Opera House

Red Cloud Opera House
413 N Webster Street
Red Cloud, NE 68970
United States

Fronted by Mato Nanji, Indigenous plays a gritty, soulful, and rocking blues sound influenced by the likes of B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Indigenous burst onto the national stage twenty-three years ago and have been at the forefront of American blues music ever since. Indigenous released its debut album, "Things We Do," in 1998. The next year it won three awards at the Native American Music Awards including Album of the Year and Group of the year.  The record also produced the single "Now That You're Gone," which peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, making Indigenous one of the few American Indian bands to achieve that level of success. Amazon named the band Blues Artist of the Year, and Indigenous was featured on a host of national television programs including Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Indigenous has had two albums that reached No. 3 on the Billboard Top Blues Album charts, and the band's 2006 release "Chasing the Sun" peaked at No. 2. 

While band members have come and gone over the years, Mato continues to lead the band with his signature blues-rock sound. Today the band features Mato's son Evan Nanji on guitar, Justin Cournoyer on the bass, and Kurt Olson on drums.  They are Indigenous.

About the Band

Mato Nanji (lead vocals/guitar) of the Ihanktonwan Nation and son of accomplished musician Greg Zephier, Sr., first picked up the guitar when he was sixteen. With the experience, love, and wisdom of their father to guide them, Mato, his brother, sister, and cousin formed the band Indigenous while in their late teens. Since then, he has toured the country with Indigenous, playing with artists such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, and Jackson Brown. The highlight of Nanji’s career was being invited to join the Experience Hendrix Tour; he has been a member since 2002.

Evan Nanji (guitar), started playing guitar at the age of fifteen and hasn't looked back. His natural talent has taken him on tour all across the United States.  Fans have quickly noticed Evan's unique style and passion for blues music. Evan is honored and excited to follow in his father's footsteps. 

Justin Cournoyer (bass), born and raised in the Ihanktonwan Makoche', also picked up a guitar for the first time at the age of sixteen. As a kid, Cournoyer watched and listened as his uncle John Peters played his Fender Stratocaster. Growing up in the '90s, he was very into alternative grunge rock—until he heard the Nanjis play. When he met Mato and his family, he had never heard blues rock the way the Nanjis played it. Since then, Mato and Indigenous have always been a huge influence and inspiration to him.

Thank you to our sponsors!

  • Gary and Beverly Meyer
  • Dennis and Sally Hansen
  • Marion and Pat Arneson
  • GTA Insurance Group
  • Heritage Bank

Programming at the National Willa Cather's Red Cloud Opera House is made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.