Friday, April 20, 2018

Courtney Yasmineh Returning to the Northland for Dylan Fest

It's been five years since her first Duluth Dylan Fest when she shared a stage with Scarlet Rivera and Gene LaFond at Weber Hall. The following year she returned with enthusiasm and after her performance we talked about where her career has taken her, whereupon I learned she was also writing and working on a novel. This time around A Girl Called Sidney, her first in a quartet of books, has been completed and the second well on its way.

Courtney's returning here to rock, though, and you find her Wednesday night with Rob Genadek at The Rex @ Fitgers right after the Highway 61 Band Five dollars gets you fifty dollars worth of music that night.

EN: You begin your bio by talking about how rare honesty is in rock and roll. Why is this? And is it something that has gotten worse, this lack of honesty?

Courtney Yasmineh: Well, the bio was written by a publicist, so that isn’t necessarily my own viewpoint. I guess I would say that certain artists in popular music are more genuine or authentic or honest than others and that I always endeavor to be sincere in my work.

EN: Your energy and drive are noteworthy. Where does this energy come from? That is, what's behind it that propels you to perform?

CY: I feel that this is my time to fully explore being a full time artist, now that my children are grown. I’m excited to be able to do all that I can.

EN: When did you start your blog and what have you learned from this daily discipline?

CY: I started the blog after my recent tour in Europe. I felt that I wanted to sidestep the constraints of social media and write more freely for people who want to stay in touch with me as an artist. Most of my adult life I have written in a journal every morning. Now I have the idea that it would be inspiring to others and to myself to share these morning musings in a semi-public way on my own website.

EN: Your blog projects an explosion of color that is catchy. At the top of the page is the title of your new album, The High Priestess and the Renegade. Which one is you, high priestess or renegade? Can you elaborate on this?

CY: I am the high priestess and the renegade. And also Rob Genadek, the Minneapolis music producer I work with, he is the renegade as well. I saw a High Priestess card in a Tarot deck and she has her hand on a lion’s head. She tames the lion with her inner strength and graciousness. The picture of me on the front of the album artwork is the High Priestess. The picture of the lion on the back cover is the renegade….and my fans and I like to say that the lion is Rob, too.

EN: You've been performing internationally since when? And do you have a favorite memory from performing abroad?

CY: March 2018, 26 shows in 32 days, was my 11th Europe tour! Some years we went twice, and this year we are invited back to play outdoor festivals in August, so it’s been twelve tours in ten years. My favorite memory was the filming of my music video “Heartbreak Woman” in Paris. I loved that! You can watch it on youtube or on my website.

EN: You've given credit to Bob Dylan's music for getting you through a very hard winter when you were young. I know other's who have said Dylan's music helped get them through hard times. What is it that enables him to connect with so many kinds of people?

CY: I think Mr. Dylan has written songs to express pain in a very sincere way. The beauty of his melodies and the brilliance of his words has never overshadowed the deep feelings running through his recordings. As a performer, especially on his recordings, he has so many times been able to create an atmosphere of remoteness, a sense of only you listening to only him.

EN: You've released four albums of original music and songs. What is your process for writing songs?

CY: The new album is my seventh, believe it or not. I write songs as I walk outside usually. I just start singing a soundtrack to whatever is happening in my life and in my heart. I sing it, right from the first words. Then if it seems promising, I sing the first line over and over until I get home so I won’t forget it and then I sit down and actually work out the rest with a guitar and a note pad and a recording device.

EN: Last time you were in Duluth we discussed writing. You mentioned you were working on a book. Have you published it now? What's it about and where can people find it?

CY: Yes, I had been thinking for many years about how to tell the story of the year I ran away from Chicago and stayed alone for the winter in my grandfather’s deserted old cabin on Lake Vermilion.

I was approached by a publisher out of Chicago a few years ago. She had heard that I was a songwriter and touring artist who also was writing fiction. So with her encouragement I wrote and edited a very concise version of the story.

That first novel, in the literary fiction category, came out a year ago in June. It is the first in a four book series with the second book due out in early 2019. The novels are about a girl who wants to be a songwriter, and yes, the stories are based on my own experiences. I find prose writing to be very hard work. I find songwriting to be delightful hard work. I’m very grateful that I get to go around singing my songs.

I got the idea to make it a four book series in an effort to show a woman’s life of pursuing her artistry and also having children and trying to survive by conventional and less conventional means.

Book one has had excellent reviews and is available internationally at independent booksellers as well as all Barnes&Noble stores, and is available on Amazon.com in ebook and paperback.

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Related Links
Courtney's Website
Another place to find her book.
Complete Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule 
Follow Courtney on her blog. 

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