With the release of their debut album, blues duo Brother Sun Sister Moon’s Dave Lambert and Donna Dahl are already making big waves on the blues scene. Here they answer our 8 questions:
So, it seems this has been a big year for the two of you! You’ve played a good amount of shows, you’re representing Minnesota as the “Duo” act at the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, and you just finished your first album as Brother Sun Sister Moon. Where are you coming from musically, and how does this experience differ from other projects or acts you’ve been involved with?
DL: While we set out embarking on a band which is now The Motivators, we learned the hardships of keeping people with the same musical outlooks together wasn’t so easy. So needless to say we defaulted to a duo. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we have just reinvented ourselves to create our duo persona governed by time and lack of personnel needed to put a larger group together. What seemed like a curse became our blessing. Working a duo has its advantages and limitations. Learning what they are is the biggest challenge, but carries the greatest reward. Our love life and music life are totally intertwined and seems to carry through onstage and in our personal times together as well. Unlike other musical endeavors, Donna and I are closer to having the same vision for our combined future. We love the duo. It allows us to experiment with techniques and breathe new life into our playing styles. We are enjoying the attention and respect we receive from our peers and other players.
What are your expectations for the Blues Challenge in Memphis? Have either of you ever competed or played in something of this size?
DL: I have done large shows before, but never in a competition that involves so much preparation prior to the event. My biggest expectation is to have as much fun as I can delivering the best show I can.
DD: Certainly I’ve never competed OR played amongst hundreds of “best” acts. I came into this, as with everything I have done, with Dave Lambert: to play from the heart our honest best. I don’t know that I’m expecting anything from the IBC other than their collective ears and eyes for a moment in time, which is quite a gift in itself. But I do expect I will be completely mesmerized and forever touched by being immersed at this gathering of musical heavy hitters from around the world (and listeners, because there are no fans like blues fans!). This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am deeply grateful for the journey thus far.
What are the songs on the album about, and is there an overarching theme to them?
DL: That theme would seem to be meeting life’s hardships and learning to deal with those through faith and the strength found in emotions and human relations. Hard times and brighter days ahead.
DD: Lyrically, one theme is manning on in rebuilding following great loss or injury. And the spectrum of emotions which come with that, not only obvious ones like anger and weariness, but an authentic “bring it on” spirit borne of bearing hardship, and even a joyful abandon, especially musically. It is a triumph right here and now to not give up before one can see light at the end of a tunnel. And it is honorable to persevere amongst a complex and mucky circumstance or situation.
What are five records that you listen to regularly and/or inspire your music?
DD: The five albums that inspired me most are likely Joan Armatrading – Joan Armatrading, The Jackson 5 – ABC, David Bowie – Heroes, Three Dog Night – Naturally, and Yes – The Yes Album.
DL: I don’t listen to anything regularly anymore as I am usually listening to the songs in my head, but my inspirations have come from many. Mostly American players… Just to name a few: Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix, A Space in Time by Ten Years After, old traditional blues players like Son House, RL Burnside, Guitar Gabriel, Muddy, The Wolf, The Three Kings, Elmore James, Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson etc., and Respect The Dead by Otis Taylor, Detroit music like old Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, MC5, Mitch Rider, The Rockets, Grand Funk and other stuff from the area where I grew up (Flint, MI).
If you could play with anyone anywhere, with whom and where would you play?
DL: Sister Moon at large venues and festivals everywhere.
DD: With Brother Sun in a gazebo atop a mountain in the Alps.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
DD: Caring for an evilly-willed manipulative invalid. I lasted one afternoon.
DL: Factory work building furniture for a well-known manufacturer. I quit.
What are some of your favorite things about recording an album at Organica?
DL: Laughing with Andy Crowley. I admired the way in which Andy was able to coax the best out of us with seemingly opaque suggestions. And then to see how the songs all came together at the end, demonstrating the talent he has for working with artists. Quite visionary.
DD: Andrew Crowley’s mellow yet energetic and fun personality and work method. The physical surroundings which are comfortable and vintage in a home-like way. And the results! The recordings came out like us. We are thrilled that Andrew captured our true essence.
If Brother Sun Sister Moon had a deli sandwich named after them, what would be on it and why?
DD: We’d need two of them. One would be very clean and straightforward: black bean burger with mung sprouts, mayo, avocado, mustard, greens, and sliced beets for the fresh new morning ‘ere the rising of the sun. The second would be a black olive tapenade with jalapeno raspberry jelly and thick raw onions atop world-class BBQ brisket or 1/4 lb. hamburger with spicy hot BBQ sauce for the get-all nightlife ‘ere the rise of the moon.
Brother Sun Sister Moon’s new album is available to purchase here:
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