Thursday, August 6, 2009

Duo channel their muse in 'Hazel'

Dayna Kurtz (left) and Mamie Minch share a “Love of Hazel”

By Meredith Deliso

Many musical collaborations are inspired by a mutual love for a band or musician.

For Dayna Kurtz and Mamie Minch, theirs is Hazel Dickens.

The two Brooklyn songwriters clicked a few years back, and realized they both connected with the music of the 60s bluegrass singer and feminist.

“We found that Hazel Dickens resonates with both of us, especially the duets between she and Alice Gerrard,” says the Park Slope-based singer and guitarist Minch, who has found fans of her own with her antique blues songs and confessional demeanor.

“The songs people identify with Hazel are the more stark recordings about coal mining and unions, but her songs about heartbreak are just devastating and so lovely,” she continues. “We wanted to sing them together, so we took a few into the studio along with some other tunes we loved, and it felt sort of magical.”

The end result of that sesion is the EP “For The Love of Hazel, Songs of Hazel Dickens,” a tribute featuring six songs written by or inspired by Dickens’s songwriting, voice, and groundbreaking collaborations with Gerrard.

“Although Hazel didn’t perform all these songs we recorded, she was very much in our mind and her sensibility and spirit very much informed these sessions,” says the Greenwood Heights-based Kurtz, an accessible performer with an unforgettable husky voice who has been invited to open for Rufus Wainwright, Antony & the Johnsons, and Keren Ann. “We thought it was appropriate to dedicate the record to her.”

Whether you’re a lover of the musician yourself, or a virgin to the music of Hazel Dickens, watch the duo ignite on stage when they celebrate with a release party at Union Hall (702 Union Street) on August 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, call 718-638-4400.


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