Chicago Blues Hall of Famer Deitra Farr will perform for the first time ever in Australia at MEMO Music Hall, St Kilda in January and treat Melbourne to authentic Chicago blues.
The 61-year old blues legend says she hasn’t toured Australia before because no-one ever asked her. “I walked in the door from Switzerland, dropped my luggage and a young lady told me that somebody wanted my phone number to come to Australia. That’s how it happened,” Deitra tells Noise11.com.
Deitra was introduced to the Blues at birth. “I was born in 1957 it was at the height of blues, gospel and soul music,” she says. “This is a heavily musical town I was born into so I got hit with it really hard as a child. My Dad played Blues all day, my Mother liked Jazz and my Grandfather liked Country & Western. He was a truck-driver to Mississippi so he could listen to Country music all day long. My maternal Grandmother was into Gospel so I got to hear that. My step-mother was a Salsa dancer and played a lot of that. My personal music is Soul music from Motown and Stax Records from Memphis and Chicago soul music. There was music around me all time”.
Deitra did get to see the blues culture in its natural environment until 1980. “I didn’t go into a Blues club until 1980,” she tells Noise11. “I was too young. I was in my early 20s. I used to sneak into other venues in high-school. I saw Nancy Wilson (who just passed away), I spent a whole week with Martha Reeves. I saw James Brown, the Jacksons, the Fifth Dimension, the O’Jays, The Temptations. I saw everyone in the 70s in theatres. I went to Festivals and saw Muddy Waters a few times”.
Chicago was also the home of John Belushi who co-created The Blues Brothers with Dan Ackroyd. “The Blues Brothers opened up a door for more exposure. It effected me,” she said. “ When the movie The Blues Brothers came out it was around the same time I started going to blues clubs. It had an effect on me. I think they opened the door to people who didn’t think about blues they helped expose it”.
Deitra also credits the Stones with getting the Blues message out to the world. “The Rolling Stones and some of the British groups exposed blues to Europe,” she says. “They told people were they got it from. They told people about Muddy Waters. I would give them credit. That happened in the 60s but for the later generation in the 80s the Blues Brothers movie did a lot”.
Deitra Farr will perform at MEMO Music Hall in St Kilda, Melbourne on 26 January, 2019. Get tickets here