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Thursday, March 13 • 9:00pm - 9:30pm

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OLGA Hailing from San Francisco of Austrian parentage, Olga is among the vanguard of new blues artists combining innovation with a deep sense of roots. Though listening to her soulful voice you’d swear no other soil but the Deep South’s could have reared this woman, her hardy carnivorous appetite attests to the Austrian blood coursing through her veins! “I’ve always connected with the blues,” she explains, “especially classic and country blues.” She learned early on the healing it brings, although initially the music’s power held her at bay. “I was afraid of the emotions that listening to the blues brought out of me. I was afraid to feel them…but once I let go of that, I discovered something that was comforting, soothing, and appealing to me…on all kinds of levels!” Having received classical training in voice, piano, and violin from a young age, her friend’s guitar and Jimi Hendrix: Blues soon kidnapped her mind and soul. At first she was hesitant. She’d “somehow become convinced that a white girl couldn’t sing the blues.” People still register disbelief when she tells them she’s a blues maker. “Then they hear me and they really can’t believe it! Her early mentors, Maria Muldaur and Los Lobos (“they showed me how to survive long-term in the business…and they write kick-ass tunes!”), played pivotal roles in schooling this young talent in blues, jazz, and Latin music. Early inspirers included Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Junior Kimbrough (“it’s my dream to play like him”), Memphis Minnie (“she writes killer songs, was an independent woman, and a hellcat!”), and Peggy Lee (“the woman has a gorgeous voice and such style!) But there’s a living legend currently nourishing Olga’s roots. “Jessie Mae Hemphill is without a doubt a major influence on me,” she affirms, “I feel like I’ve been looking for her my whole life.” The two met after Olga, having found her address, contacted Jessie Mae. “I’d always liked her records and wondered if she was still around,” she explains. “Then we began speaking by phone and not long thereafter I went to see her in Senatobia [MS]. We discovered we had the same birthday,” Olga remembers, “and immediately felt a kinship for each other. She told me that first day that she thought Jesus sent me to her.” They’ve since begun a tradition of sharing their birthdays together…in addition to their beloved tradition of “frying a lot of chicken legs!” Olga now calls Memphis and New Orleans “homes”. In addition to her extensive gigs producing local and nationally syndicated radio shows, she participated in Martin Scorcese’s documentary on the blues with Jessie Mae, North Mississippi Allstars, T Model Ford, Otha Turner, Corey Harris and John Spencer Blues Explosion. She’s shared the stage in recent years with Chrs Isaak, Coco Robicheaux, Robert Randolph, DJ Logic, Papa Mali, North MS Allstars, James Mathus Knockdown Society, Los Lobos, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Hobex, The Driveby Truckers, Jim Dickinson, Johnny Neel (Allman Brothers), and Matt Abts (Gov’t Mule). She played the Pepsi Arena as backup for Gene Chandler, Edie Holeman, and Carl Carlton, the Denver Lilith Fair in 1999, and showcased at the 2001 CMJ Music Marathon in NYC. Her new stomping grounds include Tobacco Road and the Living Room in New York, the Young Ave. Deli and Full Moon Club in Memphis, and Dos Jefe’s Cigar Bar and House of Blues in New Orleans. While Olga has mesmerized audiences with her blend of Mississippi Hill Country blues and singer/songwriter material, she’ll be the first to admit that she “can write some killer pop tunes!” Indeed songwriter and storyteller are two of the most apt terms to describe Olga. “I feel that what I’m doing is really soulful and unique,” she reflects, “I’d like to be a link in the blues chain, one that keeps this style of music alive for the next generation.” Her continued study of the genre with legendary Hill Country blues artist Jessie Mae Hemphill should ensure such a link. Olga’s dedication to the blues shines through her voice and hollow-body electric Washburn as she continues down the path of her mentors, paying homage to those who paved that backcountry road. “I can’t redo what’s already been mastered by the greats…but I can pass along the stories and the lessons learned, and preserve the tradition.” Spoken like a true torchbearer of the blues.

Thursday March 13, 2008 9:00pm - 9:30pm
Fado Patio 214 W 4th St

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