One of the things that I seem to encounter constantly is that I don't really quite fit anywhere. But I like that, because I can define myself without the weight of other people's expectations. I'm not of the jazz, blues, folk, R&B, rock or pop worlds enough to belong to any one of them, but all of those things are in there. -- Dayna Kurtz
Every step I've taken has felt really organic, and like they've been made at the right time. The records I've made feel like honest expressions of where I'm at musically, and the making of them has been joyful and interesting. -- Dayna Kurtz
Sometimes it is possible to wonder into a shop and discover something new.
So it was with Dayna Kurtz when I wondered into Ben's record shop in Guildford.
I was flipping through the DVDs and found Postcards from Amsterdam by Dayna Kurtz. Ben had only just installed a wide screen the previous night and was dying to use it so I handed him Postcards from Amsterdam and he popped it into the DVD player and handed me the remote control.
Yeah, I'll have that, was my response after flipping through a few tracks. Ben was pleased as it was the first DVD he had sold following his installation of the wide screen and he was keen to recoup his investment.
Postcards from Amsterdam was recorded and filmed at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, 5 June 2003.
Guitarist singer-songwriter Dayna Kurtz is one of those people who are impossible to categorise. Soul, blues, jazz, rock, folk? A raw husky voice. I thought of a female Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, Rickie Lee Jones, Billy Holiday, Nina Simone, the rawness of the 1960s Animals, Allen Ginsberg put to music. Dayna Kurtz is all and none of these.
Of one thing we can be certain, Dayna Kurtz ain't pop!
Albums to date include: Otherwise Luscious Life, Postcards from Downtown, and Beautiful Yesterday. The first two albums showcase her songwriting skills, the third is her interpretation of the works of other songwriters including Billie Holiday, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sam Cooke, Eszter Balint.
Beautiful Yesterday features guest appearances from Norah Jones, who duets with Dayna on Duke Ellington's 'I Got It Bad' and the classical quartet Ethel, who compliment Kurtzís rendering of 'Parlez-Moi DíAmour', a song from the soundtrack of the 1991 film Henry and June.
One of the influences on Dayna Kurtz has been Paterson, New Jersey, where she lived for several years. Allen Ginsberg, one of her childhood heroes and a strong influence, grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, where he also attended high school.
'Paterson' is about Paterson. 'Just Like Jack' is about Jack Kerouac, one of the Beat Generation, a contemporary of Allen Ginsberg.
'Parlez-Moi DíAmour', 'Paterson' and 'Just Like Jack', can all be found on Postcards From Amsterdam.
Dayna Kurtz began performing her original compositions in public as a teenager, and spent the better part of a decade touring solo across the back roads of America, selling CDs out of the back of her car. In doing so she built up a substantial cult following from her appearances at various concerts and festivals.
Postcards From Downtown was a surprise Top 20 hit in Holland, which resulted in her appearance at the prestigious Paridiso in Amsterdam, from where Postcards From Amsterdam was recorded.
The Beat Generation, also known as the beat movement, were a group of American writers who emerged in the 1950s. Among its most influential members were Gary Snyder, the radical poet Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Jack Kerouac was the acknowledged leader and spokesman for the Beat Generation. A common theme that linked them all together was a rejection of the prevailing American middle-class values, the purposelessness of modern society and the need for withdrawal and protest.
Dayna Kurtz is not the first to be influenced by the Beat Generation. In the summer of 1965, Ginsberg and several Beats travelled to London. Their reading at the Royal Albert Hall led to the beginning of the London underground scene, based at the UFO Club. Bands to emerge from the UFO Club included Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. Others to be influenced included Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, Country Joe and the Fish, Crosby Stills Nash and Young.
Beat Generation members like Allen Ginsberg were influential in the Vietnam anti-war movement.