With so many strings to her bow, it's a wonder how Dana Gillespie has the time to release her 37th album. She travels the globe on an almost full-time basis, is involved in numerous projects, while satisfying a constant stream of touring dates. This month her new album, Experienced, hits the racks and on 10 May she returns to London for a showcase at the long-established Dover Street Wine Bar. If you're not familiar with Dana already, she's been on the scene for almost 38 years, forging a career in TV, film and music. Experienced she certainly is, and the blues is her tipple. Her new album is a collection of 12 mostly self-penned ballads, belters and torch songs. And her pal Rolf Harris (yes, the Aussie cartoonist with an affection for four legged creatures) guests on two tracks playing the wobbleboard and eefing.
Dana believes this album is her finest blues outing to date: "I believe the blues should be sung by an older person because it's about emotions and experience. I couldn't do justice to it when I was younger because my voice didn't have the edge it needed to convey the emotion, nor did I have the first hand experience to sing about blue themes convincingly."
Having worked alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and David Bowie, among many others, her music has evolved from folk in the 60s through 70s Bowie-esque glam rock to the raunchy in-your-face blues she performs today. The blues, however, is her first love and is the music she has returned to throughout her career: "I love blues because it represents how emotions get translated into music...it doesn't really matter what you look like, what colour you are...it's something to do with having the ability to say a lot with very few words".
Her style follows in the steps of Bessie Smith, with a hint of Etta James and Koko Taylor. Critics as have described her voice: "sly and coquettish one minute and full of swaggering bravado the next". Her current band, the London Blues Band is a tight outfit, delivering "an upbeat musical backdrop".
The band comprises the finest young European blues session men, including the boogie woogie piano player Dino Baptiste, Javier Garcia on bass, Matt Schofield on guitar, Evan Jenkins on drums, and Big Mart Winning and Mike Paice making up the brass section.