Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Up The Creek with Dan Patlansky

From Dan to Dirty, this year is good news for Blues…

Scenario: a weekend in the country, a winding river and good music. add the cream of the dop and a dirge of dirty musicians making clean sounds, and you’re Up The Creek

It's 2009 and the river rats are on a role – it’s their twenty fifth rapid and things are more real than rough.

Jezebel chatted to a talented blues boy who’s tweaked his tent on more than one friendly fest. Pretty prodigy Dan Patlansky tells about the Creek, skinny Blues and natural disasters.

jezebel : you’re an Up The Creek regular – what’s it like?

Dan : I did Up The Creek just in 2005 just before they lost their sponsorship and now I’m back this year. Oppi Koppi is huge, and Splashy Fen is, too. This festival is far smaller, it’s nicer. Oppi is impersonal. While it’s great playing in front of so many people, there’s an intimacy at up the creek.

jezebel : at bigger fests, there’s quite a separation between media, musicians and the audience. You can hang out with fans Up The Creek

Dan: Hundred percent it’s nice to be able to do that.

jezebel : Will you stick around at the fest?

Dan : Normally we’d like to chill for the weekend, but we have a show in Durbs the Friday and then the Sunday again, so we’re flying in and out.

jezebel : How do you cope with all this commuting between countries?

Dan : When I first started touring it was different. At 21, 22 you treated every night like a party on the road, coz it’s a new thing. But the older you get, well, your body doesn’t handle that so well. So when I hit the road now, I don’t drink hard every night, and I cut back on the smokes, and try to get to bed as early as possible. If you hit it hard in the first week, that two weeks feels like two years.

jezebel : How’s this year looking for you in terms of touring?

Dan : We tour extensively, I pretty much spend the entire year in the car. I’ve got a European tour June / July (their summer), which is going to be really cool. Before that national tours and surrounding countries - Swaziland etc.. Then maybe back to the states for the last half of the year. I used to live in new Orleans in 2005 but then I was involved in hurricane Katrina, so haven’t been back and with work permits being so costly, it’s not easy.

jezebel : How did Katrina affect you, and your music?

Dan : It was a complete shock; in SA you don’t see any natural disasters. I woke up one morning and my entire city had been evacuated and I was the last to know. There was nothing happening on the streets; that for me was the most terrifying for me. A bit of an ‘I am legend’ experience. There were tumbleweeds in the road and cars lying on the side of the road, doors open, keys in the ignition. So I went through the hurricane. I went to Mobile Alabama, it’s like Boksberg. I camped out there with no electricity and baked beans to eat. A cell phone yes, but you got through for every hundred times you dialed. My family in SA had no idea if I was alive. Eventually I got out, and flew to

LA where I have family. I realized that life is a short, fragile thing.

jezebel : you tend to move between Solos and drops.

Dan: yeah, when I’m doing a solo, or writing a song, I like to write everything with an extreme dynamic to it. Like yin and yang - really soft at one point of the song, then really loud. It creates interest in a song and interest in the solos. I try to play like a conversation – animated, then whispers, - that gets attention.

jezebel: Did you start singing when you started playing?

Dan: I put my first blues band together when I was sixteen, and couldn’t find someone to sing, so I started singing.

jezebel : blues is getting bigger. Upstart rockers, The Pretty blue Guns are starting to fuse indie sounds with blues. Getting the trendies to listen to something with a bit more soul.

Dan: That’s good news for blues, and just music in general. SA is a sad place sometimes when Bump 13 is the best selling album. There are really good bands out there, whether blues or not, it’s about human beings making music, not machines.

jezebel : And if the Pretty Blue Guns bring that, it’ll help fans grow with them

Dan: I’m experiencing that with our crowds. Years ago it used to be just our established fan base, and because we’re playing student towns like Potch, there are a lot of young people at our gigs. It’s great.

* * *

Dan Patlanksy will make his guitar cry, sing and swoon at six o’ clock on Saturday 7th February @ Up The Creek fest.

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