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February 10, 2021 58 min

A chat with Laura, Jeff H, Joel, and Scott of Duende as well as fans Renee, Jeanette, Dany, Sarah, Ryan, Lauren, Kate, Steve, Jeff M, Ben, and Matthew. We did the round table with the fans to get their stories of discovery with Duende. We shared the love of Duende music and the community that they create through their shows and associations with other bands. Ultimately with Duende you become part of a large and loving extended family that loves to dance. Finally, we explored the controversy surrounding the mighty pineapple.


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Chat with Duende - Show Notes - Duende Discovery

I picked on Renee first to hear her Duende discovery story. She couldn’t pinpoint when, where, or how she became a fan, but it was an undeniable force. The Duende trance created by the music ignited Renee’s interest. Yet it was the band and how they love and appreciate their fans that transformed Renee into a lifelong fan. 

The immediate draw for Lauren was Scott (Duende bassist and her husband). With a laugh, she added that she was glad the rest of the band kept her on. Laura (Duende drummer) mentioned that they always have fun together on the road.

Sarah is in the band catl with her husband Jamie who hail from Toronto, Detroit is the perfect launching point for tours across North America. In 2006, Sarah met Duende when they played a show together at the Painted Lady Lounge in Hamtramck. Sarah loved the energy of the music. In particular, Sarah being a drummer herself admires the powerful playing of Laura. They have remained friends ever since.

Also hailing from Canada are Jeanette and Dany who make up the band Dany Laj and The Looks. They met Duende via a show they played with them at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit. This was roughly six months after Sarah had met Duende. It was Dany and Jeanette’s first time in Detroit. Jeff H (guitars/vocals) and Laura invited Dany and Jeanette to stay at their home. Between the love of Duende’s music and their hospitality, they became great friends.

Jeanette and Dany enjoyed Jeff and Laura’s company so much, they have dropped in after shows in Detroit. They even turned down a vacation in Florida during the winter to stay with Jeff and Laura. Clearly the beautiful souls in Duende are strong attractors.

Even More Duende Discovery

The first time Ryan saw Duende he remembers with nostalgia, was at Club Bart in Ferndale (which closed in 2011). It was a “DuendesDay” and it made a lasting impression. Ryan explained that like other pivotal artists he enjoys, hearing Duende was a shock to the system. As Ryan explains the music is sonically dense requiring many listens and teaches you to appreciate it along the way.

Kate’s first exposure to Duende was at the Cadieux Cafe when her Trio (Kate Hinote Trio)  performed with them on a show. She remembers one last impression was that the music was loud (in a good way). Later Duende asked Kate if she would perform on one of their songs. After many shows and dance parties, Kate is still in love with the band.

Matthew is a newbie to Duende having first seen them just before the pandemic. Matthew was playing keyboards for the Algebra Mothers who were on the same bill with Duende. Matthew talked with Jeff H between sets and found that Jeff had listened to another band that Matthew has been part of for many years. The musical connection and synchronicity made for a new friendship along this strange and winding road of life.

Whipping Out the Cool Card

Whipping out the cool card was Jeff M who saw Duende at their second show ever in 2006 at Jacoby’s. Jeff met Duende at about the same time he was beginning his work as a music writer. He has many Ideas Adrift shall we say. He felt like their paths were entwined from the start. Over the course of time, they have developed into great friends and mutual fans.

Ryan turned Ben on to Duende. A couple of years ago, Ben along with Ryan in his band Ryan Dillaha and The Miracle Men played with Duende at a show in Toronto. The experience was fun and solidified Ben’s appreciation for the band. In fact, he’s been listening to Duende so much that their music is starting to influence his own songwriting. The power of Duende, ole!

Finally Steve was introduced to Duende through Scott and his wife Lauren. He thinks Duende is highly underrated. He loves their cool laid back sounds. On top of that, Steve said the band has a great name. We agree. Ole!

That one time at a Duende Show

Jeff M commented about how much fun it is to be at a Duende show. Obviously, we are all fans of the band and while their music is great, Jeff hit on a key aspect. Their live shows are supernatural.

Dany recalls the story of Duende playing with catl at the Dakota Tavern on New Year’s eve. Apparently there is a video of a guy in a monkey suit who gets on stage with Jeff H. The monkey was in fact the DJ at this Duende rock fest. The monkey was also Dr. Swankenstein’s alter-ego named Coco-Bongo. He played piano with Duende while sporting a fez. We all immediately thought that Joel (Duende guitarist) should have a fez. Actually, Joel was surprised he does not own a fez. If you are looking for a gift for Joel, there you go.

The Duende Neighborhood

Another insight from Jeff M is that as fans go to shows, they are pulled into the Duende neighborhood. The music, the performance, and the warm embracing nature of the band gives you a sense of community. Add in a fan base that welcomes everyone with open arms and it becomes easy to settle into the neighborhood.

The Optigan

As we talked about the community around Duende, Dany shared a story of the Optigan. He and Jeanette were staying over at Jeff H and Laura’s. Dany mentioned over morning coffee that in all the times they have stayed over, he had never seen the band’s practice space at Jeff and Laura’s house. 

Loaded up with coffee they descend into the Duende magical music factory. Here Dany saw the Optigan. Jeff explained that it is an organ that uses optical discs to play sounds. Basically a precursor to samplers. Jeff’s friend Matt V had bought it years ago and left it. They had been trying over the years to get it back to him in New York.

Dany thought that it probably would fit in their van. After some quick van Tetris, the Optigan was loaded up. Dany arranged with Matt V to pick up the Optigan. After hanging out post show, Matt mentioned that he wanted to record with Dany and Jeanette. The end result is their album Everything New is New Again.

Because of the Duende community and a visit to their magic music factory, Dany Laj and the Looks recorded a great album. Sadly, the Optigan did not make it on to the recording. We can only wonder as to what cosmic tones the Optigan is singing today.

Duende and the Detroit Myth

Renee brought up a great point about the community of Duende includes many of the great Detroit bands that they jam with. Bands like The Muggs, The Beggars, and Ryan Dillaha and the Miracle Men. I wondered what the members of Duende think about the myth of Detroit music. It seems that most stories of Detroit music focus on the past and not necessarily the present.

Joel replied that it is difficult to really gage the scene of current Detroit music as there is so much going on all the time. When we could play shows, there were a ton of options. It is difficult to see the present, yet easy to view the past.

Jeff H added that the myths of Detroit grow over time. What may have seemed like a golden age where in reality brief bursts of musical glory. The MC5 or The Stooges were brief, yet impactful aspects of Detroit music mythology. That mythology leads to a radiation that lends a bit of cred to the bands who continue to originate from the city.

Dany hit upon a great notion that the myth of Detroit music is really a soul of the city that oozes rock and roll. That impacts the music that is made here and draws touring bands here to feel that vibe. Sarah agreed that they sought out Detroit to connect with Jim Diamond. Adding that there are only a few cities like Detroit, and Memphis which generate that blue collar gritty rock feeling.

Bands With Cats

Sarah asked about Sonny the Cat. Evidently everyone on the call has cats. The cats were out and part of the show. Sarah shared a story where after a show at PJ’s, all the bands sat around and talked about their cats. The more we talked, the more we found that nearly all the fans also have cats. A new spin off series called Bands With Cats is in the works.

Duende and Pineapple

You’ll have to tap into the last bit of the show to learn about the origins of Duende’s band name. It is a compelling story. A story that is mesmerizing, if you will.

To wrap things up, we dove into controversy: Pineapple or no pineapple on pizza? In this episode, nearly everyone was into pineapple on pizza, with the exception of myself and Joel. We are firmly on the savory side. Go ahead and grab a slice of pizza. Then go back and listen to this great episode featuring Duende and their fans. Ole!

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