South African based musician Dan Patlansky is coming to tour the UK in May, and this blues/rock guitarist is headlining an 8 date visit.
Having previously toured the UK in 2015 as a special guest to Joe Satriani on his ‘Shockwave Tour’, Dan soon got bitten by the UK live touring bug and subsequently returned in 2016 with British blues rockers King King for a run of dates as well as his own headline concerts at legendary venues such as The Borderline, London, and Mr. Kyps in Poole. Before long, he would return to the UK in 2017, joining the phenomenal Joanne Shaw Taylor and then the infamous solo artist and guitarist Walter Trout for their UK appearances.
While Dan’s contemporaries are performing in concert halls and arenas, he has instead opted to make his tour not only a much more intimate experience for fans old and new alike but to return to the towns and cities that have been instrumental in his stratospheric rise in the UK blues-rock scene.
“The Blues is all about intimacy and intimate venues. It’s where it was born, and where it’s meant to be performed. I love nothing more than performing in a place where I feel the crowd’s energy, and they can feel ours. It’s a give and take energy swap that only exists in intimate venues. The venues and towns we’ve chosen this time around are pivotal to my career, because it’s where it all began for me on the UK touring scene.”
It is also notable for this May 2023 UK Tour that Dan is proudly supporting Nordoff and Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy charity, with a unique approach shaped by more than 60 years of practice across all eight dates by fundraising and increasing awareness of their vital work.
It was with the charity that we decided to start our conversation, as we felt the charity does great work and are happy to promote it. Their website is here for you to check out their work.
Dan- We think it is great to have some charity involvement and help out in any way. This particular charity spoke out loudly to me because they do therapy for people through music, and I found that music has carried me through the hard times, even though I’ve thankfully not been in a really bad place. The stories I have heard from the charity are that they have done incredible things through music therapy. It seems like a great charity, and I want to expose it more through the tour.
In 2022, the album “Shelter of Bones” came out. It sounds really good, and it has this solid groove. It has a dance form to it, but Dan is really a rock ‘n’ blues artist of note. We wondered if Dan pulled inspiration from the older Delta bluesmen.
Dan- As a guitarist, I draw inspiration from a range of genres, but blues is my number one source of inspiration. If I had to sit on a desert island and listen to one style of music, it would be the blues. It has been consistent in my musical life, in both guitar playing and writing songs. Everything is rooted in the blues.
We thought at the magazine that we could detect some jazz in the songwriting for the album as well.
Dan- Oh yes, there is plenty. I draw a lot from the jazz world in certain elements, but I also draw from funk and pop—not modern-day pop as such, but the classic days of great songwriting, trying to fuse things together and still project what I wish. Over the years, as a younger writer, I would write on my own and take the song through to completion. But that is a difficult thing; you need a sounding board with songs, as you can feel they are great, but someone else can present a different angle. Right now, I am in the middle of writing a bunch of songs for an album that will be released next year. I have a team of three, and we meet up each Wednesday. It happens to be a fantastic team; we work well. In a team, you need brutal honesty. If you come up with a part and you play it for the others, you have to take that criticism. As of late, I prefer to write with a particular set of guys, and those guys are my band. They are the group I am taking to the UK. They are great songwriters and producers in their own right.
Dan Patlansky, Photo Credit: Adam Kennedy
We wanted to talk next about the guitar solo, as Dan is a great guitarist, and we wondered whether he preferred the spontaneous solo, or the choreographed solo.
Dan- Well, there is the written solo that you play note for note every night, and there is the other end of the scale with the improvised solo. I am more on the side of the improvised solo, so every single night the solo is different. But I believe that is the spirit of the blues, as how you feel on the night comes through in the way you play and deliver the solo. But, saying that, even when improvising, you have an idea where you are going. You don’t necessarily know it note for note, but there is the knowledge that at this point in the solo it will get louder or at this point it may get softer. But live, the notes won’t be preconceived; there may be parts the same every night, but it is often improvised in the main.
Of course, with big bands like Queen, Ozzy, and so on, there is a huge expectation of certain guitar solos, and the guitarist has to deliver what the audience expects. But, often, the guitarist will be new to the band and delivering someone else’s work.
Dan- I put it this way. Look at David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, if Pink Floyd reunited tomorrow and I was there watching them, and they played the whole of Dark Side of the Moon, and David Gilmour improvised all the solo work, then the audience would be bitterly disappointed. Those solos were written and they are masterpieces. There is room for every approach. You can do the David Gilmour thing where it is the most beautiful thing and it becomes an integral ingredient for appreciating the song. But on the blues front it is slightly different, as it is different with the solo, it works with the structure of the blues.
Dipping into the album, we loved the guitar sound of “Dark Soul.” It was a great track, and we wondered how Dan saw that one now, a year later.
Dan- It’s actually been more than a year. I wrote those songs for the album in 2019, pre-COVID. We then had to halt the entire process of making the album. It is weird,, really, as the album is only a year old, but it feels like it is ancient as I have been listening to it for four years. “Bad Soul” is about a couple of people who were not necessarily born evil, but they have this kind of badness, maybe in a slick way. But they cannot be changed; it is who they are, and the whole guitar sound has that swagger, and I wanted that to come over in the music as much as the story. I wanted the music to tell a similar story.
We felt it kicked some ass, and should be on the live set for the UK.
Dan- We are still looking at the set. It very well might be, as it was the first single released off the 2022 album, so it is one that will likely be in the set.
We also wanted to note “Devil’s Dopamine.” Now, one of the plus points of listening to an album on vinyl is that you are forced to listen to the album as the artist sets it out. This song, to us, is a really interesting song, but it would never be a single, it is, in old parlance, a solid album track that you enjoy as the album plays through. No disrespect to a fine song, however!
Dan- I agree with you, actually. When you write for an album, you don’t know when you write the song if it could be a single, an album track, or if it will fall by the wayside. But you get a couple that are isolated as singles, and the rest will find their place. I agree completely that when you listen to an entire album, it should take you on a journey, and the track selection should be considered very carefully. That one was difficult to slot in on the album; I remember doing the track listening, and somehow it ended up on the late part of the album, and it seemed to fit best there. I knew when I was writing it that it would not get much radio play or have a video made for it. It is not, perhaps, immediate. In today’s world with shorter attention spans, you need the singles near the start of the album.
There is also the UK tour to consider and talk about.
Dan- Yes, the album has been out for a full year. And I am stoked to be back again. I’m South African based, but I love to get to the UK once a year if I can, and get to Europe too. But it is always a treat to get to the UK. I’m bringing my regular band to the UK. Back here in South Africa, I have a regular band, bass player, and drummer that I play with, and generally, when I go to the UK, I hire UK-based musicians. If I’m in Scandinavia, I hire guys from Norway, which makes the travel more affordable than flying three people from South Africa. But on this particular tour, I’m bringing my South African band, as I am adding some new songs we have never performed before. They may make the next album, and we are testing them on the road. It would require too much rehearsal time when I land in London to use local guys.
But will fan favourites all be there?
Dan- Oh yes. I have certain songs from way back that we always add, as the fans expect us to play those songs. Some songs from “Shelter of Bones” will be in there, but back in the day, bands would take out new songs before taking them into the studio. I want to do some of that and feel them out on the road. I feel these are some of the best songs we have, and we have a lovely mix of the last album, some further back stuff, and some new material too. I am really excited to be playing it.
By Benny (the Ball) Benson
Mark C. Chambers
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