Genius guitarist, acclaimed singer/songwriter and globally respected purveyor of the blues — that’s Dan Patlansky. He has opened for the legendary Bruce Springsteen, toured Europe with rapper/blues artist Everlast and now he’s off to tour his native environment with his new release Dear Silence Thieves (see below for tour dates!). Before starting his ‘Southern African pilgrimage’ on 9 May, he answered a few of our questions on blues vs. hip hop, relating to a live crowd as well as old and modern blues clichés.



You performed with Everlast, who is known for hip hop songs like ‘Jump Around’ but shocked music purists when he played the blues. Could you see yourself doing rap music one day?

Everlast has a strong soul and blues background, and a voice that’s made for it. One of the best live shows I’ve ever seen! To be honest I don’t see myself doing rap ever because I have zero passion for it, and I believe it’s all about passion. I respect it but it’s not for me.

Hip hop and blues, how contradictory in your opinion are these genres really?

I think they come from the same source originally. I think most music comes from the blues. I’m not a fan of hip hop at all though. Two genres on completely different paths from the original source. But both came from a place where people needed a platform to voice their views.



You said, ‘The blues are something you need to experience live. You lose the essence of it in the studio.’ What does a song need to make for a good live performance?

Live helps because of the live crowd feeding energy into the songs. That’s why the studio is very different, and needs to be approached differently. But live performance for me is all about relating to the crowd through passion and soul. I think it differs for everyone, but that’s definitely my approach. The more you give live the more you get back.

Tell me about your newest project Dear Silence Thieves. How does it compare to your previous releases?

I think this album is far more balanced than previous ones in the sense that I focused heavily on the writing before I even thought about guitar solos and such. I think it’s the strongest material yet. But — saying that — there’s still plenty of guitar playing all over this record, after all it’s my passion. It’s just a modern blues/rock album.



I heard you say there’s a modern approach to blues singing that’s not about women and whiskey. Are there popular modern themes that are just as common today as whiskey and women back then? Are those themes on your record?

Not really, I’ve got a few classic blues tunes on the record because I believe you have to. But a lot of the content written about is closely based on personal experiences and happenings. The modern approach lyrically is closer to rock lyrics, and more story telling in a small way. But you can’t knock the old way either, gotta love it!

And, musically, how does a modern blues record differ from a more classic one?

Well, traditional blues is very much a 12 bar based format — which I’ve done for years, and still do to a certain point. Even on this album there are some real classic formats because that’s were I come from. But the modern approach is simply taking the old way and tweaking it a bit. Kinda like what Led Zepplin did for their whole careers. So maybe not so modern. Basically always keeping a strong blues base, and either adding or taking away some aspects to make it slightly different.



What would you say inspires the nicest songs? Is it something clichéd like love or do you get inspired to write music by something more abstract?

For me it’s the drive to become a better musician all the time. And to write something that’s strong in every sense. Sometimes listening to other great musicians either writing or playing is the most inspiring thing for me. And you never know if the song is a winner until it’s been recorded. So there’s a lot of doubt before I write a song.

You’re going on tour soon. What are you looking forward to most?

Playing the new tunes! I cannot wait to play the fresh set list every night. And I cannot wait for everyone to hear the new stuff live. It’s always epic to have some freshness in your life.

Is there a town in South Africa that lives up to the spirit of the blues the most?

Not really, every time we tour one town stands out as great, but on the next tour it’s a different town. SA is growing in leaps and bounds at the moment musically, and it’s very exciting to be involved in it as a recording and touring artist. The crowd makes a show good or bad.

What other exciting things do you have planned for the future?

Well, we tour the new album in SA in May and smaller towns and venues in the months to come. Me and my good friend Albert Frost are doing some collab shows at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and Oppikoppi, and at the end of the year we head back to Europe for a tour which includes headlining the Horsens Blues festival in Denmark. And right at the end of the year, there’ll be my annual guitar weekends. So I’m looking forward to hitting the road again!


9 May Rivonia Barnyard – Johannesburg
10 May Atterbury Theatre – Pretoria
15 May George Arts Theatre – George
16 May Cash Store – Port Elizabeth
17 May Cash Store – Port Elizabeth
18 May Potter’s Place – Jeffreys’ Theatre
19 May Fugard Theatre – Cape Town
24 May Strab – Mozambique
26 May Gateway Barnyard – Durban
31 May Bush Fire Festival – Swaziland

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Interview: Christine Hogg