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Jim Boyd, Musician and Chairman of Colville Tribes, Dies at Age 60

Jim Boyd Band, featured on APCMA website

KPBX's John Johnson will rebroadcast a 1996 interview with Jim Boyd as a tribute to the award-winning musician. The Native community and music fans alike have been mourning the death of Boyd since the Colville Tribes announced his death on Tuesday.

Native American musician and chairman of the Colville confederated tribes Jim Boyd has died from what his family calls “natural causes.” He was 60 years old.

Boyd was a recording artist with several releases to his credit, including contributions to the soundtrack of the 1998 film Smoke Signals.

Boyd says he began playing music at a very early age. “I remember being four years old, and I was obsessed with music even then. I had these little plastic instruments, and those were my toys. No one could touch them. We lived on and off the reservation; my dad was in the air force for 20 years, and I remember trying to build my own drum set in 4th grade out of cardboard.”

Boyd played in cover bands as a lead guitar player for several years and didn’t start to write his own material until his thirties.

“I quit drinking 23 years ago, and I got a degree in commercial music and jazz studies and a degree in small business administration management from the Falls [SFCC]. And during that t?ime I started to write songs; many of them were issue-oriented songs about things I’d never thought about before.”

At one point, Boyd teamed up with Native American writer Sherman Alexie, and they wrote songs together.

Boyd said he never wanted his works to be stereotyped as one specific musical genre because of his heritage.

“I did some traditional stuff--I did a song about stick games, which is something we played on the reservation. I did a lot of folk rock, and then I did rock. I have 14 albums, and they are all totally different from each other. That’s the problem I figured out on my own label. That’s why they wanted me to do one type of music--so they [could] put it in one slot in the stores. And when I worked with Sherman Alexie on Reservation Blues, we did some of the songs [from] the Smoke Signals soundtrack. And so the record stores would put it in the blues category. But it’s not blues; it’s more folkish.”

In 2014 Boyd received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native American Music Awards .

Boyd was a member of the Arrow Lakes Band, one of the twelve tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.