The Great American Desert – “Whiteclay”
The Great American Desert is Maxwell Holmquist. Max is an artist whose ties to his Nebraska home are worn into the fabric of his songs. When he talks and sings about Lincoln or Omaha, you can hear in his voice a sentiment not unlike that reserved for family, old friends, first loves. And like his Desert stage name, his songs move in the space between the bleakness and beauty of a long-term relationship with all of the attendent pleasures and pain.
In “Whiteclay” Max ruminates on the lack of attention given to a crisis in the north-eastern part of his state near the town of Whiteclay, NE. As he discusses in our video, the Native American residents of the Pine Ridge reservation have, for years, purchased large quantities of alcohol in Whiteclay. Booze is banned by the tribal government of Pine Ridge and the situation in Whiteclay has become serious enough in recent years to incite litigation by the tribe against large beer companies that supply the bars and liquor stores in the region. Max interprets the situation by acknowledging the tragedy of regional and national silence surrounding the issue: “Ignore it, they’ll be fine” he sings ironically. The ache in his voice isn’t a performance.
Max recently released Carson City, a living room record that presents The Great American Desert at its most pristine: a man and his guitar with no frills. You can purchase it at http://thegreatamericandesert.bandcamp.com/