Barossa Fringe Special: Q&A with John Durr of Dream Boogie

Music/Performing Art - 22 Feb 2017 by Leah Blankendaal

scaled AdelaideFringe DreamboogiePicDreamboogie named themselves after a poem by Langston Hughes, the famous American poet, social activist and novelist. Many of his verse was based on Jazz and Blues, and the poem 'Dream Boogie' is amongst his best known. "Hey Daddy have you heard, the boogie woogie rhythm of a dream deferred" is the opening line of that work which refers to the rising, rumbling rhythm of a peoples' discontent - as true today as it ever was... and the Blues will always be the soundtrack.

The Dreamboogie band is fronted by Rebecca Davey, whose exciting performance champions the spirit of great female Blues singers.

1. What can audiences look forward to from your show?
The show is a journey into the ideas, political views and stories behind the Blueswomen of the 1920s-30s and the songs they sung. The songs are delivered with modern-day sensibilities, retaining the musical art/ style of the original musicians. It’s also a commentary on how things really haven’t changed that much in the last 100 years when it comes to society, politics and humanity in general.

2. Where did the idea for your show come from?
We used to listen to Bessie Smith in the tour bus. It was such a powerful sound, and all recorded with no amplification and quite scratchy and difficult to hear… but the sound delivered was still so intense. We wondered what it would sound like if they had microphones and amplification to work with… then wondered what it might sound like if a 2017 producer like Pharrell might have gotten his hands on it. That’s what we’ve tried to create. It’s a very specific style of playing & singing from that time – almost orchestral. The intricate arrangements creates a power that is not required of amplified bands who don’t usually need to play in between each other to be heard. When brought out with the clarity of sound available to us today, the sound is quite… otherworldly. It’s incredibly challenging, and amazingly fun to play.

3. Your most embarrassing moment on stage/in rehearsal?
You get over being embarrassed pretty quickly when you work on stage. I’ve fallen off countless stages, said inappropriate things at the wrong time, gotten my feathers caught in light fixtures, had sequin dresses come undone and have to be held up for the rest of the show by my bra straps alone.. you get very comfortable being yourself, and learn very quickly who you really are. You also learn not that as long as you are being authentic to your vision and yourself, there is really nothing to be embarrassed about.

4. Best interaction with an audience member?
The Dreamboogie audience is always very interactive – both at the shows, and via our social media. We love it! One fan sends us obscure 20s/ 30s Blueswomen CDs which are quite often worked into the show. In fact, one such song “Don’t Feel My Leg” has such a correlation with the recent US election that we put it out as a single. It’s doing quite well for us.

5. Favourite post-gig activity?
Meeting the fans, signing CDs and then… Sleeping. We’re usually back out on the road again early the next morning, so we have to wait until the tour is over before we get stuck into the bubbles. When we do, it’s French all the way.

6. What's the best thing about being an artist in the Fringe?
It’s a really wonderful thing to be a part of a festival promoting edgy art in this country. We were nominated for top three music show in the Melbourne Fringe Festival last year, and since then we’ve had a number of people mention that show at gigs all over the country. It’s been a great promotional opportunity for us. We’re very excited to be part of the Adelaide Fringe in 2017!

Catch Dreamboogie at performing Old Blues New Grooves at Barossa Valley Brewing.