I got a text from my friend Sherryl the other day saying she saw this Japanese documentary on Al Kooper, (she was in the band at the time singing with him) and said "Dina!!!! You're featured in this movie!!!". To my surprise, in the middle of the movie was a section on NY Nightlife, and they interviewed a few owners of clubs, celebrities, and yours truly in my DJ Booth at the old China Club when it was on Broadway and 75th Street. This was the first time I had seen the video, and actually had no memory of even doing it!!! I've done so many news shows over the years, and have yet to see any of the clips, I guess I had just brushed it off. But, here's me with my curls saying a few words. Memories of me as a baby DJ!
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I brought to life a side project called The Sunflower Sessions last month (the title was inspired by my getting blown away by the immersive Van Gogh exhibition I went to last summer), and the feedback on this little art venture has been fantastic. All starting because I wrote a chapter in a forthcoming Bob Dylan Book (more on that soon...it will be released in the USA in May), and the author suggested I record one of the Dylan songs I had been doing during livestreams. Well, one song turned into two, then three.
Back in 2008, I recorded a live version of 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night', just me and an acoustic guitar. I was so impressed with the Nirvana version they performed on MTV Unplugged, that I was moved to do one of my own. However that recording I did had been sitting around collecting dust ever since. When the idea to do this side project came up, my long lost track found a home. So anyway, The Sunflower Sessions was born, featuring Mark Plati on 12 string guitar, vocals and bass (and he also mixed, and co-produced this project). Mark as some of you know used to be in David Bowie's band back in the 90s and was also his producer and mixer as well. He recently produced/mixed the new Bowie boxset called Toy that has just hit the streets this month to rave reviews. My long time friend Charlie Giordano also joined the project playing some truly gorgeous accordion. You may recognize his name from being Bruce Springsteen's organ player for many years. Noah Hoffeld is a brilliant cello player, and performing artist and totally killed it on my Lead Belly cover.
Mark, Noah and I released this Lead Belly cover last week and it's garnered a lot of attention. American Blues Scene magazine said '"Dina Regine Puts Own Stamp on Lead Belly's 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night'"
Read the full article and watch the video here: Exclusive Video Premiere
You can purchase/stream The Sunflower Sessions on all streaming platforms as well as on my Bandcamp page here: The Sunflower Sessions
Hey everybody, some exciting news!!! Americana Highways magazine has featured the video premiere of my cover of Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind' w/ Mark Plati (David Bowie) & Charlie Giordano (Springsteen). I'm pretty proud of this as I photographed and shot all the clips in this video as well as edited it. Mark Plati (who just recently produced/mixed the forthcoming Bowie box set) mixed, played 12 string guitar, and co-produced the track. Please take a few moments and have a look at my latest art project.
link here: Blowin' In The Wind premiere on Americana Highways Magazine
You can view the video directly on YouTube here: Blowin' In The Wind
Last year I made friends with KG Miles (via social media), who is the co- author of the bestselling book 'Bob Dylan in London, Troubadour Tales', talking about his very early years there. As the book is doing so well, his publishers asked him to do a New York version about Dylan's early days here. Miles reached out to me to write a chapter in the book, and at first I was hesitant as it was about a period of time before me, and I didn't feel qualified. I thought someone who was around the scene at that time would do better. Also, even tho I've been published many times as a photographer, this would be my first time being published as an author, and I gotta say... I got a little nervous. But with every life challenge comes a life lesson. Miles had a feeling I would be great for this chapter and didn't let up till I said yes. Bless him for his confidence in me, especially since we hadn't even met in person yet! He had a gut feeling, and so I went with his gut, did my research, and wrote my piece. Cherry Popping Time I guess! I also found out (after the fact) that my pal Maureen Van Zandt wrote a chapter about the West Village, and her husband Stevie Van Zandt has written a forward as well. It's a pretty small world sometimes.
Shortly after I submitted the chapter (which I'm happy to say, the author and publishers loved), Miles suggested I might consider recording one (or more) of the Dylan songs that I had been covering during my lockdown livestreams, to release around the same time as the book. I thought that to be a brilliant idea, and also a fun creative venture. Most all my livestreams (broadcasted from my tiny Hobbit sized music room) were performed with my buddy Mark Plati , who at the moment is all over the news with the new David Bowie box set that will be out soon. He was not only in Bowie's band back in the day, but he also co-wrote, co-produced, and mixed several of Bowie's albums. There was one project left unfinished, and during lockdown, Mark mixed and produced this project, that will be fully released by David's birthday in January as a celebration. Mark did a beautiful job with the Bowie project, and of course... I had him record and mix us as well! What was to be one song turned into 3, two Dylan, and one Lead Belly track, and the EP is called The Sunflower Sessions (title inspired by Van Gogh). I also called in Charlie Giordano to play accordion on the two Dylan songs and he did a gorgeous job. It was also a blast to finally record a project with Charlie as we've been friends forever. Some of you may know Giordano from playing Hammond B3 with Bruce Springsteen for the last 10 or so years, he's pretty amazing and his magic was just right for this project. Singer/songwriter, multi instrumentalist Noah Hoffeld played cello on 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night' and the whole haunting vibe of the tune inspired me to create a very film noir spooky video for this murder mystery song ( video release TBD as of now)
The EP will be released on December 1st and will be available on all streaming and downloadable platforms. Stop by my Bandcamp page and buy a copy for yourself or to gift for the holidays (all my albums are up on the page btw)
The video for 'Blowin' In The Wind' will have its premiere on Americana Highways magazine on 12/1. I'm pretty proud of the video as I shot all the footage, photographed, and edited it all myself, adding in work I had been shooting over the past few years at various marches and gatherings. I wanted to embrace the timeless words of Bob Dylan with my images, and portray a hint of hope for the future. It was a lot of work, but, also very rewarding to do.
It's all pretty exciting how one text message from Miles turned into all this! The book will be released in the UK on December 9th, and in the USA after the new year. I will also be doing my first live performance with Charlie and Mark at the 11th Street Bar on the 9th as well. If you're in NYC, please stop by and say hello! Perhaps this December, it's going to feel a lot like Christmas! Stay tuned, I will be posting updates here. Cheers!
ps: I happened to catch Bob Dylan at the Beacon Theater last week and the band sounded gorgeous, and Bob was powerful and passionate. The band, well, they are just top shelf, I can't say enough about the guys. Special props to my friends Charley Drayton and Tony Garnier who are one hell of a kick ass rhythm section. I mean, woah! If you get a chance, do catch Bob live, it's always a treat
ALSO, if you get a chance, and the Van Gogh immersive exhibition is in your town, treat yourself and go see it (and do the experience with the glasses.. it's off the hook cool). The show was beyond incredible. I've developed a passion for sunflowers, and a need to go back and dive into those paintings again. The whole immersive experience can be pretty addicting! But, then again, being addicted to Van Gogh... not so bad...
As many of you know, I DJ events on a regular basis. But on those weekends when I'm not booked w/my band, or duo, or to DJ a private event, I love hopping on a DJ gig at various spots here in NYC. Ethyl's Alcohol and Food is one of my favorite places in town, up on 2nd Avenue and 84th Street. All throwback vintage classics are spun each night of the week, and on the weekends GoGo Get Downs, it's a big ol house party, w/fabulous gogo dancers too. I DJ-ed there last night and it was a blast! Here's a little taste from my gig last night and two weeks ago. Thanks to the Gipsy Kings and Madonna for the fab tracks!
Many years ago, back when I was still a puppy, my friend Susan Dalton called me with some news. She was like a mentor to me back then, always showing me the ropes. She knew stuff. She told me this guy called Bruce Springsteen is holding auditions for a tour, and that I should most definitely audition. I hadn't heard of him, so she brought over her album, and we had a listen. I loved what I heard. I guess I should mention, I still have to return that album to her.
I believe the audition was an ad in the Village Voice, the paper you went to for just about everything back in the day. Be it a job, or an apartment, looking for a new band, or the love (or lust) of your life... the VV had a listing for just about everything you could imagine in the back pages. The NYC Bible. I rang the number and spoke to a man called Mike Appel. I said "I'm calling about the audition for Bruce Springsteen". He told me they had all the girls they needed. I remember feeling this wave of disappointment wash over me, and thought to myself... this is not how this day is gonna turn out. So I said to Mike, "well, you haven't heard me!!!" I don't know where this diva attitude came from, but I literally blurted that out of my mouth. I remember thinking, oh no, that was sooooo bad! I also didn't realize that I was talking to Springsteen's manager, I thought, he was just some assistant. My bad. But, to my surprise, this manager said to me, "well, you're a bit cocky, why don't you come up to the office, and let's hear what you can do" So I did. I sang with an acoustic guitar for Mr. Appel, and he informed me that I made the cut. I WAS 'IN'! A few days later I got the call with instructions where to go in New Jersey for my audition.
I begged my buddy Richard Lewis to get his parent's car and drive me out to Asbury Park for the audition with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I didn't have a car. I didn't have a license. I hadn't travelled beyond Queens, Manhattan and Bklyn. at that point of my life (with the exception of going to Canada with my parents every summer). Asbury Park might very well have been LA, that's how far away it felt. But, Richard came through with a car, and I still owe him big time. The night before the audition, I didn't sleep. I kept rehearsing the songs I was to do in my head. I remember, one of the songs was 'Baby It's You', and I was gonna do the version by Smith which was pretty rocking. I hadn't heard the original Shirelles version (which is awesome, but wasn't on my radar yet). There was this really high note that was at the breaking point of my range, and it terrified me. I wasn't at the level of musicianship where I could stylize things to my fitting just yet, and get around that note. It was an important note, or so I thought. I just wanted to duplicate what I heard on the record. I wanted to get the song perfect. I remember my boyfriend at the time saying to me, "stop wiggling round the bed, no matter how long or tall you make your body, it' ain't gonna make you hit that high note!" I figured, if I couldn't sleep, why should he! Oddly, Justin was a killer singer and HE could hit that damn note!
Richard and I headed outta Manhattan for our day trip adventure the next morning, me totally sleep deprived. We drove up to the Jersey store front where the auditions were held, and I took a deep breath. We entered the room, and the vibe inside was cozy, and welcoming. Everyone introduced themselves and made me feel at home. And Bruce, well, he has gotta be one of the nicest human beings I've ever met. No joke. That is who he is.
Bruce and I sang duets, I sang solo, all taped on an old reel to reel tape recorder in the corner of the room. I'd love to hear those tapes now, but then again, perhaps some things in life are better left to memories. As comfortable as the band made me feel, I was still a nervous wreck. This was my first professional audition. Bruce wasn't 'the boss' quite yet, but still I recognized something special. This guy, well, he was gonna travel large.
At one point after I sang a few songs for this audition, Bruce said, "take the band and do a song, anything you want. Jam". So I sang Bonnie Rait's 'Love Me Like A Man', but it was more of a rock vibe than her acoustic version. I did it in the key of E. Funny how I remember details like what key I sang a song in, and I still can't remember where I put my keys. But this was my moment, and, I had never sang a blues song with a band before, let alone 'jam'! Actually, I had never sang with a band before this day if memory serves me well. I was a solo gal (or occasional duo) with an acoustic guitar up until this point. But this amazing band was so incredible, I was inspired. After it all was over, Bruce told me that I should have my own band and do my thing, and that I should be a lead singer. The Boss gave me some really good advice that day, and I took it. I remember, after singing all these 'woah oh ooohs' like Ronnie Spector at the audition, I mentioned to him... you might wanna give Ronnie a call. If I wasn't gonna have this gig, who better to lose it to than Ronnie Spector! He didn't take my advice, but I do believe they joined forces years later!
While I never got really famous as a rockstar in this lifetime, doing my thing my way has brought me the greatest joy over the years. Getting to create and perform is a blessing, and I'm so not done... lots to do. I exhaust myself sometimes trying to keep up with myself. Art never sleeps.
Many years later, I went to see Bruce play on what I believe was his 60th birthday, and my buddy Jesse Malin took me backstage and told him that I had auditioned for him many years ago. Bruce gave me the biggest smile. He told me, he wondered what happened to the girls that had auditioned that day (I believe there were 4 of us that were chosen to go out to Asbury Park). I couldn't believe he even remembered the audition! He also told me that he met his wife that day. Anyway, he asked me "what did I tell you?" I mentioned he told me that I should form my own band. He then asked me, "so what did you do?" I replied "I have my own band, I'm doing my own thing" to which he replied "hug me". I remember feeling a little stunned, but in a good way. He lifted me up and spun me around in a bear hug. It was delightful, and I wish I had a photo of that moment in time. But instead it's a forever memory. Just like those reel to reel tapes. Bruce gave me a lovely present on his birthday, positive energy, & joy. He's one hell of a guy. Happy Birthday Bruce!
Here's a few photographs I took at his birthday show, and at a party at Sardi's after opening night of The Rascals show 'Once Upon A Dream' on Broadway. Last photo w/ Stevie Van Zandt and Eddie Brigati.
I spent the day at the beach on Sunday, and the holidays are as far from my mind as can be. But then I realized, it's only a couple of months till December! Hard to think about the holidays when I'm hanging on to summer for dear life!!!
But, with that said, I've just begun booking December holiday events, so please be sure to get in touch right here at www.djdinaregine.com and reserve your date. I promise you will have the best holiday event ever!!!
In the meantime, I'm hoping for one more beach day!!! Just one!!! 🏖
Below are a couple of snaps of me spinning a super-fun holiday party for Google in Tribeca a few years back
#fbf I've been clearing out a few things round the apartment, going down memory lane, and I found this little press clip that I'm in from a column called 'Cultural Sushi' in PAPER MAGAZINE. The photo of me in this collage was taken when I was still spinning vinyl with a head full of curls at Webster Hall on Psychedelic Thursdays (I was there for many years). I hadn't noticed how many buddies of mine were in this article till now! Go figure!
w/ Jesse Malin, Bebe Buell Howie Pyro, Debbie Harry Michael Schmidt, my ol buddy since I was a puppy, the late Don Hill. Also, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Mangold, Cynthia Rowley and hubby, Director James Mangold and Danny Aiello, Ralph Pucci, Veruschka, and others
This happened last Tuesday in Hollywood! Sam Milgrom, owner of the Mr Musichead photo gallery, hosted a book signing for C.M. Kushings latest release 'Beast', about the life of drummer John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. I have two photos in the book that I took back when I was a teenager strapping a Nikon F camera round my neck everywhere I went (when I should have been at my bestie's house doing homework!!!). I wish I could have been at this sold out event, but friends of mine stopped by and sent these photos. Have a look, and do check out the book, it's available in bookstores everywhere as well as Amazon and other online sellers. Both of my photos are available for purchase at the gallery, signed and framed 13x19 prints of John Bonham and Jimmy Page.
Straight from the decks of various Manhattan clubs back in the late 80s-90s, recorded live to cassette, these are a few fun grooves of just about everything from Funk to New Wave, Rock, Motown, Soul and RnB. I've always been an 'open format DJ'... all over the map, and sometimes, in several languages! Keeps things interesting.
I recently found a suitcase filled with cassette tapes with live mixes on them, and figured I'd better upload them to a digital format before the cassettes totally disintegrated! A lot of memories were in that suitcase, that was also filled with thank you notes from customers over the years, written on napkins, paper plates, scrap paper and just about anything that had clear space to write on. It's an amazing thing in life, that a DJ can somehow just know what to play on a particular night, and somehow lift the weight of the world off of someone's shoulders, and free them to have a good time. Truly, being a DJ can be one of the most rewarding gigs in the world just for that reason alone. It's downright magical!
The photograph above was taken downtown NYC at Heartbreak. The celebrity studded Monday nights were off the hook fun, and it never felt like a job. Well... almost never. I had a mad crush on Micky Rourke, and he came most every week to hang, and always dropped by the DJ booth to say hello. He truly was a modern day James Dean at the time. Sigh! On any given Monday night, you might see Cher, or Tom Cruise, or Bruce Willis hanging out in the DJ booth with me. Players from the Mets, NY Giants and Rangers were all regulars, and Grace Jones occasionally stirred up a storm. Paul Stanley from KISS was always cutting a rug on Mondays, and just about every top model at the time could be seen striking a pose. Curator/promoter Frankie really pulled together a real eclectic night at Heartbreak 💔
Anyway, if you feel like bopping round your apartment this weekend, and need a few fun soundtracks, here are two links, one on Soundcloud and the other on YouTube. Have a listen to a snippet of a few nights from days gone by. I will be uploading new mixes as I find the time to get to it...
Enter the wayback machine here:
VINTAGE VINYL DJ MIXES on Soundcloud
DJ Dina Regine Vintage Vinyl Mixes- YouTube