When DAT began in 2013, the group mixed their favorite music styles together to differentiate their sound from other jazz standards. Nick Lucero brought the funky drums, Mike McLuhan added influences from jam bands and Mr. Anderson liked the jazz improvisation aspect.
“The guys had a great idea of adding my Native background to our music,” explained the student, who has been attending Eastern for five years. “DAT became a jazz/funk band with a Native American influence.”
Mr. Anderson, who was born in Shiprock and considers Kirtland to be his hometown, composes the majority of the band’s music and books their gigs. Mr. Lucero handles media and promotion and Mr. McLuhan evaluates performances and is the band advisor.
The band met through Farmington’s local music scene and community college. All of the members of DAT used to substitute for local jazz band members that were not able to make their performances.
“Sometimes, all three of us would be playing the same gig for a different band,” explained Mr. Anderson, who joined up with Mr. Lucero and Mr. McLuhan to create the band, originally called Clique.
The group tours extensively on the west coast and consider Arizona, California and Oregon to be their “hot spots.”
“Many of the local bands only perform in San Juan County. It was hard to join a band and make money, expect to tour and see different places,” explained Mr. Anderson.
“Many of the locals started bands for enjoyment, not for a career. I wanted to create a group which would not only tour but be profitable and, to some extent, operated as a business.
“I always tell the younger bands to invest in yourselves and to treat your band from a business standpoint. The DAT now has a name in the community as a professional band.”
The Native American influence of the group has been a huge part of marketing and served as a gateway to bigger/better festivals.
Mr. Anderson starts his songwriting process by listening to ancient melodies, some which were passed from generation-to-generation in his family. Then he focuses on a tiny portion or main theme and bring the music back to this day and age and adds it to DAT's style.
Some compositions were inspired by scenery from the Navajo Nation or from traveling experiences through the Native American territories. DAT's music is influenced by Native American songs, journeys and scenery.
Most of the songs on their first album, “Manitou,” are heavily influenced by Navajo culture.
DAT is also heavily involved in music education. Most of the group’s educational outreach programs involve the history of jazz.
“It is easy to credit music as being a huge change in our society. Jazz is the foundation of creating something new and forever lasting,” the ENMU student explained. “These teachings allow DAT to achieve our number one goal: keeping music alive.
“Our education programs reach out to many other topics, but the main reason is to spark the youth's interest and getting them to pick up an instrument.
“I love to teach what I have learned from my five years pursuing a degree in music education,” said Mr. Anderson. “I want to educate the youth on my experiences as a performer and also the importance of playing music.”
The DAT frontman’s favorite part of being in the band is having dinner as a trio.
“It shows me that we have accomplished something together. I also like food, which is why it's my favorite part. We have, unintentionally, had some very expensive dinners. They make great stories for our children and a list of ‘not what to do's.’
“Being in the trio's company is the best because we understand each other from a person-to-person standpoint. Our chemistry is what keeps the band going; we are all on the same page.”
The most challenging part is determining “who is going to drive next. I can't find anything overly challenging. Each person in the band is highly driven. If we all want something, we will get it.
“I believe our trio is one of the only bands around that can say we always come to an agreement.”
DAT began working with orchestras and symphonies in 2016 and have many jazz festivals booked.
They have been working closely with two independent film companies in which their music will be the main supply for both companies. The members are also looking to expand to a more mainstream film company.
“Our trio's goals involve creating a company in which all members will be able to live off of. We want to invent tools for our respected instruments and do extensive touring in Europe, hopefully by 2017.”
The band has won the New Mexico Music Awards for “Best Native American,” “Best Instrumental” and “Best Jazz.” They have also won Indigenous Music Awards in the jazz category and “Best Music Video” and a West Coast Music Award for “Best Song.”
Mr. Anderson, who has a wife and three children, has several hobbies, including playing softball (“I’m a serious fast-pitch player in left field”), amateur-level billiards pool and walking.
He chose to attend Eastern after music faculty visited his high school on a monthly basis and credits trumpet instructor John Kennedy as “one of the main reasons for my success.”
He decided to major in music education due to a love of music from the age of four.
“I started off singing, then playing drums. When grade school hit, I began trumpet. I went for music because it was always a part of my life.”
Mr. Anderson credits ENMU for making him realize the “professionalism of one’s self is the most important thing. Eastern helped me with the educational aspect of music and, from my first trumpet teacher, I learned how the music business operates.
“There are many things that I have learned from all the music faculty. There are so many people and teachings that I have overlooked, but ENMU gives you the keys to success. The guidance I received has helped the trio and me heavily.”