As DC Week heads into extra innings, Zero to 180 ponders the metaphysical with a song I always suspected to have been written with the spiritual assistance of a certain bespectacled singer-songwriter from Lubbock, Texas. My instincts, as it turns out, were eerily prescient, for I later confirmed that Bob “Newscaster” Swenson – guitarist with Dagmar & the Seductones – did, indeed, channel the spirit of Buddy Holly in the course of composing an instant classic, “Lucky Stars“:
Dagmar & the Seductones (2004)
Swenson reveals the mysterious forces at work in an exclusive interview with Zero to 180:
“In the summer of 2002, I was out of work and starting to get back into playing guitar after a long hiatus. For no particular reason, I woke up every day with a piece of a new song in my head. I thought that I must be having a stroke. But I went ahead and started writing down song ideas, sometimes two or three a day. Out of the dozens of fragments came several rock and roll songs that were eventually recorded by me with Dagmar and the Seductones and others, including ‘Lucky Stars,’ with J.P. McDermott and Western Bop, on indie labels.
“One song came to me fully formed, as if I’d heard it all my life – verses, chorus, arrangement – and it was finished before I could even get out of bed. That song was ‘Lucky Stars.’ I’ve often said that it really was a Buddy Holly song, but Buddy never got the chance to write it.”
2004’s Little Bitta Love
Swenson, a (second-generation) Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee who has recorded with DC artists, Tex Rubinowitz, Bob E. Rock, Billy Hancock, and Eva Cassidy, has also performed with Bo Diddley, Jack Scott, Big Sandy, Evan Johns, Eddie Angel, and Robert Gordon, among others. Bob’s musical roots run pretty deep and can be better appreciated by clicking here for the full story.
Vocalist Andrea Dagmar-Swenson Brown, no slouch either, is a classically-trained pianist and violinist, whose grandfather was a renowned and gifted craftsman of violins (of which only three are known to exist).
Defying familial expectations, Dagmar secretly embarked upon a musical path that embraced roots rockabilly and electric blues, first with John Previti (Danny Gatton, Paul Simon, et al.) and later with the first incarnation of the Seductones, a three-woman, one-man punkabilly outfit that played regularly at beloved (and defunct) Bethesda, MD music venue, The Psyche Delly.
The Seductones (c. 1982)
Dagmar (left) with Newscaster & Elizabeth Thompson (drums)
plus Erica Hunter (bass)
Never one to stand still, Dagmar has plied her talents here and around the world as a graphic artist, photographer, television producer, video director, songwriter – and even teacher of English at the high school level. Dagmar loves to paint – having enjoyed a residency in 2012 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art – and she and Bob have even collaborated on Cretaceous-themed comic art.
“Lucky Stars,” from 2004’s Little Bitta Love, also features bass work from Bryan Smith and drumming from Dave Elliott – one of Danny Gatton’s original “Fat Boys.” Over the years, the Seductones have enjoyed a wide-ranging extended family, whose members have included Chris Watling of The Grandsons, multi-instrumentalist Ira Gitlin, guitarist Dave Kitchen, and drummer Jeff Lodsun, among others.
Newscaster with Dave Elliott, Bryan Smith & Dagmar
(photo courtesy of Bill Hanke)
Disclaimer: “Lucky Stars” – as with each and every song featured on this blog – is a copyrighted work of art. Please show your support for these hardworking artists by purchasing their music, patronizing live shows, and even better – buying songs directly from the artists themselves at musical performances. We can only enjoy the fruits of a civilized society when our artists get paid.
Dagmar & The Seductones
balcony view at Silver Spring’s Half Moon BBQ
LINK to DC Week on Zero to 180