Diggin:’ Deer Clan Singers – Alligator Dance

inDiggin'on October 29, 2015


A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to work an event in Pembroke at the Givens Performing Arts Center at an event funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. This grant has helped us bring live musical performances to accompany our “We Are the Music Makers!” multimedia exhibit. It was a fantastic show, and it was also a rare opportunity to see the Deer Clan Singers get together and perform. If you’re unfamiliar with their music, Deer Clan Singers are a family of the Tuscarora Nation, led by Dave Locklear, Mark Deese, Pura Fe, Chad Locklear and occasionally joined by other cousins in performance.

Backstage, I asked Pura Fé how long they’d all been singing together and she laughed, saying “I raised these boys, I’ve been singing with them since they were pups!” You can feel this love and their strong family bond that goes back generations. I wanted to write about the song “Alligator Dance” from the album Deers R Us. I love how the song starts with bare bones percussion first, shakers for the most part, and evolves around gradual tempo changes that both speed up and slow down. There’s a lot of call and response between song leader and group, however there’s plenty of cross over where both parties join in together. Those crossing points are where you really feel the energy of everyone really come together. Apparently, the Alligator Dance itself involves alternating men and women rotating in a coil-like counter-clockwise turn around a drum, which is supposed to represent the beginning and continuous flow of life. If you ever get a chance to watch Deer Clan live, do not pass up the opportunity.


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