Brule performs Native American holiday concert


November 20th, 2012

Omaha, NE РJust in time for the holidays is a special concert by the contemporary Native American ensemble, Brul̩.

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This weekend, Brulé and the American Indian Rock Opera will perform “A Brulé Holiday” at the Orpheum Theater. Founding member Paul LaRoche says the name Brulé is a reference to his own discovered heritage as a Lakota Sioux. “I am a member of the Lower Brulé Sioux tribe of South Dakota,” LaRoche said. “We’ve adopted the name Brulé as an inclusive name for our performance group.”

LaRoche describes Brulé’s sound as “Contemporary Native American Music,” blending Native American and Western music and utilizing traditional Native American instruments like the wood flute or drum. However, Brulé does more than just play Native American instruments. It strives to connect the cultures on a fundamental level. “The Native American culture, it actually goes much deeper than that,” LaRoche said. “It has a spiritual significance.”

Brulé and the American Indian Rock Opera will perform “A Brulé Holiday” at the Orpheum Theater Saturday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. (Photo courtesy Brule Records)

“Our traditional drums are always transported in certain ways,” he said. “Tobacco is used to bless the drum before every performance. So we have special things that we have to adhere to as a Native American group to keep that connection with our culture. And, honestly, to keep the respect of our elders as well.”

When fusing these cultural elements, Brulé has been very selective in what it brings in from nontraditional sources. For the holiday concert, the group selected songs with cross-cultural appeal, like “Greensleeves” and “Little Drummer Boy.”

“We’ve looked for a song that has something in its title or something in its composition or melody that lends to a connection with the culture,” LaRoche said.

The performance at the Orpheum Theater Saturday will also feature a fusion of visual and theatrical elements from both cultures. One example is a scene called the Red Nativity, similar to the iconic Christmas story, but with minor changes. “We bring the child gifts, but they’re natural gifts.” LaRoche said. “There’s sage and sweetgrass, and a small traditional hand drum.”

These are “things that may have been passed along in our culture hundreds of years ago when a child was born,” he said.

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