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Santa Cruz harmonica maestro Rafael ‘Rio’ Riotutar heals with the harp

Published Saturday July 9

SANTA CRUZ >> Harmonicas litter the table in Rio’s Santa Cruz Beach Flats studio — Hohners, blues harps, 16-hole chromatics, even giant bass harps. As Rio plays, the notes dance through the converted garage and his eyes grow distant.

Behind him, an old leather punching bag peers out from beneath amplifiers, microphones and sheet music, a mute reminder of Rio’s history as a fighter.

Rafael “Rio” Riotutar is a Chippewa-Cree Indian whose mother was relocated by the federal government to Santa Cruz in 1946 from the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation near Great Falls, Montana. Rio was born a year later and grew up surrounded by one hundred fighting roosters in Live Oak.

Article length: About 510 words.
Tags: Santa Cruz
Read more at Santacruzsentinel

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