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Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri Bean

Photo of Datri Bean, Minor Mishap Marching Band and Datri BeanDarci K. Patterson

How would you describe your music?

"Datri Bean: Southern-fried vintage jazz. Original songs which blend languid vocals and early jazz with Klezmer and folk.

Minor Mishap Marching Band: A 25 piece renegade brass band, playing eclectic original tunes inspired by the Russian circus, 1920's jazz, Esquivel and the Balkan brass bands."

What is your role in your band? In the studio? In business or marketing decisions?

"In my main project, simply called by my name, Datri Bean, I am the songwriter, band leader, and arranger. I co-produced my most recent album, Ruby (due out August 2010). I handle all business and marketing decisions, booking and promotion.

In my other project- Minor Mishap Marching Band - a 25 piece renegade marching band - I am the bandleader, composer, arranger, conductor and play melodica and accordion. In this project I also handle all business aspects of the band including booking, promotion and graphic design."

Describe your gear.

An upright piano I bought when I was twenty. A soprano Lanakai ukulele, and a small light weight Titan accordion. For gigs where no piano is available I bring a full size, weighted key, Yamaha keyboard.

Related Themes: Gear

Do you think being a woman and a musician is different from being a man and a musician? If so, how? Was there a moment that made a difference clear to you?

"Absolutely.

One of the most common comments I hear from the Minor Mishap Marching Band audience is that they are inspired to see a woman in such a powerful role. I am conducting a leading a 25 piece band of mostly men. I am composing for the group; I am making most business decisions. People love to see a woman in charge of such an ambitious musical project, mostly because it is so rare to see women in the roles of conductor, leader, and composer. (By the way, our entire low brass section is also composed of all women!)"

Related Themes: Behind The Music

Do you see differences between generations of women musicians?

"Yes. A lot of the female musicians we know from past generations, were vocalists- not instrumentalists, not writers, certainly not band leaders. Even if they could do these things, they were relegated to the role of vocalist with a pretty face, and not allowed to show their other musical abilities. For example, Charo was a really good classical guitarist- but the industry quickly took her out from behind the guitar and had her dancing instead. Very few people know her as anything but a flashy performer and pretty face.

As time passes women are integrating themselves into more roles. Many more of my peers are staying behind the guitar, drum kit, bass and making their own business and creative decisions."

Related Themes: Off The Clock

Did anyone ever give you any valuable advice about making your way in the music industry? What advice would you give to a woman musician just starting out?

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You aren't preparing for some big change or event to happen- your life and your music are not in the future. Whatever you are doing right now is what you are doing. With that in mind, do it for yourself. Try to do it in a balanced, healthy way.

Related Themes: Advice

Why did you choose to play the instrument you play?

"Our neighbors across the street were moving to Saudi Arabia (he was a medical doctor interested in working with underprivileged populations abroad) and they gave us their piano. I started playing on it immediately; I was 5. I remember trying to write at that age as well, though it took me quite a few more years to learn to write songs. My piano teacher taught me classical music, but I was obsessed with an old Scott Joplin record my mother had and would listen to it all the time. I feel like my music now is a quirky fusion of classical technique and a love for the earthier, sassier sounds and rhythms of early jazz.

In my adult life, I picked up the ukulele, mostly due to its prevalence in the popular music of the 1920's. I find writing with the ukulele and its sweet delicate sound inspires some of my most vulnerable work. I also leads me to whistle in public.

I taught myself to play the accordion within the last few years. I love Klezmer music and French chanson, and accordion is a good entrance into both genres."

Related Themes: The First Time