Author: Brent Millet
Dressed for the breeze in a long denim skirt and loosely clinging to a plastic cup of Cava, Dashuri Egriu covers Sade’s “Sweetest Taboo” at a local watering-hole near the water. With an all male band behind her, they blended a smooth and casual jazz sound, rendering an up-tempo and more sultry version than the 1985 original. For three hours Dashuri and the ensemble played covers new and old, originals, and jam-songs introduced as if they were hilarious secrets saying, “Ok this next one… is called ‘Jam in B minor”.
During each song all five musicians took their times in the proverbial spotlight showcasing that they were indeed talented professionals, despite the number of drinks the crowd had bought for them and the casual banter and laughter between tracks. Dashuri sat on an amp with her feet dangling while she scatted, releasing riffs and cries, prodding her vocal chords to fill the unfillable outdoor space with both curious and melodically full scales. She effortlessly skipped octaves and created melodies with G.C., the group’s percussionist, all the while, coyly laughing and flirting with the music, not the crowd. The performance was like watching a private rehearsal amongst friends– the band only concerned with making music that felt good, and the audience only concerned with, well… whether or not there was a Pokéstop nearby or being present with the sounds of the music.
The performance was like watching a private rehearsal amongst friends– the band only concerned with making music that felt good, and the audience only concerned with, well… whether or not there was a Pokéstop nearby or being present with the sounds of the music.
It wasn’t until after the show that I caught up with Dashuri, where at the venue’s bar she had explained to me that she had only just met two out of the four band members moments before the performance and that the entire three hour performance was truly unrehearsed and live– something unnoticed by the audience and those passing by, many of whom asked “what’s your band’s name?”
After reducing a local drunk to rubble for approaching her with profanity, Dashuri caught me up on some of the details of her art as of late… and some profanity of her own.
Q: I first saw you perform at the Puerto Rican Festival in 2014 and you were performing with the band Pulse, which I heard you are no longer with, so what have you been up to since then?
I did the Infringement Festival last year and with that I had the opportunity to just feel comfortable in my own skin and to share my music in a place that had exposure and given me the opportunity to see how people receive my music.
A: I’ve really just been doing my own music. Most recently I started gigging with some badass musicians I’ve never gigged with before. I did the Infringement Festival last year and with that I had the opportunity to just feel comfortable in my own skin and to share my music in a place that had exposure and given me the opportunity to see how people receive my music.
Q: What made you want to Infringe again this year?
A: It gives me the opportunity to go to places where I might not usually perform, like people might not hear this type of music or spoken word, but because I’m there, I can get in their heads. It’s not that they don’t have a choice, they are just being infringed upon.
Q: What was your favorite venue from last year’s Infringement?
A: It would have to be Nietzsche’s. I’ve had too many good times there.
Q: Are you talking about drunken good times or performance good times?
A: I’m talking about all types of good times [laughter] Good times you wouldn’t tell people about and those ‘you should have been there’ times too.
Q: You’ve been performing for a few years now, done numerous shows at many different venues, why do artists like yourself choose to perform during the Infringement Festival?
A: Even if I ignored my music throughout the year, infringement for me, because of how much fun I had, it makes you rise to the occasion. Nobody knows what’s going to happen and it’s amazing. Half the time, you don’t know who you’re playing with, there may not be someone doing sound, or you don’t know what time everyone goes on, you’ve never seen half the people that you’re supposed to be working with, you just show up there and hope it works out. And it always seems to have.
Q: Who are some other performers you’d like to work with?
A: Well I’m excited this year because I’m working with Short Moscato for the first time. Were putting together an acoustic set. I’m also going to be working with Sweet Sue and the Synthesizers. We are doing an event called “Tea Time”, which is a tea party. We’re pairing teas with music to stimulate the mind with music and tea.
Q: Are you talking tea or…
A: Yeah. Tea, like the kind you could buy at Wegman’s, not like the kind you could buy from a shady friend… Not to offend any of my tea-activist or tea-party friends…
Q: What is it like to basically be conductor of the band by being the vocalist?
A: Well the truth is… I’m not controlling the show, so I just go with whatever I feel. The gift of singing is you can just shut up and let everyone play at some point, or you can start singing. you are one of the instruments, but you’re not an instrument that’s necessary at all times. It’s nice when you have someone that takes the lead, but allows you to also do your part.
Q: As an artist, do you feel the Buffalo music/art scene is finally gaining recognition??
A: There isn’t going be one person that’s going to capture the culture of what Buffalo is, but also there’s not going to be just one of us that is going to save the day or breathe life back into the scene, it’s just existing as a collective consciousness and it will exist whether or not we highlight it. And I think that is what’s so f***ing cool about Infringement. Everyone is in it. There is no one trying to capture a particular type of scene, everyone is allowed to participate in any way they can and no one is knocked for it and everyone is just existing. And that is what I believe to be the true culture of Buffalo and infringement allows that to happen wholly and freely.
For example, last year I was doing the closing ceremonies of Infringement and I was singing by myself and I felt so good and alive and I was just singing there with one microphone. While I was performing I saw that my sister was there to see me sing and I said “Jenevieve you need to come up here and sing with me!” And we sang together into one mic and we and everyone else there had a blast. What was so cool about that was that it released a boundary that might have even existed within the bond of me and my sister. We’ve been singing together for years, but we had never sang into one mic on a show that we both were not booked on. Since then, now, every single time I go out to her shows, or she comes out to mine, whether or not it’s paid, we’re sick, or if we haven’t picked up a guitar in months, we perform together. That’s what Infringement does, it pulls this other side out of you that says, f*** it, lets do this sh**.
Q: What else is in store for summer 2016 for Dashuri?
A: It’s a secret, you’re just going to have to follow me.
Dashuri Egriu is a Buffalo born artist who performs both acoustic and plugged sets as a solo artist as well as with other local artists. The genre of which she assigns her music to is Folk-R&B and she will be performing during the Infringement Festival July 28th to August 7th. You can follow her on Instagram @dashlala and like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/dashegriu. To stay in touch with what’s what, who’s who, and where all the who’s and what’s are at in Buffalo Infringement, visit us as InfringeBuffalo.org, follow us on Twitter @InfringeBuffalo, or look us up on Facebook at Buffalo Infringement Festival.