Nashville vocalist and songwriter Dara Tucker and her band perform at Natalie’s on Sunday, July 7th at 8pm. Tickets and more info are available here. This event is the next installment of Natalie’s monthly Soul Sunday concert series hosted by Paisha Thomas, bringing soulful music of all stripes to their intimate stage. Tucker recently released The Seven Colors, a “stripped-down” affair produced by guitarist Charlie Hunter. Tucker was kind enough to answer questions via email – Keep reading to learn much more about the new album, tour and her band, and get ready for a soulful experience on July 7th!
Tell me about your recent release, “The Seven Colors.” What was your vision or goals for this album?
Dara Tucker (DT): After releasing “The Sun Season” in 2014 and “Oklahoma Rain” in 2017, “The Seven Colors” has come to represent the rainbow after the rain. These albums are really meant to act as a trilogy, though I didn’t know that when I first began recording them. But it’s nice that it worked out that way. I’m still working though grief after the loss of my parents in 2014, but I’m learning to see the beauty in life again.
“The Seven Colors” is minimalist, and even a bit simplistic in places. I think I’m learning to strip my life – creative and otherwise – down to its essential elements. I’m learning to ask myself, “What will it take to make me happy?” The Seven Colors represents the things in my life that are foundational to who I am – myself, along with my 6 brothers and sisters who have kept me afloat through this time of grief and loss, and my 7 musical influences – Jazz, Soul, Gospel, Americana, Musical Theater, ‘Rhythm & Blues’ and Pop. I would include in that interpretation, the rainbow itself, which in biblical terms, is the promise that the deluge that we have endured will never again visit us to that degree again. It’s the promise of peace and healing.
We released the project on May 31, 2019.
What was the experience like having Charlie Hunter produce the album?
DT: Guitarist Charlie Hunter was at the production helm of this project. While I was on the road with his band in 2018, we got to talking about his concept for producing a project on me. He’s always felt that a minimalist approach would work best for my voice. He wanted to strip away some of the heavy sonic layers and allow my voice to shine through. He also wanted to approach this music completely independent from any assumption of genre. What we got was an album that serves each song according to its own strengths. Charlie is a master of the groove, so he tends to start from there and work his way up.
He has a lot of wisdom – in life and in music. It was a challenge at times to step back and allow someone else to execute their vision for my songs. I had to trust that this minimalist approach would yield a completely different result from any project I’ve done before. He was open to ideas that I and the other band members threw out there, but ultimately, this was his concept of a Dara Tucker album. I think he built a lovely soundscape that really distinguishes “The Seven Colors” from any of my other projects. It’s earthy and urgent and rooted in the groove.
How have audiences reacted to “The Seven Colors” so far?
DT: We’ve gotten a lot of good early feedback from longtime listeners and live audiences. I’ve had several family members and friends tell me this is their favorite project of mine. It’s been a great experience to have that stripped-down band sound (guitar, bass and drums) along with a few background singers at several shows, and to see how the audience responds to that. It’s a context I feel really comfortable working in. I was raised singing harmony, so to be able to do that in a live context with this project is really exciting.
The locked-in grooves of songs like, “Miracle,” “Windows” and “Bright Red Hue” seem to reach out and grab folks right away. And many of the melodic figures that Charlie and the band came up with in the studio – “Miss Me,” “Won’t Be Long” and “Glory” – create musical touchstones that draw the listener in. It’s been a cool experience to see how that works. I’m looking forward to writing more music with this band concept in mind.
Tell us about the members of your touring band. What excites you about playing with them?
DT: On guitar, we have Johnny Duke, who’s a regular on the Nashville scene. This tour will actually be my first time playing with him. He comes highly recommended by our regular guitarist, JP Ruggieri, who’s based in Nashville as well. JP was actually recommended to us by Charlie Hunter, who felt he’d be the best ‘stand-in’ for him when we toured the album. I’m looking forward to discovering the unique brew that we develop for this run of shows with Johnny.
On bass is my longtime Musical Director – Greg Bryant. He had the unique challenge of being Charlie’s “left hand” on this project. Greg is no slouch himself when it comes to locking into a groove, and making you feel something. He’s as funky as they come, and he’s my go-to person for working out new ideas and bringing them to the band to flesh out before a crowd.
Rounding out the group, we have Derrek Phillips on drums. Derrek is a former member of The Charlie Hunter Trio. He and I actually got to do several shows together with Charlie last year. It was a huge thrill for me. I have nicknames for many of my band members, but with Derrek, all I can say is that he is quite simply, “The Best.”
Do you have any plans for new projects, etc. after your tour?
DT: I’m always ruminating about what the next step will be. It’s an equal blessing and curse for many creative people that the minute we put our newest work before the public, we’re already on to the next thing in our minds. I’ve probably got the equivalent of 3 more albums written already. There are few things that are more fulfilling than sitting down and hammering out a song that didn’t exist before. I’m ready to get back to that kind of work. I’m first and foremost a songwriter. I want to continue to do that regularly – whether or not I have a project to put out. But I’m hoping to get in the studio again next year to begin work on a new album.
Do you have anything else to share for Columbus jazz fans thinking about checking out your show, whether they’ve seen your past appearances at Natalie’s or are new to your work?
DT: You’ll hear something at this show that I’ve never done before. I’m presenting several of my favorite tracks from, “The Sun Season” and supplementing those songs with several of the influences that helped to mold this album. I’m delving into gospel, blues, R&B, Soul and even some acapella, percussion-driven chordless music that I don’t get the chance to do often. I try to give listeners a new experience each time they see me.
Get a taste of “The Seven Colors” via Tucker’s video for “Miracle”: