Mar. 06, 2013 - Issue #907: Garbage Goes Green
'I'm easily bored; I'm one of those people that has to be constantly taking in information," laughs Kat Danser.
The local blues musician, who made the life-altering switch to pursuing music in 2009 after spending 25 years as a social worker, is now working towards her PhD in ethnomusicology, which she expects to complete by 2016. Danser has recently completed her course work, or the first of five burning hoops as she puts it, and is currently learning the Sri Lankan language Sinhalese to prepare for the next hurdle: travelling to the country to spend a year researching female drummers and dancers.
Danser's interest in women in music runs deep. After catching the blues bug in her 30s, Danser began immersing herself in the traditional Delta blues from Mississippi, later travelling to the state to research fife and drum for her master's thesis. She points out that women, and black women such as Ma Rainey, in particular, were among the founders of the genre, but women's stories have been watered down over the years, with broken hearts and yearning love taking over as the dominant focus.
"Other than someone's been dumped or someone fell in love, we don't know a lot about what women are concerned about in their lives," Danser states, ticking off poverty, domestic violence and parenthood as examples that are seldom used as songwriting inspiration. "We're not unidimensional people."
However, she acknowledges that blame for this can't be laid at the feet of anyone else, as she believes women often limit themselves in their abilities as musicians and songwriters, succumbing to the role they have been typecasted into. To shine a light on the stories hidden beneath, Danser is working on a documentary, along with Buffalo Gal Pictures out of Winnipeg, titled Women In Blues: Turn The Page.
"There's only ever been one documentary that focused on women in blues, and that's amazing, y'know?" she says with a sense of astonishment. "I really want to draw attention to the women who aren't winning over social media through votes, to the women who are out there in the community working with youth emergency shelters, bringing blues into schools, teaching children how to write about their emotions—how to forward that to music—women who are writing about real events in their lives."
Danser has always pushed to incorporate this confessional approach to her own music, an attribute she is refining further as she works towards her forthcoming album, Bapitized by Mud, due out in 2014. Always one to take the first-person approach to her storytelling, Danser will be delving into personal stories and her relationships with early blues artists and those who inspire her.
"For the first time ever in my recording life, I will be doing some of my own interpretations of other people's music from early blues," Danser says. "The second thing I really want to do with this project is catch more of my spontaneity ... I'm a real eternal optimist and a very happy person, and I want to capture that in the studio; my joy when I perform."
Sat, Mar 9 (8 pm)
Expressionz Café, $20
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