Re-enter XIT

Nostalgic fair crowd crams chapter for reunion concert

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

SHIPROCK, Oct. 10, 2013

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(Times photos – Shondiin Silversmith)

TOP: The Original XIT singer A. Michal Martinez (front) and bass player Jomac Suazo play in front of a crowd of 250 people at the Shiprock Chapter House.

MIDDLE:What the band looked like in their heydey.

BOTTOM: Original video from the band.



They may not have played on the Navajo Nation for the past 35 years but their presence was still strong as the 1970s Indian rock group The Original XIT rocked the house at the Shiprock Chapter House last Friday night.

The Original XIT came back for a good old-fashioned rock show thanks to a request from their close friend (and sometime member) Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie.

A. Michal Martinez, singer and guitarist, said he has that type of power because "he's a special brother to us."

"XIT music really provided a soundtrack to the movement of Indian pride, Native pride back in the early 70s," Yazzie said on why he wanted to bring the band back to the Navajo Nation.

"In Indian country XIT music is very important because it made a serious statement, and that's why XIT music is so timeless," Yazzie said.

"It's so relevant because of the condition and status of Native people hasn't really changed," Yazzie said, adding that the band spoke the truth through its music and lyrics.

"I'm really happy and really proud that these guys could come out and be with us this evening," Yazzie added.

The Original XIT, formally known as XIT, consists of A. Michal Martinez (guitar and vocals), Lee Herrera (drums), Jomac Suazo (bass) and RC Gariss (guitar and piano).

According to the band members they formed their group while playing music together in high school in Albuquerque.

"We've been playing since high school. It just progressed into this sound of Native American rock," Herrera said.

"We developed it and are very comfortable with the sound. It's done a lot for us and we hope it's done a lot as far as bringing recognition to the Native American people," Herrera added.

Herrera said after the group developed its sound the members wanted to come up with a name that represented them as group, "which was a crossing of Indian tribes, and that's how the named developed XIT, crossing of Indian tribes."

According to the band they haven't all played together as a group in at least 35 years, but even with that amount of time none of the band members feel like a day has passed.

"It's like riding a bike, feels like we never left," drummer Lee Herrera said.


"It feels just like yesterday; we don't have the stamina or looks we once had," said Gariss, adding that when they started rehearsing it didn't take much from each of them to be back in sync.

"We just sat down and started playing," Herrera added.

Shiprock was a great place to bring back their music.

"I always loved Shiprock, I always loved playing here because the people are just good to us," Martinez said.

"The original music from XIT," Suazo said is what new and old fans got from their performance, adding that they are the original.

Since their creation the band has put out six albums, eXIT from the Rez, No eXIT, eXIT Now, Next eXIT, The Red Album and 40 Years.

The show brought in at least 250 people, and as people piled into the Shiprock Chapter House, Yazzie said there was nothing but positive feedback.

"It's very historical that we could bring The Original XIT back to the rez," Yazzie added.

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