Dan Clews and Phoebe Katis are performing The James Taylor Story and The Carole King Story respectively, at this years Fringe. Despite gruelling schedules, they managed to squeeze in a coffee and a chat with Glam.
Clews and Katis bubble over with enthusiasm for their shared projects, both of which are produced by Clews’ company Night Owl Shows.
Night Owl has about eleven shows currently touring including Voices of Bond and The Nashville Show. They are all tribute or theme shows, in the format Clews has developed which he likes to call “show-umentary”.
So why Carole King?
“Inspirationally, Carole is up there with my top three artists, from a songwriter and performance point-of-view. I also learnt piano when I was very young and Carole did a lot of her writing on piano. She was primarily a writer working with lyricists, but she did write some of her own lyrics as well. A lot of her musicality, her chord sequences, and that crossover between jazz and soul and pop was hugely inspirational to me. I still draw from her now, trying to figure out how she makes a certain lyric work in a certain way.
So, when Dan approached me to do the show it was a very easy role to step into. It felt really natural.”
And why James Taylor?
“I’m a singer-songwriter, and I’ve been writing for years. I even have a publishing deal with George Martin. But every time I play a show, someone comes up to me and says “You sound like James Taylor.” It would happen pretty much every time. And each time it came as a massive compliment, because he’s a big hero.”! It is an uncanny resemblance that I haven’t forced. Every now and again I hear a James Taylor song I don’t know and I’ll think “I don’t remember writing this song”!”
The shows have been incredibly popular across the UK, garnering effusive praise from punters and critics alike. Even our own Tim Minchin describes Clews as “a beautiful player”.
“I think there’s not a lot out there for people who grew up listening to this music”, says Katis. “It’s nice to have a chance to hear it live, rather than hear it on a recording.”
Many people are surprised by how many songs Carole King wrote.
“That’s one of my favourite parts of the show I think is to say ‘remember this song…well Carole wrote this’. And people don’t realise. Songs like Locomotion!”
They are both quick to point out that they are interpreters and not impersonators.
Says Katis, “We’re not trying to be them, we’re just trying to perform their songs.”
Clews agrees. “Every time you sing a song it’s like you’re creating a new piece of art. Those original renditions of the songs came from the heart. And the best way you can do them justice is to sing them from the heart.”
As well as channelling Carole King, Phoebe has a debut album coming out in April called Honesty, which she says is very influenced by King.
Dan already has three albums out world-wide and is working on a fourth, whilst juggling all the Night Owl shows.
Make the most of the chance to see these two talented, energetic powerhouses, whilst they are still here!
Interview by Tracey Korsten
Both shows are playing at The Garage International at Adelaide Town Hall, James Taylor until 16th March and Carole King until 19th March.
Each show is 50 minutes in duration, and tickets range from $25 to $35