First installment of virtual jazz concert series will be streamed this weekend

Episodes will be streamed at 7 p.m. April 3, 10 and 17

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The concert series was created and organized by Farmington jazz band leader Delbert Anderson.
  • It is being funded by a $30,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Chamber Music America.
  • The series features D'DAT, the Brad Goode Quintent and the Julia Keefe Quartet.

FARMINGTON — Since receiving a $30,000 grant in February to put together a series of virtual jazz concerts around the Four Corners area, Farmington musician and impresario Delbert Anderson has worked hard to bring the project to fruition, compiling a lineup of performers, arranging partnerships with local arts and wellness organizations, and working with a video crew to shoot the performances.

The series, known as the Blue Desert Virtual Tour, begins this weekend with a segment that focuses on Farmington. But Anderson already has gotten an emotional lift from the project after traveling to Lafayette, Colorado, recently to be present for the recording of the segment featuring the Brad Goode Quintet.

Farmington's own D'DAT will headline the first installment of the Blue Desert Virtual Tour being streamed April 3 on Facebook.

"Man, it was so great to hear live music again," Anderson said. "Brad's group is so well known. … To hear that talent and hear such a great band was crazy."

Like so many other people, Anderson has found himself craving the rush and energy that comes from being part of an audience for a live band as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought most in-person performances to a halt over the last year. He knows the presentation of the Blue Desert Virtual Tour over the next three weeks won't necessarily address that yearning, but he hopes it fills part of the void left by the absence of live music and reminds viewers that better times could be coming.

The Brad Goode Quintet is one of the acts featured in the Blue Desert Virtual Tour that kicks off this weekend and continues April 10 and April 17.

The grant Anderson received from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Chamber Music America — one of only five awarded by the groups across the United States and Puerto Rico — is designed not just to provide virtual jazz concerts for underserved communities, but to focus on wellness facilities based in those areas that serve Native clients. The grant proposal Anderson put together covers Farmington and Gallup in New Mexico, and Cortez in southwest Colorado.

Each "episode" of the series will last for a little less than 90 minutes and feature filmed performances by three bands — Anderson's group D'DAT, the Brad Goode Quintet and the Julia Keefe Quartet. The concert portions will be augmented by short segments that focus on the wellness facilities in those host communities, as well as portions that highlight their cultural and historical attractions.

The Julia Keefe Quartet is part of the Blue Desert Virtual Tour being streamed over the next three weekends on Facebook.

Anderson said the D'DAT performance originally was going to be shot at the outdoor HeArt Space behind Studio 116 in downtown Farmington, but the weather didn't cooperate, and the segment had to be moved indoors to D'DAT's band headquarters at 305 W. Main St. Anderson described his band's move into that space as another step in its long-term plan to launch its own marketing and management arms.

"We always wanted to build this community music hub where we could host shows and community events," he said. "It's just sort of a hang spot for local musicians. We're definitely not there yet, but this is one of the first steps."

Anderson said D'DAT performed approximately a dozen songs that will be featured over the three episodes of the series. The series also features taped segments featuring such well-known jazz figures as saxophonist Ernie Watts; Jason Moran, artistic adviser for jazz at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; China Moses, a singer and television host; and DJ Logic, a New York-based turntablist credited with being one of the leading forces in fusing jazz and hip hop.

D'DAT recorded its performance for the Blue Desert Virtual Tour at its new band headquarters in downtown Farmington.

The theme of the entire series is to promote the idea of the healing power of jazz music in indigenous communities. That's a notion to which Anderson has always subscribed, recalling how he latched on to the genre as a young Navajo musician growing up in Shiprock and eventually built a career out of it.

More:Farmington jazz bandleader earns $30k grant for virtual concert series

As the primary organizer of the Blue Desert Virtual Tour, Anderson noted this is the first time he has worked on a project of this magnitude. Though it has been an enormous amount of work and has generated a fair amount of stress in his life, he said he has no regrets about taking it on.

"It was very fun," he said. "It was a greatest experience ever. I've gotten to see the amount of work that goes into these things. Everyone plays a part, but I've had to make sure everything was being done correctly and on time."

Delbert Anderson says producing the Blue Desert Virtual Tour was a stressful experience, but one he enjoyed very much.

One of the more satisfying aspects of the experience, Anderson has said, is that he knows he has helped provide work for the close to two dozen people involved in the production, all of whom were paid through the $30,000 grant he secured.

"It was all worth it, and I would definitely do it again," he said. "I'm definitely better prepared to handle something like this again."

The Blue Desert Virtual Tour premieres at 7 p.m. April 3 on the Blue Desert Virtual Tour Facebook page. Each episode also will be streamed on the web site of the local arts organization that partnered with Anderson to make the series a reality — the Northwest New Mexico Arts Council in Farmington, the ART123 Gallery in Gallup and the Cortez Cultural Center in Cortez.

The Cortez episode will be streamed at 7 p.m. April 10, and the Gallup episode will be streamed at 7 p.m. April 17. There is no cost to stream the episodes.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.