Every night, Dumont, the driving force behind The Blue Dahlia, would pop into Barbès, the Brooklyn bar famous for its intimacy and its boisterous global music. Recently returned from several years in France, Dumont was struggling with a new baby, her father’s serious illness, and nursing school.
The music she heard at night inspired her, as did the people she met at the club. “I decided to get some songs down as a demo,” she recalls. Her fellow regulars joined in, and a band was born.
The Blue Dahlia has bloomed in two places at once, on the streets of Paris as well as in New York clubs. The Atlantic-spanning band’s latest album weaves French, Mexican, Caribbean, and Eastern European, American folk and soul elements together into La Tradition Américaine(release: August 10, 2018). Guided by a puckish refinement and gritty ingenuity, Dumont explores the US’s double-faced tradition of welcoming diversity while wallowing in backwater closed-mindedness and mindless devotion to work and money, through a global lens and with collaborators who take everything from Yiddish poetry to pint glasses and chopsticks to make free-thinking, high-spirited songs.
“My influences stem from growing up in New York as a first-generation American, but also from all the musicians that I work with, all the sides of American music out there,” reflects Dumont. “As I was thinking about the song of that name, and then about this album, the notion of the American tradition went in two seperate directions in my head and heart, the dark bigotry and the amazing openness that’s shaped art. We’re highlighting the beauty of the American tradition, the cultural diversity you find in our music,” be that a Mexican-inflected playful French waltz (“Canal Saint Martin”), punk string quartet (“Blah Blah”), or a klezmer meets dub (“Wake Me Up”).