Dana Hubbard
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Dana Hubbard

Berkeley, California, United States

Berkeley, California, United States
Band Blues Singer/Songwriter

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"Dana Hubbard's Central Coast Blues"

By Brett Leigh Dicks

When it comes to blues music, Dana Hubbard takes it to the extremes. While he now tours the nation performing as a blues-infused acoustic-based artist, he began as an electric practitioner within the bustling blues bars of San Francisco in the mid-Seventies. It was while he was adding some color to his first album that the California native reacquainted himself with the acoustic guitar which then led to his evolution into a singer-songwriter of considerable merit. Hubbard honed his craft at festivals and competitions across the country and glowing accolades quickly followed. During his considerable career, Hubbard has shared the stage with some illustrious company, but this month finds him taking to the enchantingly intimate surrounds of Trinity Backstage. While the licks he will no doubt unleash might not wail with an electric resonance, the mastery with which they will be projected will be a sight well worth experiencing.


I believe you grew up on the Californian central coast …

I was born in Stockton, California, and my folks moved to Monterey when I was only a year old. I grew up in Monterey,then went to school in Santa Cruz, and then moved to Bay Area and started playing music. So, I am Californian through and through.

How does someone raised on the coast in California become such an aficionado of blues music?

Ha! Good question! My dad is a jazz musician, and he played jazz piano and taught music in the schools. When I was young, I kept bugging him about this music I was hearing on the radio that I didn’t know what it was. He told me it was the blues and taught me the basics of blues music. He taught me the pentatonic scale and the twelve bar pattern, and I started recognizing what in the music was really tugging at me. But, I don’t why that music speaks to some people in the way it does.

What was the experience of moving from Monterey to San Francisco to pursue music like?

It was quite a culture shock. But it was really a good time to be a musician. It was the mid-Seventies and, while I wish I had been there a decade earlier during the flower power revolution, it had a great scene. I did a lot of street singing and, then, I started getting into the clubs; eventually, I had a band and played live blues.

It seems like it was a case of right time and right place, because the blues really came to the fore again not long thereafter, didn’t it?

Right around the early eighties, a whole blues renaissance took off. The Texas blues stuff took off, George Thorogood came onto the scene, the Nighthawks were coming out of Washington DC, and the Thunderbirds breaking away from Texas.

You, of course, went on to play some very high profile shows with some incredible artists such as Etta James, Robert Cray, and Big Mamma Thorton, but can you look back with an eye of romanticism at the days you were belting out the blues in bars and saloons?

To tell you the truth, I was really proud to be making a living that way. There were a lot of people I knew who couldn’t. I just loved to play and I love playing the bars. There was also this amazing level of talent to play with. There would be all these players who would come off the road from playing with Santana and Chris Isaac and would just want to play. So, I was able to tap into an amazing level of players. And, boy, talk about kicking me in the butt to get a lot better fast!

How different for you as an artist is the experience of wielding an acoustic guitar, which you do now, compared to those days of blazing away on an electric instrument?

They are very much different. It was while adding some acoustic parts to my first CD that I rediscovered the acoustic guitar. The acoustic guitar is much harder to play well than the electric guitar. So, it became a huge challenge for me. Then, the acoustic singer-songwriter world came calling to me. I started out playing a lot of Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, so, as I started going back in that direction, I started becoming a little more jaded about being in the clubs; so, the move came at the right for me.

You have gathered a very impressive array of accolades for both performing and writing. How do those achievements resonate in terms of being a working musician?

The biggest way they resonate, and there is no understating this, is that they really help book shows. When you approach a venue, the basic question is why should we book you? So if you can come back and say,”well, I have won this and I have won that,” you are handing them references they know about, and they can get an idea of what you have done. Most promoters and bookers know how hard it is to win that stuff. They have to turn around and sell you to their audience and that helps them. So, in terms of booking shows, it’s huge.

And what does it offer you personally?

It gives you a lot of confidence to keep going.

I always find songwriting competitions and battles of the bands to be very fascinating because here are situations where you are weighing creativity against itself and trying to qualify it. Art is such a subject thing. What is it like to put yourself in that situation with a collective of your contemporaries?

When I started doing the national competitions, I started running into the same people over and over again, and I have made some really close friends. It is always emotionally difficult to lose. For me, I go to win, and when I lose, I do feel horrible. I allow myself a couple of hours to feel wretched, and then I get straight back to work. The festivals are where you do all the networking, so the competitions at the festivals are less important than making contacts. Something that is discussed in the competitions themselves is that dynamic you brought up of putting an artistic endeavor into a competitive environment. My response, like many people, is that it shouldn’t really be done. But, it provided me, and a lot of other artists, with a way to get out there that we never would have had and that’s where the value is. It allows me to go out there and be seen and heard in ways I could never have otherwise.

And there is a great legacy of that, isn’t there?

It is very interesting. Go back and look through the past years of the Kernville Folk Festival and see who won and even the people that didn’t win but were finalists. It includes people like Lyle Lovett and Slaid Cleaves. It goes to show you that they were unknown at that point, and it really helped get them out there. It wasn’t until I started competing that I really found out just how good you have to be. Those experiences have really pushed me as a songwriter.

You have shared a stage with some incredible people – Jesse Winchester, Sam Bush, David Wilcox – do you get to be fan in those situations, or does the artist in you exert a presence and you dissect their performances?

That’s a great question. First and foremost, I am an absolute fan. But, when I watch someone like Jesse Winchester, it’s hard not to be in total awe of the guy. I played with him in September, and I am telling you I was at the feet of a master and was going to school. There is such an art to his performance, and it is so thrilling to watch people who are that good and sit there knowing that is exactly what I am aspiring to do.


- Music Sounds of Santa barbara


"Press Quote Summary"

Dana's opened for . . .
Chris Isaak
Little Feat
Gregg Allman (Allman Bro.s Band)
Robert Cray
David Wilcox
Jorma Kaukonen
Joe Ely
Etta James
John Hammond
David Lindley
Sam & Dave
Junior Walker
Albert King
Norton Buffalo
David Bromberg
Peter Wolf
Roy Rogers
Johnny A
Charlie Musselwhite
James Cotton
Joe Luis Walker

"Soulful singer/songwriter, first rate acoustic guitar player, scorching electric blues guitar"
-METRO Music review Santa Cruz, CA.

“The team of harmonica and guitar together is impressive. His voice may be the best thing yet.”
RPM MAGAZINE -Live review San Francisco, CA.

“He’s got soul and can write a song.”
BAM MAGAZINE -CD review Los Angeles, CA.

“Exactly what we look for to keep the integrity of the Bay Area music scene’s reputation on the rise.”
Bill Evans / Music Director -KFOG 104.5 San Francisco, CA.

Strong vocals, stunning guitar, impressive songwriting, he draws on influences from Blues & American
roots to Celtic & World influences. Crossing all the boundaries, he revels in letting the music play the
musician and his exciting performances are rich in nuance and steeped in jaw-dropping skill & delivery!

- and Other Info.


"Feature: "The Grounds Keepers""

Dana Hubbard was the best performer at the recent Tucson Folk Festival. I was knocked out by his guitar playing and vocal delivery. He tunes his vintage acoustic guitar down from E to C# (a minor third), resulting in powerful bass, amplified with a custom pickup configurations.

On "The Grounds Keepers," just released, Hubbard opens with loose, spacious guitar styling and powerful singing. The entire recording is clear and transparent. He is a confident solo artist: singer, player, songwriter.

He has a rich bass voice that ranges up to bright, high baritone. Occasional harmony overdubs aren't as effective as Hubbard's solo singing. There's also a bit of harmonica, for occasional accent.

I can't easily tell when he's using open tuning versus conventional guitar tuning, because his fingering, slide work, and pluck-strumming are constantly changing in an inventive way. He can make one guitar sound overdubbed!

Most of the tracks on "The Grounds Keepers" are variations on I-IV-V blues chord progressions, without being conventional or static. These are *original* singer-songwriter selections. Complaint: ten tracks are too few, Dana. Give us more, please — for musical value, not just $$ value.

Thematically, his lyrics are biased toward political outrage and social indictment. Hubbard is a storyteller who makes his point without ramming it into the listener's brain cells. Music is always foremost; this isn't a polemic.

Dana Hubbard is a terrific live performer, and a very good recording artist. Either way, it's worth hearing him just for the guitar playing, so his vocals are a bonus. Double-thumb picking style is his foundation. Two favorites are "Woody's Guitar," the first song, and "Time Twister," an instrumental that is the final track on "The Grounds Keepers."

Seek out Dana Hubbard and his music. Tell him Nemo sent you.

by: John Nemerovski
Columnist, Reviews Editor
Tuesday, 07/08/08

http://www.mymac.com/showarticle.php?do=something&id=2663

- John Nemerovski for MyMac Magazine


"from Diane Clerihue-Smith / Column: "The Girl on Grapes""

"The mic and musical gear were all set up, ready to
go and we arrived just a few minutes before the amazing Dana Hubbard
got started. I do not have enough space here to adequately sing the
praises of Dana Hubbard in the way he deserves (that would be an entire column)
so suffice it to say he is a very talented guitar and harmonica
player and singer /songwriter. His gift is apparent and he knows
how to share it beautifully with a crowd."

Full Article below:
Wineries are more then a place to make and taste wine. And for me
it is not just the great wine that makes me happy, but all the
beautiful experiences that become available when wineries abound.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, wineries are a terrific place
to spend an afternoon picnicking. They can offer a superb venue for
spending time appreciating the arts too. Wineries often host different
events such as concerts or art exhibits that seem to pair splendidly
with not only wine, but with the beauty of the vineyards. Some times
these events are restricted to the host wineries’ wine club members,
but often are open to the general public. A well planned event at a
beautiful winery with terrific wine, friendly upbeat winery owners
hosting, and delicious food is an evening not soon forgotten. It can
even turn magical! My husband and I had just that kind of experience
this weekend.

This magical event occurred Saturday night at MarshAnne Landing Winery.
I have already mentioned MarshAnne Landing Winery in this column as a
stellar place to picnic and about their excellent wines so it makes
sense they would also be the perfect setting for the event we attended
last weekend. Their beautiful tasting room with hand crafted quilts,
stained glass and other art adorning the walls looked as lovely as ever
and the french doors to the patio were open bringing the stunning pastoral
and vineyard view inside. Their were tables of finger food, very well
presented and very tasty indeed. About 40 or so people were sitting
out on the deck with plates of food and glasses of wine, chatting and
enjoying the view. The mike and musical gear were all set up, ready to
go and we arrived just a few minutes before the amazing Dana Hubbard
got started. I do not have enough space here to adequately sing the
praises of Dana Hubbard in the way he deserves (that would be an entire column)
so suffice it to say he is a very talented guitar and harmonica
player and singer /songwriter. His gift is apparent and he knows
how to share it beautifully with a crowd. Dana’s talent, the setting,
the view, the food, the lovely wine, and the other guests made a
terrific combination. Adding to that, Greg and Fran, owners of
MarshAnne Landing were ideal hosts. Fran with her easy going,
easy to smile way and Greg with his intensity and passion for
life and all things beautiful, added the playful, “enjoy life
and don’t take it too seriously”, component that took the evening
from wonderful to magical!

We are a small budding wine region with our just twenty wineries.
Most of our wineries are very small and many just getting started.
So wine events like this one are not always abundant. But they are
out there. The same evening we had this magical event at MarshAnne
Landing, Reustle Prayer Rock Vineyards hosted a musical event of
their own at their beautiful winery. Having two events of this
caliber to choose from suggests there are many magical times
available for all of us living or visiting our beloved area.
If you are lucky enough to live here, take advantage of the magic!
- DOUGLAS COUNTY NEWS JULY 23, 2008 -Sutherlin, OR.


Discography

LIGHTNIN'S CADILLAC -2012
THE GROUNDS KEEPERS -2008
LIIVIN' LIVE -2002
TUMMY LUST -1997

CDs available at CDBaby.com
MP3s available at iTunes,com

Photos

Bio

Winner of the TELLURIDE BLUES & BREWS FESTIVAL's Acoustic Blues Competition and the INDIE INTERNATIONAL Songwriting Contest for Folk/Acoustic - Spring/Summer '09, as well Ashland Blues Society's Road to the IBC '10, Dana Hubbard's been described as ”a cross between Bruce Cockburn and Jorma Kaukonen". He combines the socially conscious singer/songwriter with the master acoustic blues guitarist, awing people with guitar skills that defy the ear and eye. The list of folks he's opened for and shared the bill with span the spectrum from blues to folk to bluegrass: Jesse Winchester, Sam Bush, David Wilcox, Greg Allman, Etta James, Little Feat, Robert Cray, Albert King, Charlie Musselwhite, Joe Ely, John Hammond, Chris Isaak, David Lindley... Dana was born and raised on the Central Coast of California, attended UC Santa Cruz only long enough to finish an elective course on country blues, then hit the road and never looked back.

With his acoustic guitar, he busked the streets of Berkeley and San Francisco. He eventually put together his own band, The Delta Twisters which he led for over a decade in the burgeoning Blues scene playing clubs, juke-joints, biker-bars. By the time Dana moved on to bigger venues and theatres, the guitar in hand had become electric and he began sharing the stage with legends like Albert King, James Cotton and Etta James and opening shows for artists like Greg Allman, Chris Isaak and Robert Cray. All that performance experience culminated in his first CD release, "Tummy Lust" which showcases his guitar skills as well as his songwriting.

Dana returned to the acoustic guitar as his instrument of choice with the release of his second CD "Livin' Live". What Dana does with the guitar, using only his hands is amazing to watch and a joy to listen to. You hear the bass and the back beat rhythm along with the melody and chords. If you look around for his backup guitar, you won't find one. This is Dana, performing solo. On his CD "The Grounds Keepers" each track is a single guitar performance with no overdubs, no re-makes. What you hear is a singer/songwriter front and center, addressing issues of environmentalism and social injustice in a voice that sometimes growls, sometimes he lilts or laughs, but he's always got a little twinkle in his eye. He has a social activist soul with a bluesman's grin. On his fourth CD, the 2012 “Lightnin’s Cadillac”, he’s presenting some of the songs that won awards, some new originals, and some performance favorites, originally done in an electric format, here recorded in an acoustic setting.

Dana Hubbard has appeared at these major events and festivals:
2011 Mountain Music Festival July 15-17, 2011 -Snowbird (Salt Lake City) UT.
2011 Tucson Folk Festival Apr. 30 - May 1, 2011 -Tucson AZ.
2011 International Blues Challenge Feb. 1-5, 2011 -Memphis TN
2010 American River Music Festival Sept. 17-19, 2010 -Coloma CA.
2010 Mountain Music Festival July 9-11, 2010 -Snowbird (Salt Lake City) UT.
2010 Tucson Folk Festival May 1-2, 2010 -Tucson AZ.
2009 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival Sept, 18-20, 2009 -Telluride, CO
2009 Mountain Music Festival July 10-12, 2009 -Snowbird (Salt Lake City) UT
2009 Wildflower Festival May 16-17, 2009 -Richardson (Dallas) TX
2009 Tucson Folk Festival May 2-3, 2009 -Tucson AZ.
2008 Humboldt Hills Hoedown Sept. 28, 2008 -Garberville, CA
2008 American River Music Festival Sept. 19-21, 2008 -Coloma CA
2008 Founders Folk & Bluegrass Festival July 11-13, 2008 -Salt Lake City UT
2008 Tucson Folk Festival May 3-4, 2008 -Tucson AZ.
2007 Tucson Folk Festival May 5-6, 2007 -Tucson AZ.
2005 South Florida Folk Festival Jan. 14-16, 2005 -Ft. Lauderdale FL