|JV's Restaurant April 16th. We had a chance to interview
the reigning D.C. Rock-a-Billy Queen, Adrea Dagmar
Swenson-Brown. As usual, the band was fantastic and
Dagmar's vocals made us feel like we were transported
back to 1956.
<< Melissa: Where were you born,where did you grow up, where did you
go to Jr.High,high school, college? >>
Andrea: I was born in Washington, DC. I was raised in Silver Spring and Chevy
Chase,Maryland. My parents were both from New York City so we traveled back
and forth to Brooklyn and the Bronx. I went to Rock Creek Elementary in
Silver Spring and then Somerset Elementary, Leland Jr. High, and
Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland. After
high school, received my B.A. in English from Towson University, Teacher
Certification at American University in NW DC. Then photography classes at the
Univ. of Vermont with Fred Picker, a student of Ansel Adams; after that, graduate
classes at Antioch University. Most recent courses I've taken were for
producer/director certification at Montgomery Community Television through
whose auspices we produced a number of award-winning, tongue-in-cheek rock
videos that have been broadcast around the world from Channel 20 in Bethesda
to Antarctica: "Zombie Love", "Calling All UFO's", "Laboratory Lover," and "Ain't
Gonna Take It," plus various public service announcements and interstitial
pieces that incorporated windup toys.
<< M. When did you first start to sing ? >>
A. Well, it's hard to pinpoint exactly when. I was a singing little girl --I think it
came naturally. You could formalize it and say junior high school chorus
classes, or perhaps high school Spanish classes --I taught myself to play guitar
then and became the designated singer/guitarist who lead the Spanish classes
with "A La Nanita Nana," "Al Olivo," "Cielito Lindo" and other Spanish folk songs.
Around that same time, I started putting my poetry to music.
But I guess the real rock'n'roll roots started with Elvis and Marty Robbins
and the AM radio stations. The radio played the hits over and over till you were
brainwashed and I'd learn all these songs backwards and forwards.
And in real life on the streets of DC, there were many black a Capella groups
remember hearing these great "corner singers" with their amazingly creamy
harmonies wafting over the hot humid nights of Washington August when sweat
drips off your forehead just from the swampy air and the chess players are
leaning over the cement tables at DuPont Circle and the conga drummers and
saxophone players are raging into the night. So there was a lot of input all
around me, all kinds, all the time, from classical to r&b to country to
rockabilly. I used to have an Elvis Presley record player, with his autograph
in gold, and which I carelessly gave away, one of the few regrets I have in
life...a little like some people who put their 1959 Mickey Mantle baseball cards
in their bicycle spokes.
Even though I was from a classically trained family, I loved The Beat. WTOP-AM
radio wasn't just a news station --once, they were part of the rock'n'roll/pop/jazz
stations in the area that included WINX and WEAM, though WTOP was on the
jazz side. It's especially ironic because WTOP news has a slogan today, "we
don't play SONGS..."
There was this one tune on their play lists which was a fave of mine and ever
since hearing it I have wanted to learn it but cannot find it, by either Brenda or
more probably, Peggy Lee --one of the Lee's. Circa 1965 or 1967, it was titled
"Somebody's in My Garden" something
like that. Perhaps someone out there reading this interview can direct me to it...
a really cool, slinky song!
<< M. Who were your early influences? >>
A. Elvis knocked me out. After that, Marty Robbins, Gene Vincent, Buddy
Holly, Hank Williams, Harry Belafonte, Link Ray, Roy Orbison, Sarah Vaughn,
Brenda Lee, Leslie Gore, Miriam Makeba, Howlin' Wolf, Donovan, Mothers of
Jimi Hendrix, Andres Segovia, John Fahey, Roy Buchanan, Charlie Byrd, the list
goes on. I have eclectic tastes, but as a singer, I never really got over Elvis!!
<< M.Chronologically what bands have you been in? >>
A. 1. The Kokomo Mojos
2. The Seductones
3. Juliet at the Rodeo
4. Dagmar and The Seductones
<< M. What was the first club you played in? >>
A. Melissa, you ask the hard questions!
I may have debuted at the Iguana Coffee House, located in the basement of the
big red brick church on 14th Street, Thomas Circle, NW. After a Turkish
coffee and datenut bread with cream cheese, we played some songs, me on
acoustic guitar, my brother accompanying me on the bongo drums --it was a real
primitive sound and even though I was doing acoustic music I still wanted that
beat! Around the same time, I was performing my material at The Potter's House
in Adams Morgan, which I think still exists and still has live acoustic music today.
<< M. I have been listening to your CD. I really like "Poor Mans Roses."
It's a great song. >>
A. Thank you, glad you're enjoying our CD. A "Poor Man's Roses" sure is a
wonderful song and fun to sing, too. It was the B side of "Walkin' After Midnight,"
the Patsy Cline hit. Our version gets a lot of downloads on the Washington
Post's Mp3 site, and it's one of three tunes off Little Bitta Love that we have out
there in Mp3 format for people to hear.
Our debut CD, Little Bitta Love, has a variety of material--I think it's a good
representation of what we do. Little Bitta Love has the first cut of Billy Lee
Riley's hit RED HOT ever recorded by a female performer. Plus you'll hear my
version of STUPID CUPID, the first since the Connie Francis hit. And we've got
some great original songs written by Bob Newscaster: "Evil,"
"Livin' a Lie," "Don't Stop," and "Lucky Stars" a sweet pop tune. I wrote the title
"A Little Bitta Love." Dave Elliott plays drums, Bryan Smith plays upright and
electric bass, Arthur Barry guests on keyboards and Bob Newscaster plays all
the guitar parts. I am continually awestruck by the high caliber of musicianship
on this CD. Though not on Little Bitta Love, Dave Kitchen has been a frequent
part of The Seductones' live performances, playing rhythm and lead guitar and
adding vocals. We're now collecting material for our second CD.
In 2004, the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) nominated Little Bitta
Love for Best Roots Rock Recording. The Seductones were also nominated
for Best Roots Rock Band and several of the guys for Best Roots Rock
Instrumentalists. We're so pleased with all the airplay, reviews, and all-around
nice attention Little Bitta Love has received, from the USA to Canada to Europe
Little Bitta Love is available at all performances. It's also available
www.CDBaby.com/dagmar and at amazon.com
I like to think we maintain an interesting site at our home page,
www.theseductones.com. If you click on PIX, you'll see the cover photo and
feature article that the Baltimore Blues Society just wrote about us April 2005. If
you click on MP3s, you can download tunes off our CD. If you go to INK, you can
see our reviews. We have video samples, too, so you can watch a little
<<M. The clubs you usually play. >>
A. We can often be found at our favorite honky-tonk, JV's, in Falls Church, VA.
Dagmar and The Seductones debuted at JV's on December 27, 2001. We'll
be playing swing dances for the next several months (see: www.gottaswing.com)
all around Northern Virginia, including the Clarendon Ballroom, the Dulles-Hilton,
and the Reston Y. Other venues include the Half Moon BBQ in Silver Spring,
MD; Arts Al Fresco in Rosslyn, VA; and the City of Manassas Park Summer
To Be continued.....
|Andrea Dagmar Brown
Dagmar and the Seductones