Kathleen Dunbar
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Kathleen Dunbar

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

San Francisco, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Americana Blues

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Sep
06
Kathleen Dunbar @ Rudramandir: A Center for Spirtuality and Healing

Berkeley, California, United States

Berkeley, California, United States

Jul
27
Kathleen Dunbar @ Peri's Saloon

Fairfax, California, United States

Fairfax, California, United States

Music

Press


"Must Have Music"

Kathleen Dunbar
Finally Home
Sing Like A Bird Music
This 17-track album focuses on the vocal prowess of Dunbar and
the melody of the tunes, rather than instrumentation. It balances
a fun, folksy sound reminiscent of songs passed down through
generations and the folk of the 60s and 70s. Dunbar’s voice is
soothing and the songs are entertaining. - Girlistic Magazine


"Finally Home by Kathleen Dunbar"

Kathleen Dunbar sings in a staccato falsetto that eerily recalls Joni Mitchell’s best work. Her voice is high, sweet and thin like a reed instrument, subsuming the sharper edges of words into a breathy trill.

But unlike Mitchell, Dunbar doesn’t just stick to folk music on her new album, Finally Home. Her outstanding accompanists play all kinds of instruments: guitar, mandola, banjo, fiddle, Irish whistle, trombone. One track even features a theramin. Using their fierce and apparently endless instrumental talents as a backdrop, Dunbar travels from lilting Celtic-inspired tunes, to New Age-ish wailings, to chatty folk songs.

However, my favorite songs on the album are the country-style tracks. When she’s backed by Gawain Mathews’ low-country twang, Dunbar’s pretty voice gets a little tougher, a little warmer, and a lot more fun. She’s at her very best on a song called “Red Boots,” a long narrative tune about a country girl growing up and learning to pick a man. The song is funny, sweet and foot-stomping, a promising example of the things Dunbar is capable of.
This is a great album by a talented musician who, like the heroine in “Red Boots,” is going places fast..

Favorite Track: “Red Boots” - Online Rock


"The Storm in Our Head"

With "The Storm in Our Head" Kathleen Dunbar (and her [literally] amazing band of talented Devils) achieves a rare and utterly unique blend of musical and lyrical symmetry. Kathleen's songs find themselves warmly at home in the singer/songwriter tradition - thoughtful, well-honed, melodic expressions of love, regret, and hope interwoven with stories of religion, revenge, longing, and devotion - at once instant and abstract, personal and universal. Song-by-song the project builds on these themes, balancing emotional delicacy with the grit and sex of authentic shuffle blues (see the opening track - "Everybody Knows"), and an impressive and effective arsenal of world-music influences. The Better Devils employ it all - jazz, americana, even hints of Bossa Nova and traditional Celtic ballad - giving flesh and bone to the images evoked by Kathleen's mellifluous voice. The result is a group of seventeen songs that work together, both holistically and individually. Clearly, no small feat. Kathleen Dunbar and The Better Devils is a San Francisco band that has found itself. "The Storm in Our Head" proves it. Highly recommended! - Russell David


""Musical Purity Rarely Found These Days""

There’s a purity in singer-songwriter Kathleen Dunbar’s voice rarely found these days in a world full of husky, weathered voices. Reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s early work, Dunbar’s Finally Home is a beautiful collection of 17 songs woven within the genres of folk, jazz, celtic, and country. Dunbar’s knack for songwriting is immediately evident on “The Circle Returns to the Place Where it Starts," a catchy number describing the cycle of life. Irish whistle accompanies the track, giving it an additional lilt that leaves you smiling.

Let the long road end in a homecoming
Hard road let it end in the heart
You belong here my dear
Always remember the circle returns to the place where it starts ...

Dunbar quickly switches it up on “Invocation," a haunting Middle-Eastern themed prayer featuring the fiddle and djembe. You can tell she’s not just singing words here, she’s sharing a spiritual experience. That’s one of the reasons this album is so enjoyable, nothing’s put on here for show; it’s all believable.

It’s on sunshiny folk numbers though where Dunbar sounds most at home like on “I Send Out My Love” (featuring a group chorus on the refrain), “Red Boots," and “Round and Round." Not to say she’s not just as talented crossing other genres, it’s just the purity of her voice shines best on simple instrumental arrangements (one of the reasons an a capella number like “Sweet Rain” is heaven to the ears).

The title inspiring track, “You’re Finally Home," is a touching number about finding oneself, where Dunbar’s letter perfect vibrato dances joyfully with an irish whistle.

You told me let your heart break
You told me you’re safe now
You told me we’ve taken you in
You never have to do it by yourself again
You made it love, you’re finally home ...

Dunbar’s debut album is to be applauded for its originality, cohesiveness, and polished musicianship. If this album were a book, I'd read it again and again from start to finish, each chapter introducing yet another dimension of Dunbar’s musical vision. - Skott Freedman


"Kathleen Dunbar's Latest Album, The Storm in Our Head"

Music Emissions Review: Listening to Ohio raised San Francisco based Kathleen Dunbar's latest album, The Storm in Our Head recently has just renewed my appreciation for story-telling songs. It's rare nowadays to come across a catalog that connects several generations of music and harkens back to a gamut of genres- bluegrass, Americana, blues, folk songs from the "olde country" (where ever that is in your head) and even Latin jazz.

Before e-books, readers, laptops and even written word, this album reminds the listener, songs were what we had and really all we needed to pass along tales of love, forlorn loss, morality and hidden life metaphors. A theatrical poetess emerges from the first note to take the listener's hand on an interesting character journey. What happens to the heroine when "a superhero can't stop the wreck?"

Displaying pieces of Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Alannah Myles, June Carter and Carole King, the tempo rides several raucous hills and quiet valleys from hand-clapping, knee-slapping, 60's twisting, 70's classic rock to a slow Tennessee waltz. A dichotomous Black Magic Woman/"Sweet Carline"/"Snake Charmer" and wounded, bruised victim that will take the hit ("this is the part where I get a broken heart") but will triumphantly rebound. Straying from the others, "Blue Tattoo" was an unexpected "smoky club, gardenia in hair" surprise in the Latin bossa nova vein. The contrasting genres mix beautifully to form a potent eye of the "storm" to which you'll gladly be swept. - Music Emissions


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

About My Music

Hello. This is Kathleen Dunbar, and I'd like to tell you a little bit about my artistic interpretation of life as I express it in my music. You may notice that many of my songs are about angels and devils, birth, life, death, about creation and crumbling destruction. These are stories about us as we face the circumstances we humans get ourselves into and the choices that we ultimately make--some of them funky, some of them ending in the dark, others rising into the light of morning. Touching, humorous, spellbinding storytelling, my songwriting brings you into the irony, the tragedy, and the possibilities of life. It's about people and the life that happens to us. Quite a potent story cocktail, this being human.


I try to hold on
I turn around and I find its all gone
There's angels and devils wont leave me alone
Makin bets on which road I follow back home


And the medicine: to love ourselves, including our shadow, as well as our light.

The Better
Devils


Gawain Mathews gigs with me as my guitarist and banjo player. His magic thread runs all through the music you hear. He's my arranger and producer. On my CDs he plays guitar, mandola, banjo, keyboards, accordion and percussion. Gawain hails from the wilds of Wales and the hot deserts of Utah (he prefers clouds to sun). He brings multiple skills as producer and arranger and years of musicianship in a wide range of styles. Most recently he's been touring as guitarist for Mickey Hart. He was raised on folk music, played guitar with the Utah Symphony, has toured in the US, Australia and Europe with a variety of folks and has had his original music featured on Fox's American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. Currently he's a music producer in the San Francisco Bay working with a diverse roster of clients and styles. 

Dan Feiszli gigs with me as my bassist and he plays bass on my CDs too. Experienced on both upright and electric basses, Dan is a versatile performer in styles of music ranging from jazz and latin to pop and rock. He has performed in concert with such notable artists as James Moody, Raul Midon and Mickey Hart, and toured nationally and internationally with artists including Julio Iglasias, Nicole Yarling and Raul DiBlasio. In addition to his career as a performer, Dan is featured on hundreds of recordings as both a bassist and recording engineer, and has recorded and mixed albums reaching as high as #4 on the US Top 40 Jazz Radio Charts. In between performances and recording sessions, Dan can be found working as a freelance recording engineer and producer at his studio in El Cerrito, California.

Kevin Hayes gigs with me as drummer. Kevin is a San Francisco Bay Area based drummer and songwriter, probably best known for his 20 years as the drummer for The Robert Cray Band. During his time with Cray from 1989-2008, he recorded 9 studio albums, including the 1999 Grammy winning Take Your Shoes Off, as well as a double live disc recorded at London's Royal Albert Hall. He has played on records by John Lee hooker, B.B. King, and Van Morrison, among many others. His live show credits include performances with B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Tracy Nelson, Allen Toussaint, Jon Hendricks, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmy Vaughan, Lee Dorsey, Curtis Salgado, Bonnie Hayes, Roy Rogers, The Delta Rhythm Kings, and many others. In addition, he has recorded and toured extensively with the British blues guitarist and vocalist Matt Schofield. 

Band Members