Farmington Jazz Trio D’DAT Travels to Africa for WOMAD Safari Event

  • D’DAT will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa in early October to perform at the 40th annual WOMAD South African Safari festival.
  • The event which will feature indigenous musicians from this host country, as well as those from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.
  • D’DAT will be joined on this trip by Shiprock native Alexandria Holiday.

FARMINGTON — Though he looks back on what was by far the busiest year in his band’s history, Farmington jazz trumpeter Delbert Anderson knows it’s not time to put his feet up and do a break from the rigors of the road.

Anderson, the frontman of D’DAT, said the two-and-a-half-week stretch he enjoys in September is the longest time he’s been at home this year. Before that, he said, Anderson hadn’t been to Farmington for more than six days in a row since Jan. 1.

This will change in the last two months of 2022, as the band deliberately left this period open on their schedule to take advantage of the holidays. But before Anderson and his bandmates, drummer Nicholas Lucero and bassist Michael McCluhan, settle down for a well-deserved rest, they have another item on their agenda that will eclipse their various other ventures this year.

D’DAT will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa in early October to perform at the 40e annual WOMAD South African Safari festival, an event that will feature indigenous musicians from this host country, as well as those from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

WOMAD is an acronym for the world of music, art and dance, and it was conceived in 1982 by British musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Peter Gabriel, one of the band’s founders Genesis. D’DAT was invited to perform at the festival thanks to the growing list of contacts he has developed through his participation in the Native Launchpad program run by the Western Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon, dedicated to the presentation and promotion of the performing arts throughout the western United States and Canadian provinces.

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Native Launchpad has been a godsend for D’DAT, Anderson said, explaining that his group is operating on an entirely different level now than it was three years ago when he began participating in the program. The band’s profile has risen considerably since then, he said, explaining that D’DAT’s association with the Western Arts Alliance has resulted in the band being invited to events such as the South African festival.

The band will spend five days in South Africa, Anderson said, performing each night of their stay, with the highlight of the trip being Saturday October 8 when they take the stage at the festival finale at Paterson Park in Johannesburg before which is expected to be a huge crowd.

D’DAT will be joined on the trip by Shiprock native Alexandria Holiday, a singer Anderson has mentored in recent years.

“This will be our last project of the year,” Anderson said. “…My brain is so fried. I’m really looking forward to this trip, but I’m really glad we’re done for next year.”

Aside from occasional visits to Canada and a trip to Dublin, Ireland when he was in college, this would mark Anderson’s first trip outside the United States. As he struggled to resolve the various issues surrounding the group’s participation in the festival, Anderson received training in navigating the complexities of international travel.

“I’m amazed that everything went well,” he said. “I felt like there were a lot of loose ends to iron out.”

High on the list was securing financing for D’DAT’s airlift to South Africa – a considerable sum in these times of soaring prices. Anderson was able to secure a USArtists International grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation that covered the cost of the group’s airfare, and he booked the flights last month.

This move illustrates Anderson’s growing ability to identify and secure outside funding for many of the projects D’DAT has undertaken over the past two years. Since 2020 alone, Anderson has secured funding for several projects his band has participated in, including the Blue Desert Virtual Tour, a multi-disciplinary show called “The Spirit Coalescent”, a traveling musical called “Naat’aanii” and a musical tour of five Bureau of Land Management sites across the West that have already been booked for 2023.

Performances related to these projects were added to D’DAT’s regular concert lineup at jazz clubs, performance halls and other venues across the United States. The group performs regularly in New York and California, and it will likely see its trips to these population centers become more frequent in the years to come as its star continues to rise on the jazz scene.

Delbert Anderson stands in the doorway of the D'DAT headquarters in downtown Farmington.

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Anderson said he believes D’DAT’s artistic growth over the past few years has been as profound as his growing ability to build his career. He doesn’t compare D’DAT to contemporary jazz icons such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock or Wynton Marsalis, but he said the band backs down from no one in terms of establishing an identity for themselves – and to find new ways to be heard. .

“We’re on top in terms of creativity and having our own voice,” he said.

Another indication of the band’s growing national and international reputation will come this week when New York Times reporter Michael Powell travels to Farmington to profile Anderson and D’DAT. Powell, author of the book ‘Canyon Dreams’ which examines the cultural weight of high school basketball on the Navajo Nation, became acquainted with the group when he moved to Arizona to chronicle the basketball team’s exploits. 2016-17 Chinle High School Boys’ Ball for his book.

Another sign of how far D’DAT has come is how it now operates more as a company than a band. The group hired two paid interns to do its most mundane tasks, like filling out paperwork and answering the 80 or 90 emails it receives every day.

D’DAT has rented offices and rehearsal space downtown which it uses as its headquarters. She is also launching a booking agency that aims to represent Indigenous musical artists across North America, with Anderson having already built up an impressive list of clients that the agency will serve.

Farmington jazz trio D'DAT had their busiest year ever in 2022, traveling throughout the West on a tour of Bureau of Land Management sites and performing concerts from coast to coast. 'other.

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Anderson credited the Western Arts Alliance, in particular outgoing executive director Tim Wilson and the organization’s mentor assigned to D’DAT, David Greenburg, for helping to transform his band from a regional tour to modest success a year ago. just a few short years into a nationally known entity that is enjoying a meteoric rise these days. He said Wilson described D’DAT as the poster child for the Native Launchpad program’s ideals, and he smiled when he described how everyone seemed to be talking about the band at the recent annual conference. alliance in Calgary, Alberta.

While he appreciates that kind of attention, Anderson said his mentors also taught him to embrace such changes in stride and stay grounded. The success of the past two years has allowed Anderson to achieve a level of financial stability and support for his family like never before. But he said he knows that kind of windfall won’t last forever, and he and his wife are trying to spend the money wisely.

Next year probably won’t be as busy as this year, Anderson said, but he noted the band has already booked 40% of its 2023 dates and plans to take “The Spirit Coalescent” and “Naat’aanii.” on the road. He will also meet with extremely wealthy funders associated with the National Endowment for the Arts early next year to discuss his long-held dream of building a large community arts center in the Farmington area – a facility that would include studios recording studios, living quarters, rehearsal rooms, conference rooms, offices, classrooms and other spaces to help budding young musical artists launch a career.

The price of such a facility would be in the tens of millions of dollars, he said, and Anderson knows that’s a reach. But if the past few years have taught him anything, it’s that he shouldn’t necessarily dismiss the possibility of such dreams coming true.

“I feel a sense of gratitude to this community, and I know it’s important to maintain that humility,” he said, noting how Farmington audiences supported D’DAT and its various projects when the band was founded in the early 2010s. “It’s also important to be flexible and adaptable. I always talk about improvisation as a survival technique.”

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription:

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