Maverick Life

TRUE BLUES

Strung out — Dan Patlansky can’t kick his guitar habit, and fans love it

Strung out — Dan Patlansky can’t kick his guitar habit, and fans love it
Dan Patlansky. (Photo: Blyde Smit)

The guitarist with a fanbase far beyond South Africa talks about his lifelong addiction to his beloved instrument and his latest album.

A live performance by blues-based guitarist and singer Dan Patlansky is a sublime and unforgettable experience. Fortunately for his fans, he regards touring as an integral part of his life as a musician.

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

When I was about 14 years old, I got my first electric guitar and started learning David Gilmour solos from Shine On (You Crazy Diamond). Instantly, the music and guitar bug bit. I spent way more time playing guitar than doing schoolwork. When I started seeing progress in what I was doing, guitar playing became a complete addiction, and I haven’t been able to kick it.

Outside your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?

I would have to say visual art in most forms. Colours have always captured my imagination, and when just right, I can stare at a piece of art for hours on end. As a musician, in many ways we are trying to create a palette of colours for the listener. The listener sees those colours completely uniquely, which is why art is so beautiful.

Which artists have inspired you, and why?

There are many, but Stevie Ray Vaughan stands out because of his complete command and power over his instrument. He is both soulful and in your face, both delicate and relentless. Pink Floyd because of their ability to create visual scapes with music and take the listener on a deep journey to a place and time that’s been completely undiscovered. And Chris Cornell, who is blessed with one of the greatest voices of our time, one I could only dream of.

What, to you, is art’s most important function?

It enables people to escape and shows us what’s beyond the boundaries of what we thought was possible. Art is the ultimate form of expression, and I find a lot of pleasure in other people taking something deeper away after listening to my music. One of my biggest forms of inspiration is listening to other artists and the way they interpret music and the world. Art is only art if the person on the other end is moved in some way, shape or form.  

Local creatives who excite you?

Maxx & Love are absolutely fantastic. They put a huge theatrical spin on the blues, which I have not seen before. It’s a very fresh take on the genre and I’m sure that it will pay off for them in a big way someday.

What specific work do you return to again and again, and why?

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Texas Flood album. It was a massive learning curve for me and still is to this day. I return to this album when I feel I need to be grounded guitar-playing wise. There are a lot of unbelievable playing moments, as well as simple and subtle moments that remind me about the importance of balance between the two.

What do you think of the AI revolution?

I think artificial intelligence, if used properly, can be a great tool, but as soon as it completely takes the human mind out of the equation, it becomes dangerous and can make a lot of creative arts boring. For example, sometimes asking AI for a song title can spark so many great ideas lyrically, but asking AI to write the lyrics for the whole song completely defeats the point of what we do and why people listen to what we do.

Dan Patlansky

The cover of Dan Patlansky’s latest album, ‘Movin’ On’.

Any project you’re unveiling or wrapping up?

We finished recording my new album, Movin’ On, last September and I am super happy with the result. My goal was to make an album that was as close to a live show as possible and also to make an album that, if I were not the artist, I would happily buy myself. I’m releasing Movin’ On on 1 March and will be touring South Africa with it for the whole of March. We will be covering Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. Then we jump on a plane to the UK and do 10 dates across England, Wales and Scotland. Before we return home, we make a quick stop in Budapest, Hungary, to end the tour. DM

Mick Raubenheimer is a freelance arts writer.

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This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Grumpy Old Man says:

    I have no musical ear whatsoever – but love Blues / Blues Rock music. I love Stevie Ray Vaughan & Texas Flood is a favorite of mine. I have seen Dan play. He opened for Springsteen at the FNB Stadium (& no one ever gets to open for Springsteen) Dan with Elvis Blue doing the vocals was beyond incredible. Probably one of the greatest sets I have ever had the privilege of listening too. Dan is proper

  • Acwam 58 says:

    Phenomenal musician and an excellent human being.

  • Kyriacos Demetriades says:

    An excellent guitarist . And his admiration of the late Stevie Ray is shared by many. A true master of the instrument.

  • Riaan Duvenage says:

    Dan is a brilliant musician and simply a great person.

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