While on a trip to the Azores in the mid-Atlantic in 2011, Dana Louise taught herself to play guitar.
At the time Dana was establishing herself as a visual artist. As the daughter of Ezra Idlet, a member of the celebrated folk duo Trout Fishing in America, though, her march from visual arts to music might seem inevitable in retrospect.
Whether by design or not, Dana started writing and performing original songs that draw from a wide range of influences – from folk to jazz to bluegrass. In doing so she’s created a genre-bending sound that delivers knowing tales with a playful flair.
Now based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and with several recordings to her name, Dana is touring this spring with The Glorious Birds. The band includes some familiar faces – that’s right, Ezra and Keith Grimwood of Trout Fishing in America. Multi-instrumentalist Adams Collins rounds out the band.
We recently caught up with Dana via email while she and The Glorious Birds geared up for their next tour. You can see them in Quinlan Cafe at Swallow Hill Music on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. Complete show details and tickets can be found here.
We’re in a musical moment that can be seen as very genre-bending or even genre free. You seem well-positioned to take advantage of this. How do you pull your seemingly disparate music influences together to create your sound?
I feel like I owe a lot of this to my band mates. Adams comes from a jazz and bluegrass background, Keith has classical training, and my dad, Ezra, has always been a sponge for all kinds of music. I think I just get very inspired by lots of different types of music and when I write songs you can hear some influence. I don’t know really, I just try to stay authentic to myself and my band totally pulls it together in a cohesive way.
Before you turned your energies to music, you were a visual artist. How did that translate in influencing your musical career?
I think I write with a painter’s eye, hopefully that doesn’t sound pretentious. I have a lot of visual imagery in my lyrics that kind of reflect how I paint.
Fans at Swallow Hill were excited to hear about your connection to Trout Fishing in America – you are Ezra Idlet’s daughter, and Ezra and his Trout Fishing band mate Keith Grimwood are in your band. What is it like to front a band while having your dad and such accomplished musicians backing you up?
It feels solid on stage. I feel honored that they actually enjoy playing my music. They have a lot of years on me and I know how lucky I am to be playing with the caliber of musicians that are on stage. I’ve learned a lot about being a touring musician with the guys and probably avoided a lot of rookie mistakes because of it. Right now I’m just soaking up this time on the road with these three amazing humans.
How does Adams Collins – who plays vibraphone and 5-string banjo – fit into this mix?
My Dad was recording another band out at his studio called Handmade Moments and they used Adams on a few of their tracks. My dad was very excited about Adams’s playing and was kind of on me about meeting him. I made it out to the studio one day and as soon as we started running through songs I realized that he was a great match for me. He’s such a talented musician! He is also one of the funniest people I know. I love seeing all the different ways this band relates to each other, maybe a longer answer than you intended, but there are many interesting dynamics between the four of us.
Are you working on new material? Is there a new album in the works?
I just need to get into a studio to record all the new material. I plan to do that in the next couple months while our schedule is light. I’m very excited to get these songs down because they feel different and more in line with the direction I want to take.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
We just got back from a few weeks touring overseas for the first time. This will be our first show in Denver.