Cherokees musicians keep nighTTrain rocking

Multimedia Producer – @cp_rgraham
07/10/2017 03:00 PM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Main Cherokee Phoenix
nighTTrain, a classic rock cover band with a strong Cherokee presence, played at the RFC Music Fest on July 1 during the Huckleberry Festival in Jay, Oklahoma. Band members include bassist/vocalist Jeff Elmer, lead guitarist James Dunham, lead vocalist/guitarist Joe Hall, drummer/vocalist Tuff Barnes and guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Waylon Barnes. ROGER GRAHAM/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
JAY, Okla. – Huckleberry Festival visitors were treated to time-tested classic rock on July 1 at the RFC Music Fest when the predominantly Cherokee band nighTTrain stepped on stage.

The five-member band includes three Cherokee Nation citizens in James Dunham, lead guitar; Waylon Barnes, guitar, keyboards and vocals; and his brother Tuff Barnes, who performs on drums and vocals. Other members include Jeff Elmer, bass and vocals, and Joe Hall, lead vocals and guitar.

Dunham talked about the band’s Native presence and their longevity. “Yeah, three of us are Cherokee officially and one who’s a kind of off-the-record Cherokee. But we must be doing something right. In about a week we will have been together eight years.”

He added that while the band plays classic rock, its set list is diverse.

“We play from America to Metallica and all songs in between,” he said.

As for its upcoming schedule, nighTTrain performs frequently at tribal venues including Cherokee casinos.

“We’ve got some dates coming up at the Hard Rock in Tulsa, at ‘Riffs.’ We’ve got Fort Gibson casino. We’ve got Grove casino and West Siloam casino. That covers us for the next couple of months,” he said.
Dunham said he also wants fans to know that the band also has a single out.

“We just went into Crisp recording studio over in Fayetteville (Arkansas). We recorded our take on Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” And we actually have that for sale by digital download, along with all the popular sites iTunes, Amazon music, Google music, it’s out there,” he said.

Tuff Barnes said he had had a rough start after joining the band eight years ago.

“When we first started out I couldn’t practice because I had heart surgery, so they were about three months ahead of me when we finally all got together. But we’ve come a long ways and play a lot of different venues now,” he said.

Waylon Barnes said playing with Cherokees musicians is fairly common for him.

“I’ve been playing with these Cherokees for the last eight years. Before that I played music with my dad, who was also Cherokee,” he said.

Waylon Barnes said he believes the band’s longevity has placed them on a good path.

“Yeah, with our band I think we’re hitting a pretty good stride. There are lots of gigs, and we just keep going up and up. With all of us having day jobs, it’s hard to stay on top of things all the time, but you got to do what you got to do.”

For more information on nighTTrain’s, visit or
About the Author
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roge ... • 918-207-3969
Roger began working for the Cherokee Nation in 2005 and joined the Cherokee Phoenix staff in 2008. After 25 years in broadcast news and production, Roge ...


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