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.

I am nominated in THREE categories for the August 2017 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, to be announced in L.A. in October, 2017 (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

Coming Into Town

A Benton Store - Version 6 Here I am, working on my Western novel, and we find The Rifleman as he rides into a town as a young man

I arrived in Dillardtown on a fine evening
having crossed a stony river
lined by cottonwoods
and provided with a sturdy bridge.
I came into the town downstream of a recent flood
for the main street gave evidence of the uppity nature
of the river which had left its banks and poured through the town
leaving great runnels and gouges drying into what should have been a thoroughfare
and instead was a mess.
Horses and wagons clunked and sucked through the street
men swore
one had lost his boot to the powers of the mud
and further on was his stocking.
The collection of financial establishments
was compressed into five blocks on either side of the mud.
Money changed hands between them at a furious pace.
Countless rough men struggled back and forth through the riverbottom
so that the mud covered every flooring in the town.
Here were assayer’s office, bank, saloons aplenty,
whorehouses fancy and plain, hotel, restaurants and chophouses;
there was the smell of mud, horses, food, shit, laundry steam,
piss, perfume if you paid for the parlor ladies,
and if a fellow saved enough after that grand round
he’d have himself shaved, might dip into a tin bath,
resupply at the drygoods and grocers his pans and shovels and vittles and ammunition,
pick up his horse or mule from the livery
and go stick it once again into the earth
who heaved her rocks and stones and broke his back if he was unlucky
or let him into her inner gleamings which he stole with both hands as fast as he could
and came to talk about it loudly in the town.

© Kathleen Dunbar

Here’s a poem set to music, another western-with-a-twist, on my CD The Storm in Our Head. It’s called “Snake Charmer.” Find it on Bandcamp or on my website, www.kathleendunbarmusic.com

Photo by Kathleen Dunbar

Japanese Tea Garden

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Japanese Tea Garden

I spent many years going to the
Japanese Tea Garden in
Golden Gate Park, writing poetry
and observing people. Over the
years I wrote down some of the
interesting things I heard people
saying—the quotes in the poem
are what people actually said!

The girl says, “I need sugar.”
Her mother in a loud voice says,
“You don’t need sugar. You want sugar.
You need air and water and food.”
“And sleep,” a smaller girl says,
a little sister.
“Yeah, you need sleep.”
I watch the furrow of the brows
in this family
from larger woman to smaller girl,
a field of worry.
I say to myself,
“You need love.”

Parents in the tea garden, to children:
“You can’t make too many wishes at once.”
“You don’t want to play in old water. It’s yucky.”
About the fortune cookies:
“There’s a little story inside.”

As a child I was frequently in trouble
for playing in water,
yucky and clean.
I immediately want to make “too many wishes.”
In fact I have begun long ago,
am always in the midst of them,
they are as familiar as prayer beads.

Two middle aged ladies are served
tea and cookies.
Their eyes light up!
The plump lady
leans conspiratorially into her friend’s shoulder.
“If you break it, all the calories fall out!”
They laugh out loud
having lived enough life
to let their laughter be heard.
Her friend smiles.
I like them.
They are two reasons to get older.

A couple pauses as they cross the stone bridge
deep in conversation,
then they stand in front of the shrine that rises
in orange and black above the plain garden of stones.
She is even more in earnest
contemplating the wooden tower to the gods.
Who doesn’t try to make sense of it all?
She says, “You remember the tomato?
She married the tomato’s older brother.
He was a brilliant physicist.
He really lost it and became a monk.”

A little family at the tea garden
sitting on the “front row” –
just above the pool –
throwing wish pennies in
the father says to the son,
“Do you want to be superman?”
The son says,
“Nah,
that’s not a job.”

Now the Russian boy sings happily
in a thick accent,
“Oh, we had bad luck!”
a far away country melody
as they fish his sister’s purse out of the goldfish pond.
His aunt climbed right over the counter
and perched on the base to the awning pole,
leaned over the waters
and pulled it out.
No one fussed in that family.
An accident.
Much less worse than some things
that happened
back in the old country.
The father patiently squeezes the water out of everything.

A woman is saying to a man
next to me:
“I gave you a hot bath
when we lived on Taylor Street.
Where the spirit lived.
After that party.
I came home and made you a hot bath.
I poured you a glass of beer
and the spirit made it shatter.
All those beautiful glasses that they don’t make anymore.”

A small wriggly boy
leans far over the counter
and says excitedly,
“You can corral fish, you know.”
A fish cowboy in the Japanese Tea Garden.
His mother moves his teacup away
just in time.
“Tell me about it,” she says.
I sigh.

A student with glasses
and an impossibly long orange scarf
says to her friend,
“I’ll go home and make some pudding
and have that soup and do my notes.
I’ll put some more chili in that soup!”
That simple.
They are very young.
They leave.
The stools emptied of them
fill with an old couple.
He waits for her to sit
before he does
as he has unnumbered times,
a habit of kindness.
They look out at the pond
and she says,
“It’s going to be our anniversary.
What are you going to give us for our anniversary?”
“I don’t know.
It’s going to be forty-eight years.”
They eat the cookies
and drink the tea
and say not one word more.

A woman to her child,
“My fortune says
‘If your desires are not extravagant
they will be granted.’”
Her little girl has pink socks
with sparkles
and stars
and frilly lace.
Her mother has sensible shoes.

Man to child, “You like adventures?
I like adventures too.”
For a moment
they are the same age.

My heart has filled up
like the pools
with all that these people
are seeing and saying
and wishing
and feeling.

Why do I ache so much?
I have frequently been known to make too many wishes,
throwing them ahead of me
into the extravagant mess of life,
the clear and the yucky waters.

I have been naked without love.
And I have been loved—am loved,
so that when my beloved
hears my yelped ouch
as I grate my tender fingertip
along with the carrots
he calls out from the steamy bathroom,
“Are you okay?”
and I know
that I have already
won the Lotto.

Before I go back home
I see another one of us:
That child is going to make a wish.
There is the wish-posture!
Everything in her being is expectant.
There is the holding of the breath,
the choosing—which side of the bridge
to throw the penny from,
which pool more lucky?
I know the upraised urge and launch
as the sudden metal bone of the wish
goes splashing into the pool,
the pause after – it’s done.
Seriousness,
then the smiling.
The moment after
the world is different:
it is wished in.
Will it come true?
We are all already nibbled on by the fishes.
She walks away looking back,
ripening a little.

We throw ourselves
ahead of ourselves
all the time,
our hearts sing a song
beyond us
not so much about
health, wealth, love
(the usual culprits)
but really about the more extravagant stuff—

the attempt to keep
being here
in the messiness,
the yucky
clear
magnificent
stumbling
miracle.

© Kathleen Dunbar

Photo by Kathleen Dunbar

Kathleen ON THE RADIO Monday May 25 Labor Day 3:30-ish on SF Community Radio

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Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.39.09 PMRADIO INTERVIEW: Kathleen will be interviewed on Blue Lew’s SFCR Radio show this Monday, May 25!
WHEN: Monday, May 25, Labor Day
TIME: Somewhere between 3:30 and 5:30!
SHOW: The Blue Lew Show
INTERNET RADIO: To listen to the interview and music from my current and my upcoming CDs here’s how ya do it:
1) Go to this link: http://savekusf.org/shows
2) On the right side under the banner entitled Listen to SFCR click on the link that says, Launch Live365 Player. You can see what it looks like in the picture at the top here.
3) A screen will appear and you’ll immediately be tuned in! You can see what it looks like on the picture below.

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We Wowed ‘Em at Bill Cook’s Barn!

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Thanks to everyone who helped make the gig at Bill Cook’s Barn an amazing show! Bill says, “Kathleen’s music and her band are top class. Wow! Her songs are diverse, sensitive, powerful and spellbinding.”

KathBillsBarn

 

Thanks to my smokin’ hot band: The Better Devils, an amazing trio of topnotch touring and studio musicians:
Gawain Mathews, most recently he’s been the touring guitarist for Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart.
Kevin Hayes, drummer for Robert Cray, including on Cray’s Emmy-award winning album Take Your Shoes Off.
Paul Olguin, bass player for the likes of Bob Weir, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Huey Lewis, and more.KathBillsBarn-10

  • Host Bill Cook served up his legendary hospitality—his preshow dinner and the truly amazing venue—a “barn” that Bill has converted into a large premier performance and dance space. His high end sound system and the barn’s acoustics are a band’s and an KathBillsBarn-13audience’s dream!
  • Thank you Megan for your very careful attention and the super-kind gift of your presence and experience, and for altering your flight to go on a redeye in order to videotape me!
  • Thank you Gabriella for your enthusiasm, it really touched my heart—keep your creativity coming!
  • Behind-the-scenes Key Man Joseph Feusi did his usual magic that we know about because everything ran smoothly! and thanks for the delightful Bill’s Barnyard photo of the Band!
  • Michael Garrigues was a wonderful surprise guest—thanks for your awesome performance photos!
  • And as always—to my wonderful fans—much, much love! What an amazing feeling to look out in the audience and see you all grooving to the experience!

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Awesome performance photos by Michael Garrigues, Foglifter Media
Bill’s barnyard photo by Joseph Feusi, Mentor Extraordinaire!
Listen to and purchase my original songs at katheendunbarmusic.com