heidi. Sometimes the space between the willows and the barbed wire roared the loudest. Sometimes the bludgeoning rhythm of the tractor and post-pounder caught his attention.

Sand lived most of his childhood on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana, where his maternal great-grandparents homesteaded in the early 1900’s. He lived in the country seven miles from where he attended school. Hip hop culture hit "the Rez" in 1983, which began with Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and ended with Boogaloo Shrimp’s gravity-defying head-spins. Chris and his 6th-grade friends enthusiastically practiced break dancing, but by the next year most of his pals had lost interest. Sand was hooked on the lyrics and soul, however, and he transferred his passion diagonally to rap. When working with his dad, he'd listen to George Strait and Alabama, but in his spare moments he'd crank Run-DMC and Chaka Khan.

As he progressed through high school, Sand became frustrated with country isolation. Luckily, he discovered both Bob Dylan and Ice T. This music, and the unlikely discovery of early-'70's reggae, allowed him to persevere and finally graduate.

College followed, as did Sand's first rap band, "DJ Dave and Sandman." DJ Dave eventually moved back east, and Sandman, well he fought some forest fires, traveled, and learned to play guitar. In 1993 he moved to Olympia, Washington, to finish college at Evergreen. While there he mingled with the love-punks, anarchists, and riot grrrls, and found himself a home away from home.

Since then Sand has put out fifteen-or-so tapes and CDs and done some touring, sharing bills with acts ranging from Spearhead to Mirah. Sandman makes a lot of people happy and some people angry. His music is political, sexual, and distinctly western. He has reclaimed the word "cowboy" and made it mean something vivid again--something beyond rodeo and Marlboros, Texas oil barons and Toby Keith.

Perhaps Sand has stepped in enough cow manure and listened to enough songs to know that music isn't necessarily more worthwhile than a good night’s rest, a tall glass of water, or silence. It's just another good thing in a world full of many good things. If you're ever in the mood to hear cowboy philosophy and music through the filter of a post-modern troubadour’s hip hop heart, you’ll want to meet Chris Sand, AKA “Sandman”-- Montana’s rappin’ cowboy.

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