‘Mystic Blues’ results from 30 years of music making
September 1, 2011
By ANDY GRAY Tribune Chronicle , Tribune Chronicle | TribToday.com
Louise Damstoft-Hathaway, better known in local music circles as Madam Weez, expected to have her debut CD available for this weekend's Breast Cancer Benefit Reunion Concert.
Assorted technical glitches, including a box of CDs that arrived earlier this month with full art but no sound on the discs, probably will keep that from happening.
But after waiting 30 years to release her debut album, what's another couple weeks?
''I've been playing honky tonks in this area for over 30 years,'' Damstoft-Hathaway said.
She credited several friends and colleagues who pushed her to write and record ''Mystic Blues.''
Damstoft-Hathaway, 53, played in different bands over years but was tired of the drama and hassles that come with being in a band, and she was having trouble finding a partner for a duo.
Mark Briggs, her friend and bandmate in Breakaway, and local musician Gary Pirrung were among those who told her she should try a solo act. Another friend helped her come up with the name Madam Weez, which fit because its mystical connotations were appropriate for a woman fascinated by such things as pirates, extra-terrestrials and Native American rituals.
''I didn't' have the confidence,'' she said. ''Once I started it, it kicked off pretty well. Even the younger people seemed to like the classic rock songs I did.''
Howland native Tommy McCoy, a blues musician now based in Florida and the one who started the Breast Cancer Benefit Reunion Concert, encouraged her to write more and to make time for writing.
''He taught me if you have the intent to write and work on it, it comes to you,'' she said. ''If you have that talent and let it flow, it will come.''
Briggs, McCoy and Jerry Ross (founder of the Tampa Bay and Sarasota blues festivals) all encouraged her to record her music.
''Basically, everyone did it for free,'' Damstoft-Hathaway said. ''What do I need a CD for? 'Just so you have it for a legacy,' they said. Once I started writing it was like, 'Wow, maybe this is what I'm supposed to do'.''
''Mystic Blues'' primarily was recorded at Briggs' Doktrmuzik Studios in St. Augustine, Fla. Roger Hatfield gave Damstoft-Hathaway a tune he co-wrote called ''There He Goes Again,'' and McCoy contributed one of his songs to the disc, ''Never Shoulda Listened,'' which they do as a duet.
''She really knocked it out of the park,'' McCoy said. ''I was very pleased to hear what she did with it.''
Damstoft-Hathaway wrote or co-wrote most of the tracks on the disc. ''Chocolates & You'' was co-written with Ross as the two traded lyrics back and forth via Yahoo Messenger.
''That was such a new millennium experience for this old-school musician,'' she said.
But the technological advances that make songwriting possible 1,000 miles apart also make it easier to get the music heard once it is written. Damstoft-Hathaway already has gotten feedback from as far away as Australia from those who have found her music online.
Whenever the disc is delivered by the manufacturer, Damstoft-Hathaway will have it for sale at her gigs and hopes to have it stocked by local retailers.
Madam Weez will play a set Saturday at Up a Creek Tavern in Howland for the jam night in conjunction with the benefit concert, and she will join McCoy on stage Sunday at Packard Music Hall to perform ''Never Shoulda Listened.''
''I'm fortunate to have people who support me, have my back and lead me in the right direction,'' she said. ''I'm having a good time with it.''