Top Ten Three Months Running!
My original song “In The Hole” from my most recent album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is in Ourstage’s Top Ten for the past three months! Check it out here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-hole-2
Top Ten Three Months Running!
My original song “In The Hole” from my most recent album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is in Ourstage’s Top Ten for the past three months! Check it out here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-hole-2
DATE: Saturday, April 6
TIME: Doors open 6:45pm and Show at 7pm
WHERE: Heart Tribe 7 Bolinas Road Fairfax, CA 94930
COST: $20 Advance, $25 at the Door
TICKETS: Purchase Tickets Here
Please come join Kathleen Dunbar for this intimate limited seating engagement. Advance tickets recommended to reserve your seat! Purchase Tickets Here
• This will be a celebration of specially selected songs from her musical catalog.
• You’ll hear songs from her first three albums, including her most recently released album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames. Plus a sneak peek into songs from her upcoming fourth album of love songs, Smoochy Smoo.
• Let her beguile and bewitch you, inspire you, break your heart, and make you laugh! Her songs are vignettes into our very-human temptations and redemptions, with a good dose of humor whilst the angels and devils bet which way we go at the crossroads.
• You can listen to Kathleen here: kathleendunbar.com
“Kathleen Dunbar and her literally amazing band of talented Better Devils, achieves a rare and utterly unique blend of musical and lyrical symmetry. Highly recommended!”—Russell David“Kathleen Dunbar has just renewed my appreciation for story-telling songs. The genres mix beautifully to form a potent eye of the storm into which you’ll gladly be swept.”—Music Emissions
This will be an intimate evening with Kathleen–Advanced Tickets recommended. Purchase Tickets Here
Kathleen Dunbar San Francisco Singer-Songwriter Kathleen Dunbar performs her blend of rootsy, humorous, and spellbinding storytelling about tragedy and redemption through her original song compositions in the Americana tradition. Join her on a musical journey into the darkness of the heart, love, betrayal, steamy romance, and the transformation of the spirit after passing through the flames. 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.
For this intimate evening Kathleen will be joined by her guitarist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Gawain Mathews and stand up bass player Ben Levine.
Gawain Mathews gigs with Kathleen Dunbar as her guitarist and banjo player. His magic thread runs all through the music you hear. Gawain is Kathleen’s arranger and producer. On her CDs he plays guitar, mandola, banjo, keyboards, pedal steel, 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. He’s toured as guitarist for Mickey Hart. Gawain 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 Area working with a diverse roster of clients and styles.
Ben Levine is a bassist whose performing career has taken him to all 50 States, Europe, China, Canada, and Central America. He has performed as a sideman with some of the top recording stars in country music including multi-platinum artists Neal McCoy and Mark Wills, as well as former American Idol Josh Gracin. Ben is also a founding member of the groundbreaking bluegrass tribute band “Honeywagon” whose 2003 album “Green Day Blue Grass” spent over a year in the top 10 of Billboard’s Bluegrass Album Chart reaching as high as the #3 position. Ben was also a featured performer on the Grammy winning classical album “Guitar Heroes” by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. An active musician in the Bay Area, Ben teaches at Diablo Valley College and performs with several popular local groups including, The Boombox, Bell and Co., Haulin’ Oats, and The Urban Outlaws. Visit Ben’s bluegrass site at: http://honeywagonmusic.com
This will be an intimate evening with Kathleen. Advance Tickets recommended.
FREE DOWNLOAD of “Circus”
For a limited time get a FREE DOWNLOAD of my song Circus from my just released album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames. Here’s the link:
THE BACK STORY BEHIND MY SONG “Circus”
Where do my songs come from? I feel they might be playing in some other universe and I receive a transmission right into my radio heart-brain. Somehow I “hear” them and out they flow from my voice and pen! The original impetus for the song “Circus” on my brand new album Liars, Cutthroats and Dames is a dream I had one night! In the dream I was laying in a large bed on a mezzanine with the various wild acts of a circus happening on every level of the oddly shaped building. Suddenly a knife thrower appeared and threw his knifes with lightning speed all around my body, outlining me! He was almost completely accurate. One of the knives gave a papercut graze to my cheek. In the dream I wondered, “Hm, I wonder if it’s a good idea or not to date him?” Ha! I woke up and thought, “My god! This is a song!” and proceeded to tell the story of the knifethrower. You will hear in the instrumental section a theramin, an instrument I love, which renders so well the tight-rope drama of the circus. My producer-multi-instrumentalist Gawain Mathews perfectly arranged the song with an organ carrying forward the larger than life pulse of the circus, and plays the idiosyncratic voices of an accordion, mandola, banjo and guitar. We got a big virtual “Piatti” symbol crash. And BIG thanks to Nicholas Daniel Wlodarszyk for his completely awesome comic trombone. Here’s the opening lyrics:
a freak as a boy on the far side of hell
he lived by his wits in a crumbling motel
with the eyes of a gunner, a rock steady aim
all that he lacked was a good looking dame
charm won the girl and the damage was done
his prospects weren’t much but it sounded like fun
when the call comes for you and you step in the ring
inside the big tent you get to be king!
. . . for the rest of the lyrics click here: https://kathleendunbar.bandcamp.com/track/circus
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. 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.
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!
Photography by Joseph Feusi
All songs copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar
When the earth formed
molten iron sank to its center
to make the core
and drew with it
most of the precious metals.
Gold abides with iron.
There are some veins
and pockets of metals,
also lens-shaped thickenings
and domes in the dark
that lay closer to the surface, however.
The animals don’t care about them
in the same way that people do—
the animals walk above them, swim,
fly, even dig a little at the roots—
they are the trebles
to the bass clef below—
of the song of the earth.
for quite other reasons.
1.8 billion years ago
is the kind of time I can’t really comprehend
except as a puny fact.
My heart, on the other hand,
once upon a time
to begin the story—
in waters fresh and salt
a special mud was laid down . . .
. . . in that time the water
was over-bitter with much iron
and little oxygen
In it the first simple creatures swam.
For their feast and mead
they took the warmth of the sun
and made bargain with the world
to spit out from their simple meal
a gift of oxygen into the waters.
The sun was hot
and their feast great
and so they paid well for it.
Clinging, swooning youths they were
sinking in embrace,
the elemental lovers:
the molecules of the oxygen and the iron joined
and lay down together in the mud beneath waves
which prayed over them
and laid long smooth sheets over the honeymoon bed.
The sheets frothed and laced
and the song was the old one of the pairing of things,
the kind where the two lovers
now joined in their attraction
make some thing at last
under the weight of time and pressure
that is the gift of the pairing,
that is of them
and beyond them.
It was well done
and so, in this case,
and thickly scrambled in their thinking
go digging up the earth
and shaping it
to kill other people—
they dig up an old and venerable tale
an alchemical marriage
and use it to stop hearts.
is mined from simple earths
grown in the dark
then shaped for death
so that the interfering explosion of the refined parts
made bloody rags of the young man
my father taught to read.
He was so young he could only grow a bit of beard
and no mustache.
Once upon a time . . .
he spoke to my father with wonder
of the idea of indoor plumbing,
of his trip across the sea,
and especially of his sweetheart with hair so red
that he lay awake at night
electric with the knowledge
that she had chosen him
and him alone.
My father helped him to write love letters,
to put some poetry to his words
upon paper that would last longer than the boy,
for in a moment
that was with you
all of your days
you saw what in earth would be a field ploughed
to accept seed
was instead flesh
interrupted from its firm rhythms,
its flow and pulse,
churned and planted instead
with the metal that made death.
The boy’s mouth spoke blood.
He looked at you
and you saw his life fall away
from his love’s hair of flaming maples
of ropes of honey fire
on the burning end of a log.
As the light in his eyes dimmed
he sank into your own eyes
as into the water’s deeps
heavy with the weight of unbearable mystery
into your molten core,
and the log burned there
his sweetheart’s flaming hair
that he longed to bury his face in once again
and never would.
You kept hearing his words
and you could not stop him speaking
all of your days.
you stepped silent as the grave
behind an enemy guard,
pulled your knife
across his soft throat.
The blood was wet and sticky.
You looked out
over the acres of moonlit trees
whose beauty filled your eyes
even as the enemy soldier
slumped against you
with his full weight
as a lover does.
You cleaned your knife later.
You were all somebody’s children once.
Back in camp
you corrected the map
showing the dangerous places,
in the pattern of the land,
who filled the buildings
where lay the encampments,
sleeping and on watch
the sergeants and boys,
you hugged your rifle,
always one hand touching
or else the strap pressing against your chest,
holding the gun’s reassuring weight.
What is this world
where such sensations are small comfort against
the absolute nakedness of flesh
where bullets can pull their fingers through?
You smoked Pall Malls from home
shook a second cigarette from the pack
and forced a smile
for another boy who needed both.
One of the last smiles he would be given
was a gift from you.
A shell found him the next day.
There was not much left,
and for a long time when you smiled
at some brightness or humor
you felt your mouth
and saw him calm with what you had given
and the futility and the human despair of it.
The dead boy was there again
and your mouth was full of ash.
Long before I was born
and long after
in the middle of the night you saw the boys
you soldiered with and cared for,
most I didn’t know about.
You continued to see them
until the end of your days
even unto the morning of your own death,
those boys who lived behind your eyes
in your old heart
repaired and failing,
Your face before and after the war
was different entire,
brave in both photos—
the first like the surface of water, still,
expectant of the coming storm,
but untroubled, smooth.
In the one after
you stood on a Belgian street—
beneath your helmet
was a pool bottomless,
alive in spite of itself,
this time the stillness carrying dark water
full of the dead.
Oh, the pain that families carry—
that I carry
in telling this story
about my father
and every other father
the dead ones
whose children were unborn
the live ones
know only the part of their fathers
that the shells did not rupture
the cathedrals of their hearts
with fallen walls
and blackened timbers
the faces of the angels dark with soot
this one’s wing missing
Jesus with his hand raised
but the stone of his body
made dust from his belly down
the blue and ruby windows
Afterwards when people speak
it is often that they name it The War
no matter which insanity
the civilized world
has collapsed into.
Whenever we went camping
the car carried
my complicated family
composed of treasures and trash
ore and tailings
wonders and junk.
The car carried us
on long summer vacations
filled with adventure
and screaming fights.
We’d leave at dawn
because my father was a morning person
who barked orders and could not understand
how he could “boss 300 men at the factory
and not you two women.”
We two women
did not follow orders.
My mother rolled her eyes and said,
(His Swiss mother named him
after the president
who waged the war to end all wars).
And when we did get out of the house
in the burnt umber station wagon
the sun not too far up
somehow, something was always left behind.
My parents always remembered what they’d forgot
about five miles down the road
at the first stoplight—
I had the spot marked—
“Oh! the coffee pot
(Always the really vital equipment).
Sometimes mom, sometimes dad
made the confession,
there would be an almost erupting fight
halted by a bond
I didn’t understand until years later.
Dad would say
“It’s bad luck to go back,
we’ll go to the hardware store and get one,”
and mom would say
“Yeah, sweetheart, let’s do that,
Because one day
a long time ago
somebody my father loved
and that is where the shell found him.
All those boys gone
my father carrying them
my father gone now
and I carrying them all
even the ones he never spoke of.
I know people
children’s children’s children
with the stone and wood
of their grandfather’s churches
temples and mosques
groves and standing stones
erupted and silent
in rubble on their heart’s floor
all those boys
Let us learn to dig up love.
Pierce our hearts
with that prime old element
made from iron,
© Kathleen Dunbar
Using the Words Shaman and Shamanism
By Kathleen Dunbar
What do we name ourselves as practitioners of archetypal and energetic healing? I use the words shaman and shamanism to refer to myself and my healing practice. These are ancient words for an even older practice that spans virtually all the epochs of human existence. I want to be sensitive to the culture that offers these specific words. I want to be true to the universality of healing practices and use a word that is woven into the web of life. I’ve given a lot of thought to my personal decision, and thought I would share my perspective.
The specific forms of healing I have chosen to learn draw from healing practices that are archetypal rather than tribe-specific. I believe that healing and medicine arise both from human experience, and from culturally specific practices (which are also human, of course, but integrally woven into a specific peoples’ lives and stories). Culturally specific practices need to be honored and used only where gifted by a healer from that culture.
After a great deal of thought I have chosen to continue to use the word shaman as a descriptor. I have had transpersonal experiences since I was a young child that have lead me specifically to be called to this path and fulfill this calling, and which I honor by engaging in them. On a gut level this word has always resonated with me. Indeed, it is this word that called me to dive in and set upon this path a long time ago in a bookstore where I found Joan Halifax’s book Shamanic Voices calling out to me from the shelf.
The word shaman comes from the Tungus-speaking peoples of Siberia. This word began to come into common parlance in the western world in the 1960s when Mircea Iliade and other anthropologists described their observations of the Tungus people’s spiritual and healing practices. There began to be an interest in the western world for healing methods that were based upon ancient—and inherently human—practices that intertwine the human psyche, archetypes, stewardship of the planet, and “non-ordinary” states of consciousness. Personally, it feels to me that a magical door opened in Siberia to a world wracked by two wars that had engulfed the planet and that was hungering for raised consciousness.
I feel that a shaman or medicine person is one who continues to practice ways to be able to recognize and move the ego aside in order to access transpersonal states for the
benefit of healing. In these states the shaman offers him or herself up to Spirit to be guided in healing practices for a particular client and for community. I believe that the healing a client wants and is ready for is available to them, often on a not-so-conscious level, but one that their spirit is prepared for. I am the midwife that helps that birth-into-new-being take place, but ultimately they are the one doing the work, and having to continue to do the work once they go home.
I don’t know why this oddball gift was given to me! But it was, and I honor Spirit and my own higher being by using it to the best of my ability. Recently someone asked why I use the word shaman and practice shamanism if I am not an indigenous person. I want to honor the cultural practices of peoples by not claiming them and using them. I also want to honor what has been given to my spirit and heart and hands to do.
Medicine woman, midwife of the spirit, healer—these could be names I use (and sometimes I do call myself a Medicine Auntie) but I prefer the word shaman. I have my particular offerings in that regard, which are specific. It would be weird to me for a doctor not to want to call him or herself a doctor. I feel it appropriate to name myself as something and own that, while understanding my specialties and limitations (ie., when to refer to others with different specialities).
I thank the Tungus people for this word shaman, and no, I have not personally asked them if I could use this word that is probably pretty sacred to them. I want to continually understand my blinders regarding privilege. And, in a way that I can’t really put into words, that is the word that Spirit wants me to use.
I shared my thoughts with one of my dear shaman mentors, Jon Rasmussen, or Shaman Jon. The comment he added to my thoughts was really helpful for me, and clearly put into words what I have been feeling. I will include it here. Jon says,
“There is a word or set of words in every language to describe shaman, just as there is a word in every language for Soul, spirit, God, etc. And at the same time, since humanity is now such a global village, it makes sense to use a single word, and I feel there is no better choice at this point than shaman. Even my Q’ero teachers (who in Quechua would call themselves paqo for men, and laika for women) refer to themselves now with the word ‘shaman’ because of its accepted universality. I still have a note with Don Francisco’s phone number which he gave me where he wrote, ‘Francisco, Chaman Qeror.’ The people of Tungus can be proud that we consider the word in their language to represent that role across the globe.”
So it is in the spirit of universality, and with respect to the Tungus people, and to our huge global village, that I dedicate my practice as a shaman.
If you’d like to learn more about my healing practice, you can click this link: kathleendunbar.net
Also, I have made an album of original trance-ambient-world music to journey to, called Medicine Songs, by my alter ego Blue Lilah. I’m so delighted that it’s been nominated for Best World Music album in the soon-to-be-announced Just Plain Folks Music Awards. You can check out the music at this link bluelilah.com
Photos by Kathleen Dunbar
Portrait Photography by Tamarind Free Jones
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.”
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
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 HERE—it is available for you all RIGHT NOW!
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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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!
Photos by Joseph Feusi