Native American Student Services (NASS) kicked off the new school year with the groove band The Atoll jamming on the Plaza in the sunshine Thursday afternoon.
The band played to preview the Native American Music Festival that will be featured this Saturday at the Fort Collins Museum from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
"The idea behind having Atoll play here is to introduce students to the Native American Music Festival and the idea behind it," said History professor Greg Smoak, who arranged for The Atoll to play on the Plaza.
Smoak wants to inform students that Native American music is more than just the traditional music people usually think of.
"Native people aren't stuck in the past. They are vibrant, and there are native people out there who play in rock bands and perform hip-hop, jazz and blues," Smoak said.
The Atoll, fronted by lead singer and guitarist Cary Morin, played an hour set for passing students, many who stopped to hear their music.
"They seem really good," said Krista Johnson, a senior technical journalism major. "This is not what I would expect out of a Native American band. They seem really contemporary."
The Atoll's performance is only one of the things NASS and the Fort Collins Museum are doing to spread the word of Native American cultural awareness.
Beth Higgins, public relations and development coordinator for the Fort Collins Museum, said the museum is working hand-in-hand with Native Americans to make people aware of modern day Native American culture.
"The museum wants to show that Native Americans are contributing to our society today just like in the past and what better and more fun way to show this than with music," she said.
The festival will feature a variety of music as well as the traditional Native American music most people are familiar with, Higgins said.
"While you'll hear traditional flute and drums, you're going to hear rock, reggae and folk music," she said. "This is what makes this music festival unique."
Anita Morin, Fort Collins Museum volunteer and mother of Cary Morin, said she is excited for the music festival because it will show people that there are many Native Americans breaking out into the mainstream music entertainment business.
"A lot of people come thinking they'll see traditional Native American bands. We're not just feathers and beads," Anita Morin said.
Although The Atoll will not be playing at the festival Saturday, some of the band members will play an acoustic set at the Artists' Welcome and Opening Reception today at the Fort Collins Museum from 5 to 8 p.m.
A number of bands will play Saturday along with other activities and food.
"There will be 16 or 17 vendors selling neat stuff. There will also be lots of food and great music," Anita Morin said.