Flying in a Swimming Pool


D’DAT, a local music trio, were invited to the WOMAD World Festival experience in South Africa. Members collaborated with local artists, indigenous musicians, and more, learning and exchanging personal experiences and cultural perspectives. With a new album on the way inspired and produced during their trip, D’DAT wants to continue to explore themes and ideas they learned along the way. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Three Rivers Brewing and Pop’s Truck & RV Center

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What do you listen to in the car? What gets you amped up to work out or do the dishes? What is your go-to music? Which artist or group would you see in concert over and over again? There's something special about the unifying nature of music and local group D'DAT experienced it during a trip to South Africa, as part of the internationally renowned WOMAD festival. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Three Rivers Brewing, and Pop's Truck and RV Center. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

We started as a trio about 10 years ago. Delbert and Mike and I had tried to start other bands, and we tried to have bigger bands with singers and those kind of things, and it never really seemed to work out. It's just hard to have that many people in a band, and keep schedules consistent and all that kind of stuff. And so, Delbert and Mike and I were the only three that would consistently- we were the only three that would always show up. And we thought one day, let's just try playing as a trio. Our instrumentation's unconventional, we have drums, bass, and trumpets. We don't have any chords or anything, but it felt a little weird. But then we realized we had a lot of freedom and a lot of place to move around.

Unconventional, they may be, but the unique arrangements of instruments allows for even more unique collaborations. D'DAT often works with other local musicians and singers as well as collaborations on a national scale. Their sound and style is one based more on improvisation and working with each other, rather than off pre-written music sheets.

Playing it and just playing around with it, and again, with the configuration like that. And these guys are both great players like that. So it just gives us all, just freedom. It's like flying, flying in a swimming pool. You can go any direction.

And I think what separates us from other bands and sort of like a generalized genre, we are all coming from different backgrounds and so does everyone, but with our music we tended to sort of pair our cultural backgrounds with sort of personal likings.

This fall, D'DAT was invited to participate in a WOMAD festival in South Africa. WOMAD festivals were founded by musician and singer, Peter Gabriel. And WOMAD stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance. An ever evolving variety of musicians and artists at events, around the world. D'DAT was part of the inaugural South Africa Festival, this past fall. The experiences the trio had extended beyond the opportunities to perform and play.

I'd like to say we're sort of the group that was representing the United States. They had another indigenous group called Digging Roots, from the First Nations and others from like New Zealand, and Australia, Chile, like all over the place. And it was so amazing to see and witness these musicians who are out there, especially that are attached to these very old indigenous tribes, come in and really give it their all.

D'DAT traveled with a local Navajo singer who joined a Zulu singer from Zimbabwe on a song collaboration for part of an album D'DAT recorded, while in South Africa. There were so many shared experiences between the two women's experiences, as well as the opportunity to talk with other music groups and people who came to the festival from half a world away.

Something interesting was there was a lot of similarities with cultural struggle, like marginalization, that kind of thing. What we're dealing here with many indigenous tribes on North America, the same thing is going on there. And it was so powerful to see them both speak and share their ideas. Cause a lot of these places that we went into and we were looking for, or not looking for, but when we were doing our lectures and workshops, a lot of the audience wanted ideas on how they could either cope or start beginning to inflict change in their own communities.

So to be able to sit down and find those same commonalities and to hear some of the discussions on a high level with the local government and with the workshops, and the people that we talked to, was powerful. And then that same sense of sameness spread out to the other musicians as well. Talking to like Tiki from New Zealand, or talking to the Digging Roots or the folks from Chile or Brazil, you know, a lot of similarities, and thoughts on stuff like colonization, and the westernization of everything. All those kind of thoughts, and how that's impacted indigenous peoples, and indigenous cultures across the world, was a similar starting point for everyone. And it was such an impactful starting point for everyone that I think that was part of how everyone felt like family right off the bat.

Of course, there were music workshops and opportunities to perform. The band did manage to complete their recording and production of their newest album. Including the song, "Grandma's Song". The collaboration between Diné and Zulu Singer, celebrating the power of their grandmothers. The album does not yet have a release date, but previous albums from D'DAT can be found on all major streaming services and on YouTube. To learn more about the group, see what upcoming music gigs they have, and keep up to date on upcoming projects, visit their website at Thank you for watching this edition of The Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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