PEMBROKE — Local American Indian and bottleneck slide guitar player Lakota John Locklear has brought a unique spin to 1920s music with his own homegrown flair.
Locklear injects his music with pieces of ragtime, early American, roots, Piedmont and blues, and uses them to reinvent and revive early music. He considers himself an authority on getting these types of music out to the public.
“I get to share what I do with one, being a solo performer, and two, being someone that is preserving early American roots music — preserving that and then turning on people to music their ancestors listened to,” he said.
Locklear says most of his fans are not American Indian, so he tries to showcase his culture when he performs.
“I run into a lot of people that think Native Americans are non-existent,” he said. “Being able to share my music and incorporate the native aspect into that is like a way for me and my voice to be heard, plus for me to say, ‘Hey, I’m Indian I’m native.’”
Locklear, 21, of Pembroke, has been singing, playing musical instruments and composing music since he was a 6-year-old. He got his inspiration from listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers Band, and primarily rock with his father, John Locklear, also from Pembroke. He wanted to know where those musicians got their music style, so he started digging into past music and came up with his own technique and style. He said a lot of popular artists like him come from a homegrown background.
“If you ever hear of the name Pink Floyd those two names are from two Piedmont Blues artist right here in North Carolina,” Locklear said.
Locklear generates his sound through pieces of other music, such as a beat or pattern of notes that add flavor to his music. He says he is inspired by the American Indian roots of his mother, Tonya Holyelk Locklear, and adds native tones to his music, also.
The American Indian (Lumbee/Oglala Lakota) found himself researching and looking for music before the rock era and before radio was invented.
Locklear has twice attended on scholarship Centrum’s Acoustic Blues Festival in Port Townsend, Wash., where he participated in guitar workshops and jam sessions with the late John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton and many more.
Locklear has many memorable moments of tours, but his favorite was in Los Angeles.
“With all the killer musicians in L.A. someone wants a country boy from North Carolina, knowing the other musicians are extremely talented and mine was very different,” Locklear said. “It made me feel good.”
In his downtime he still composes and sings for fun and relaxation, but he also hangs out with friends.
“He is one of a kind, and he inspires me because he is determined and dedicated at all he does,” said Luke Andujar, a longtime friend.
Locklear has toured around the country and the world, eating his favorite junk food Sour Patch Kids in Italy, New Mexico, New York, Maine, Virginia, Georgia and Washington, D.C. where he played at the Kennedy Center. He uses social media to interact with fans.
Locklear is not only a singer, instrumentalist, and composer, but has an associate’s degree in Applied Science from Robeson Community College.
“The thing about my music is that it is relaxing and I find it very therapeutic,” Locklear said.
Although most see blues as stories that show sadness, Locklear’s has a fun, upbeat feel.
“A lot of people think about blues and they’re like ‘oh my God my girlfriend left me, I got drunk and then my mom died,’” he said. “It’s not all about that all the time.”
Locklear, who can handle the flute, bass, percussion and guitar, has been recognized by the Huffington Post.
“His guitar playing places easy strumming alongside demanding but tasteful slide work, and his soulful singing recalls Dave Van Ronk. This impressive debut establishes Lakota John as a young musician to watch!” said Stephen D. Winick, folklorist, music critic and editor.
John Holeman, an American Piedmont bluesman, said when Locklear is on the guitar, he’s got “electric fire” in his hands.
Locklear’s music can be found at LakotaJohn.com, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer, and Vimeo.
Michelle Adujar can be reached at [email protected]