LAS CRUCES — A 30-day musical tour featuring five native regions of the western United States wraps up this week with jazz band D’DAT visiting Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and performing at Centennial Highschool.
D’DAT is a jazz band – founded as a trio in 2013 by Delbert Anderson – and based in Farmington. Members now include Anderson on trumpet, Nicholas Lucero on drums, James Patookas on vocals and Michael McCluhan on bass.
Anderson explained that they were all influenced by Gitche Manitou, a fellow musician, who suggested the fusion of traditional Native American sound with modern jazz funk and hip-hop music. Manitou often traveled from First Nations in Canada to Germany throughout the year, Anderson said.
“He was always going to this festival while he was in Germany and…literally painting one side of a mountain. He was recalling and doing this big mural during this three-day festival they had there,” Anderson said of the band’s mentor. “He had a big vision the whole time.”
D’DAT’s Painted Mountains Tour was inspired by Manitou and a way for the group to say goodbye to him and thank him for his support. The group hit the road this summer taking 30 days to visit Canyon of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, Mecca Flats in Oregon, King Range in California and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico.
Anderson said more than 100 representatives of national monuments had contacted him to perform at their site, but they were only able to schedule five. At each location, the group spent time in the environment and encountered native tribes. They also held workshops for the community to better encapsulate the culture and sounds of the area.
They composed two original pieces for each stage, inspired by the knowledge they gained, and performed for the communities on their last day. The original tracks will be part of a 10-track album released next year celebrating Indigenous lands and peoples.
The album is also a way to help preserve tribal culture and customs in a time when older generations are dying and traditions are being lost.
“It’s literally all about collaboration,” Anderson said. “It’s about celebrating, again, public lands and celebrating Indigenous voices and really being between two identities that I think there’s a lot of misunderstandings with.”
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, which was established as a national monument in 2014 to protect the mountain ranges and desert areas of southern New Mexico, will be the group’s final stop July 7-9. Anderson said they would meet people from the Mescalero Apache tribe.
On Friday, the group invited members of the community to join them at the National Monument Visitor Center near the Dripping Springs Nature Area. Participants from past workshops will bring their instruments to play with the band.
Two new compositions will be written based on the experience of the Las Cruces area, and a concert will take place on the Centennial High School football field at 7 p.m. Saturday. It’s a free concert and all are welcome.
Anderson said the band would record the new material in November and the album would likely be released around six months later. He said the goal is to tour with the album next year and visit more national landmarks that had initially expressed interest. The Painted Mountains Tour can even become an annual trip.
Leah Romero is the Trending Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, LRomero@lcsun-news.com or @rromero_leah on Twitter.