For almost three decades, Branson, Missouri, has been my second home. My writing career afforded me the privilege of slipping into theater seats to review shows and backstage for interviews with internationally-known entertainers. Recently, my husband and I were privileged to be guests at the RFD-TV Theater and the featured show, Brule’, often described as American Indian Rock Opera.
Founded by Paul LaRoche, the show combines LaRoche’s original music, dazzling Native American regalia, fancy footwork to the beat of drums hewed from ancient cottonwood trees, and history that tells LaRoche’s journey, but also some of our country’s Native American culture. LaRoche plays keyboards and narrates the two-hour presentation. His son, Shane, performs on various guitars. Other band members keep a beat for dancers on both the traditional Native American drums and drums known best to American bands. The flutist, LaRoche’s daughter, Nicole, creates the group’s unique sound. Her father explains that traditionally only Native American males in courtship play the wooden flute. Nicole honors that tradition by creating the emotional and exquisite tones of a wooden flute on the regular steel flute she once played classically in the Minneapolis Youth Symphony.
Since discovering his Native American heritage in 1993, LaRoche, already a career musician, has committed himself and his music to inspiring change and reconciliation of the cultures through understanding and communication. RFD-TV and Brule’ are combining their creative talents to produce “One Nation,” a float debuting at the upcoming 122nd Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, on New Year’s Day 2011. The 75-foot float is designed around a sculpted 35-foot tall “fancy feather dancer,” based on the brilliantly-colored regalia of Brule’ band member, Garan Coons, an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. The fancy dancer combines the traditional element of Native American dances with the newer contemporary dancers who travel a circuit of pow-wows around the country. Brule’ will perform on the Rose Parade float. Representatives from different Native American tribes are invited to help decorate the float and dance alongside on the entire five and a half mile parade route. Over a million people will watch the parade pass, and the world-wide television audience is estimated to exceed over 250 million viewers.
The float will be displayed for public viewing in the week leading up to the parade as the final flowers are attached in the Phoenix Decorating barn located on the grounds of the Rose Bowl. After the parade, all floats will be staged in Pasadena Park for an additional 48 hours.
RFD-TV, a United States satellite and cable television channel focused on rural issues, concerns, and interests, will produce and air a one-hour special, “The Making of the ‘One Nation’ Float” on New Year’s morning, beginning at 10 a.m., EST, followed by RFD-TV’s live coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade.
Brule’ is on tour during the winter months, making stops for a holiday concert in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Pikes Peak Center on December 18, 2010. Following the Tournament of Roses Parade, the group returns to Denver, Colorado, and the Indian Market on January 21-23, 2011. Scheduling is available at www.indianmarket.net.
On February 25-27, Brule’ will perform at the Great Fair Art Festival in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Scheduling and information is available at www.fountainhillschamber.com. In the spring of 2011, the group returns to the stage of RFD-TV Theater in Branson, Missouri. I plan to take my seat in their spacious theater.
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Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com