About Kathleen Dunbar

Hello. This is Kathleen, 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. My experiences have lead me to believe that universal truths apply to everyone because emotionally we share the same need to be loved. I feel we are simultaneously angels and devils, alive and dying, creating and destroying. We want to be loved, understood and accepted—and sometimes we go into crazy gyrations and odd pathways in that very human search. The stories in these songs speak to our hidden desires, our shadow side, our untarnishible gold, our poison and our medicine. When we deny our beauty, our joy, our creativity, our rage and sorrow—we become: Consumed. Addicted. Enthralled. Entranced. And then…by the hand of grace and the sweet mystery of our souls we may also Resurrect ourselves, Transform, Love and Blossom again. As far as the angels and the devils, there are different times in our lives when we are both. The wisdom is not to be one or the other. They are just energies we learn (or not!) to use. The wisdom is knowing when to be one or the other. Sometimes you have to stand fast and use the muscles in your arms that are made to hold the boundary. Sometimes you have to take yourself away from the situation as your absence will make the poison stop. And sometimes you have to remember that you are fundamentally and unequivocally loveable, that people do love you, and that you need to love them back. And take them and be taken into their arms. Quite a potent story cocktail, this being human. When we are confronted with authentic prosperity, the thing that we’d like to do but don’t, what we wish for but won’t let ourselves receive, we allow ourselves to be eaten up by the dark of our own shadow, bumbling and unconscious and afraid, lost in the Underworld. I try to hold on I turn around and I find it’s all gone There’s angels and devils won’t 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.

My ambient-trance album Medicine Songs is NOMINATED FOR AN AWARD!

My ambient, trance, journey music project—my CD entitled Medicine Songs by my shaman-singer pseudonym Blue Lilah has been nominated in TWO categories for the upcoming Just Plain Folks Music Awards!   

Brian Whitney, CEO and Founder of Just Plain Folks, writes of the nomination, “It’s a big deal: 17K albums and 240K songs were entered for the current awards, which cover the expanse of time since the last awards in 2009.”

  • Nominated for Best World Music Album is Blue Lilah’s album Medicine Songs by Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews. TO LISTEN TO THE MEDICINE SONGS ALBUM and BUY IT click: https://bluelilah.com/store
  • Nominated for Best World Music Song is the song Bleyso from Blue Lilah’s album Medicine Songs by Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews. To LISTEN TO AND BUY BLEYSO click: Listen to Bleyso

Blue Lilah’s music is my offering to you to celebrate yourself in the dance that is the connection of all life. It is a gifting of my music, voice, energy, and sounds for your pleasure. It is my invitation to you, my listeners, to dive into a healing journey. Please use it in whatever forms “move” you!—Dance, meditation, journeying, relaxation, movement exploration, yoga, birthing, healing! Who is Blue Lilah? Imagine being taken on a journey in the dream language of a medicine woman, with luscious percussion, backwards guitar, a whale’s voice, a thunderstorm . . . and that’s just the first song!

Blue Lilah’s website is bluelilah.com

Photos by Tamarind Free Jones

YEAH! My latest all-original, americana-bluesy-rootsy CD “Liars, Cutthroats and Dames” IS HERE!

Hello Everybody! This is Kathleen Dunbar with BIG NEWS! As some of you may know or have heard—my latest americana-bluesy-rootsy CD Liars, Cutthroats and Dames has been in it’s final stages of completion: Well, I’m happy to announce to you that it is officially finished and I am RELEASING IT out into the world!

MY NEW CD IS HEREit is available for you all RIGHT NOW!

FREE DOWNLOAD:
I am so excited that I want to give you all an opportunity to sample it for free, so here we go with a FREE DOWNLOAD of the first track, Lilah, just for you. Here’s the link to get your free download:
             https://kathleendunbarmusic.com/get-a-free-download-here

HOW TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE CD:
You can listen to complete tracks of the entire album at this link on my Store page: https://www.kathleendunbarmusic.com/store  You can listen to all of the songs on the album three times for free before being prompted to purchase, or you can find me on Spotify for continued streaming. You can purchase the album via Itunes, Amazon, etc. simply by visiting the links on my website Store page. In addition to offering a digital download, you can also order a physical CD from CDBaby—again, right there on my Store page.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM: Of course, all the songs are originals written by me! With each song I take you on a different journey. This new album departs from my previous two Americana CDs—I dive deeper and delve further into the dark and the light side of the human psyche, and I’ll make you feel, think, and sometimes laugh out loud!

Please come and join me on this musical journey! I’d love to hear your opinions and comments! Please let me know what you think and feel about my new CD Liars, Cutthroats and Dames by dropping me a line at:  kathleen@kathleendunbarmusic.com  I send out a monthly newsletter with fun stories, tidbits and gossip about the songs and the amazing musicians on this CD. I also let you know about upcoming shows. To sign up for my newsletter, just use that same band email at kathhleen@kathleendunbarmusic.com

And hey, if you’d like, I’m available to do a house concert at your house if you live in the SF Bay Area! These are fun, warm, intimate, unforgettable gatherings.

BIG THANKS AND LOVE TO THE AWESOME MUSICIANS:
I want to thank the incredible musicians who helped me bring my original songs to life!

That’s me, Kathleen Dunbar/Songwriting and Vocals. And my incredible band which is called The Better Devils, is: Gawain Mathews/guitars, electric bass, banjo, mandola, keyboards, accordion, percussion, backing vocals. KyleCaprista/drums. Dan Feiszli/standup bass. Nicholas Daniel Wlodarszyk/trombone. Eric Levy/piano on Baby Put Your Red Shoes On. Rich Armstrong/trumpet. Bryan S. Dyer/backing vocals. MJ Lee./violin. Joseph Feusi/backing vocals. Big thanks and love to Joseph Feusi, Raz Kennedy and the incredible multitalented Gawain Mathews who is my producer, arranger, mixer and angel in general!

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD:
Please feel free to forward this to anyone who you feel would like to accompany me on this musical journey. Thank you in advance for your support, my dears!

Love, Kathleen

Photos by Joseph Feusi

The Battle

The Battle

Here is a free verse style poem I wrote when I was sixteen years old. Here also is a photo of me, teenage Kathleen in my favorite forest green fedora hat.

At the bottom of this article you will also see a photo of the poem printed in the first literary journal ever created in my high school. I couldn’t believe there had never been a literary journal, so I created one! I called the journal Methinks. The cover illustration of the first edition portrayed a cartoon man with a large nose sitting on a stone with his chin on his fist—my version of Rodin’s The Thinker.

I made myself the Editor and I gave my friends the jobs of Secretary, Treasurer, and “Staff.” I figured those positions would look good on our resumes when we graduated and went off to college or began looking for jobs. I solicited poems from all my friends—many of us were the weird literary types, and this journal was a way for us to shine.

I was told by the principal’s office that I needed to supply money for the paper and the mimeograph ink. For those of you not in the know, the mimeograph is an ancient technology which rendered damp pages of copy laboriously turned by hand from a drum. The fresh pages needed to be handled carefully or the ink would smudge, a lavender variety of ink redolent of a chemical perfume known to school kids in the seventies. I promptly organized a bake sale on the town square which paid for two editions of ink and paper.

My favorite high school English teacher was Mr. Toth. As an adult, I’d searched in vain for him for many years, but back east Robert Toth is a common name—there were 40 Robert Toths in the phone book in Ohio alone, and I wasn’t sure he even lived there anymore. In more recent years I looked him up on the computer, but he wasn’t a person who put himself on Facebook or had a web page. His whereabouts remained a mystery to me.

Out of the blue, one day a few years ago Mr. Toth found me on the internet! He’d been cleaning out boxes and found some papers I’d given him as a teen. He decided to search me out. He googled Kathleen Dunbar and was lead to my music website. He knew he’d found me. He emailed me and we were soon speaking on the phone.

How strange to be asked to call him by his first name, Robert. He told me that when he was in bookstores, he’d look around to see if there was a poetry book by me—he was sure that I would become a famous poet! How very, very moving it was to hear how this man had held dear my gifts for all these years!

It was a delight to be speaking with him at last! I had always wanted to thank him for the worlds he’d opened up to me, and now I did. One was a world of literature. He knew enough about writing to help me on my path as a budding writer. Another was a world of human relationship in which a sane adult encouraged a creative young person, and importantly, as all great teachers do, in this process and without making a big deal about it (which my teen self wouldn’t have liked) he helped me to value my vision and myself. In our phone conversation I told him about the very toxic and dysfunctional home I gladly left every morning to lose myself in classes at high school. (High school was no picnic either, but it was better to be in the DMZ than the active combat zone). He was totally surprised to hear my home life had been difficult as I’d never told anyone that at the time.

Soon after our conversation I I received a thick envelope in the mail from Mr. Toth (I still can’t think of him as Robert) which contained the literary journal Methinks I’d created as well as some poems and reports. One of the poems I put in Methinks is the one below. The first person I’d showed the poem to, along with some other writing, was Mr. Toth, with a note that said, “I don’t know if you want to read these. They aren’t that interesting . . . but here they are.” He’d read this note aloud to me in our initial phone conversation, and chuckled. He told me when he read the poem all those years ago, that at first he found it hard to believe a sixteen year old in a small country town had written it. It crossed his mind that I’d stolen it from somewhere, but he knew me well and trusted that the work must be my own. He turned his astonishment into mentoring me as a writer. What I took from that mentoring was a belief and confidence in my own gifts, and a better ability to bear the difficulties at home and later to navigate the world of my adult life. Mr. Toth had believed in me. To be believed in is profound medicine, which continues to act as both vitalizing tonic and healing agent. Mr. Toth was one of those teachers whose support not only made life bearable, but worthwhile. There was a place, at last, for Kathleen.

I had begun at the age of three by making poems that rhymed. When I was fourteen I received a copy of Laurence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. That book set me upon the path of free verse. I still write poetry in free verse form, but I came full circle and returned to rhymes as my singer-songwriter self in the creation of my original songs: You can find my americana music at kathleendunbar.com and my ambient/world music in which I “create” a language at bluelilah.com

Many good hearted souls have helped me believe in my ability to write. This is the story of one of them. Thank you, Mr. Toth, for being part of a foundation of aliveness for me, for seeing my poetry as a doorway to a life of creation, and helping usher me through it.

Here, then, is young Kathleen’s poem.

The Battle

Arrows of white light flung
from afar from the bow of the might orb,
darted between the tender, green
leaves, and fell, broken shafts, upon
the forest floor. So quickly did those
piercèd arrows fly that one could
not perceive their movement, but
saw only the brilliance of their
fiery flight, whence the earth,
steaming before their furious flame,
bore them in her dark side, a wounded
warrior.
Roaming among those arrows,
I did not smell the rage of battle,
nor did I feel the sting of fiery arms.
The mist of combat was not choking,
but moist and wet, and soothed
the heat of battle that the barrage
of arrows brought.
I sat, and, amid this raging
battle, I slept.

© Kathleen Dunbar, age 16

Out West

when Mrs. Graham came out to California
bearing the maiden name I never knew
she looked out of the train window
into the flat stretches of Nebraska
and saw a man on a horse with a hat
“There‘s The Cowboy” she said to herself
and to me, years later,
“I was thrilled.”

© Kathleen Dunbar

Photos by Kathleen Dunbar

 

I am nominated in THREE categories for the Just Plain Folks Music Awards

I am excited and delighted to announce that I am nominated in THREE categories for the Just Plain Folks Music Awards, (exact date to be announced soon! I will be attending and can’t wait!)  It’s a big deal: 17K albums and 240K songs were entered for the current awards, which cover the expanse of time since their last awards in 2009.

  1. Nominated for Best World Music Album is my Blue Lilah album Medicine Songs by myself/Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews. To hear it click: LISTEN TO THE MEDICINE SONGS ALBUM
  2. Nominated for Best World Music Song is my song Bleyso from my Blue Lilah album Medicine Songs by myself/Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews. To hear the song click: LISTEN TO BLEYSO
  3. Nominated for Best Spoken Word Song from my Kathleen Dunbar americana-rootsy original album The Storm In Our Head is my track Snakecharmer. To hear it click: LISTEN TO SNAKECHARMER

To view the Just Plain Folks website: Just Plain Folks

Kathleen Dunbar’s original song Half of You Good begins Adriana Marchione’s film-in-progress “The Creative High”

The Creative HIgh

Here’s the link TO LISTEN TO an instrumental version MY ORIGINAL SONG “Half of You Good” (from my forthcoming album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames) opening Adriana Marchione’s film-in-progress The Creative High and watch Adriana Marchione’s coolio film in progress:
LINK: https://vimeo.com/171950766

Hey Folks,
Coolio filmmaker Adriana Marchione starts out her video of her film in progress on artists, their addiction and recovery with an instrumental version OF ONE OF MY NEW SONGS from my forthcoming album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames! So if you click on the link you can immediately hear my awesome producer and guitarist Gawain Mathews doing his amazing guitar rendition of my original song Half Of You Good. I’m also writing a novel, and this song explores the addiction of a gambler in the Old West. Pretty soon you can get to hear the complete version including me singing my lyrics as we only have to master all the tracks and then release it to the world!

THANK YOU ADRIANA for your important and very wonderful film project, and I am delighted each time I see more of it unfolding. I’m honored to have my music in your movie.

She’s also put my original music in her podcast! THANKS!

Adriana writes: “Our video of our film in progress – a sneak peek into our footage and the artists in recovery who have been brave enough to share their story. Extremely grateful for all the people who have contributed to make this video happen including musician Kathleen Dunbar, who generously offered her music to support the film project and The Creative High podcast. Visit Kathleen’s website at http://www.kathleendunbarmusic.com

Two of my Original Songs on KPOO Radio! Thursday March 24, 2016 from 1:00-2:00pm 89.5-FM

KD, ON AIR

DATE: Thursday 03/24/16   TIME: 1:00pm-2:00pm   WHERE: 89.5 KPOO-FM
You can also Tune in ANYWHERE on phone/desktop w/ the KPOO app at this LINK. 

I am excited to support the making of Adriana Marchione’s latest documentary film entitled The Creative Higha film about artists of all kinds submerged in and emerging from the addiction process. She will be interviewed on KPOO about what’s happening in her current process of creating this documentary, and she’s generously included playing two of my songs as part of the show: Half of You Good and Joytown, both off my upcoming CD Liars, Cutthroats and Dames! My fab partner Joseph Feusi is the film’s Producer. Thanks Adriana! You can read more details about her awesome and important project and follow the links to it by looking at the article directly below.

Meanwhile, please check out this Free Download of my song Hung Him On A Tree. It’s not yet mastered, but it’s one helluva cool sneak preview to my upcoming NEW CD “Liars, Cutthroats and Dames” which will be out SOON! To get a taste of my new album and this song, click this link: http://kathleendunbarmusic.com/downloadofhunghimonatreefree

KPOO

Here is film-maker Adriana Marchione’s statement about her upcoming documentary The Creative High: “Through art-making, I want to show the emotional depth and search for meaning that accompanies the struggle to recover from addiction. We need artistic role models who have made the passage to the other side of addiction to give hope to those who are still in the throes of addiction. This film will delve into the addict’s challenge to maintain equilibrium before and after recovery, and showcase the ways that art can be a guidepost. I have witnessed the creative process expand in recovery as well as diminish; experienced the dependence on the addiction as a muse that fuels a continued well-spring of altered art-making; and been awed by the abundant inspiration that art produces – allowing a ‘high’ to reveal itself through the sheer presence and attention to the present moment.” Here’s the link to the film project: The Creative High

The Creative HIgh

Coolio Links for Kathleen, Adriana and Joseph

Find Singer-Songwriter Kathleen Dunbar’s music at:  kathleendunbar.com

Find Filmmaker Adriana Marchione and the process of her new documentary-film-in-the-making at: thecreativehigh.com

Find Producer & Professional Mentor Joseph Feusi’s info at his website: motivational mentor.com