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(An order of Dixie chicken for Dana Gehrman)

MUCH MORE SO THAN the idiot interviewing her, Dana Gehrman looks capable, like someone who would be handy on the tools. It’s an image not hurt by the fact that behind her is an impressive set of record shelves that could well have been knocked up by the Brisbane guitarist/singer/songwriter. Can she be hired?

“This is just like an IKEA thing,” she says dismissively, doing herself out of a commission. “I think I would cut a finger off. I think it would be really bad idea for someone to put any kind of saw or hammer in my hand.”

I’m no doctor nor a musician, but I’m thinking cutting your finger off might play havoc with her guitar playing. Mind you, depending on which finger. She might for example be able to replace a finger with a bottleneck or metal slide, only enhancing her bluesy slide guitar.

“That’s why Lowell George started playing slide!,” she says. “He got it cut-off by, I think, a toy helicopter he was building. It sliced his finger off. So it would force me to practise slide more if that happened.”

Well fancy that. Funny she should mention Lowell George, songwriter singer and slide guitarist for Little Feat, whose songs Gehrman covers on her new album, Down In Hollywood. The record’s an in-the-pocket-groove, greasy when it needs to be/gutsy when it should be, collection of classic 1970s roots rock that highlights both her subtlety and power.

“I feel like they’ve been part of my whole life,” she says enthusiastically. “It’s that typical thing that I was lucky to grow up listening to awesome music and Little Feat always stuck with me. It’s the kind of music I can put it on and I’m never sick of it.”


“I’ve gone through phases where I’ll listen to one album over and over and then you think, I’ve gotta have a break for the next five years and never hear that again, but I’ve never had that with Little Feat,” she insists. “And Lowell George, such an amazing, quirky, talented individual. The fact that they are all amazing what they do – it’s a band put together, like a purpose-built band to be amazing – he had a real vision and I love that he had all these amazing ideas. I find that really inspiring, not just as a songwriter: he knew what he wanted to do and he made it happen.”

It gets quirkier still though. She points out that George started on flute, as she did – “I don’t tell too many people that” – a revelation which has me wondering if by a twist or two of fate, this new record could have been a Jethro Tull covers album.

“I loved them as well,” Gehrman says with no sign of embarrassment at this prog past. “My parents were like, you gotta hear this. I heard lots of good records.”

Prog is one of the few elements that probably can’t be thrown into the Little Feat brew, which incorporated rock and soul, country and blues, funk and folk. A sound too which always felt as if it, and therefore you, was on the move.

“I think that’s something I’ve realised over my career, and the more I have performed, that it’s something I love in music. Something that I’m always striving for: that feeling of being on the road driving, that constant movement that you talk about,” Gehrman says. “Their music is all about the groove and it’s all about that feeling, and that’s a feeling that I really try to capture in the music that I make as well.”

And let’s not forget that greasiness: that sweaty, lived-in, sticky-fingered, not exactly sexy but definitely physical tenor that seemed to slide against you. Or you were sliding against someone else.

“Definitely. And on that same kind of train, lyrically they are not your typical lyric. None of their songs are typical; it’s the opposite,” she adds. “But lyrically there’s so much imagery there and it’s that kind of greasy American imagery. It’s the imagery of being on the road, telling stories about being musicians on the road: it’s a dirty scene and that’s kind of what their songs are about. And that was appealing as well, getting that insight into what was going on at the time.”

All this mutual gushing over Lowell George and Little Feat is entertaining here, but is not exactly what one might call a commercially adept move in 2023. Especially in Australia. Put it this way, it’s not really going to hit the yoof market.

“I agree. It’s amazing how many people don’t know about Little Feat.”

Ya think??

“Over the last 15 years talking about Little Feat it’s rare that anyone the same age as me would go, ‘yeah I know them, they’re cool’. It would always be someone’s dad at a party who’d go ‘oh yeah, I’ve heard of them’,” she laughs.

While I splutter futilely on behalf of all the “someone’s dads” out there – though really, we are a not insubstantial market so y’all can take your mockery and swivel, ok? – Gehrman laughs some more and recalls that a marketing company pitching for work once said to her that she had “definitely a daggy mum vibe”.

The future of rock ‘n’ roll is the past baby!

“It’s probably the last thing anyone would recommend doing, that probably makes me love it even more,” she says. “I’m not one for following trends: I’m a self-confessed dag myself.”

Whoa, a flute-playing, bluesy rock of the ‘70s-loving, IKEA shelf-filling, musician from Brisbane is not cool? What kind of world is this?

“The best thing is I don’t care. I’m really happy doing what I want to do and going with the ideas I have and I feel thankful that I’m happy with that.”

Gehrman is helped in her off-peak dagginess by some equally uncaring and more than capable collaborators, beginning with Brisbane’s Danny Widdecombe, who seemingly can play any style at any time and brings the slide prowess – though he does have all his own fingers. Alongside him are members of the double-denim-doffing The Honeysliders and the more funk-oriented Golden Sound, with the core of the band being Chris Bosley on bass, Tony McCall on drums and Peter Golikov on keys.

“I love working with people I feel a really good connection with on a friend level as well so I wanted someone I knew I could connect with them would be easy to work with, as well as really hold that groove,” she says. “There’s no way we could replicate what Little Feat do but I did know that the groove had to be solid.”

Solid. Like her shelves. And her sense of self. Even as a flautist. Maybe that Tull album isn’t out of the question after all

Dana Gehrman’s Down In Hollywood is out now.


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