Legendary Blues singer/guitar player/songwriter, MONICA DUPONT is back after a 25 year absence from music, at the age of 61, with a CD of diverse and thoroughly modern Blues called LIFE GOES ON.
Her exceptional, original songs showcase her powerful,unique vocal style and the production and musicianship by Gary Novak is brilliant.
SHORT ADDITION after the fact
Monica’s first Television appearance was on KQED San Francisco, at the age of 8. At the age of 13, she won a local talent contest and appeared on Lucille Lando’s Teen Time, on KSAY radio, where she performed and was interviewed. When she was 14, she recorded her first record titled Oh and recorded periodically throughout her teens for Robert N. Lane Jr. plus appearing on Bill Gordon’s Luau and then on AM San Francisco-both on ABC TV Channel 7.
Then she started a full blown career ~ here’s some of the story…….
From the day, at age 17, when she walked into the personnel office of I. Magnin’s, (to get a part time job) and was discovered by a scout from New York advertising giant, McCann Erickson who signed her to do Buick ads, which appeared in all top national magazines, (Please look in her pictures for 1966 Buick Riviera magazine ad) Monica Dupont, has had an extraordinary career. Her Blues years alone, found her leading bands including, Bobby Forte’, Johnny Heartsman, Luther Tucker, Mel Brown, Tom McFarland, Troyce Key, JJ Malone, Johnny Nitro, California Slim, Johnny Seven and many others. The infamous Stench Brothers were her rhythm section for several years and then,Artie Wafer and Greg Williams. Her main drummer was Ron Wilson, of The Surfaris, who was famous for the world famous drum solo on Wipeout. He was replaced by prolific Larry Vann. Monica’s first drummer was brilliant percussionist, Kenneth Nash. Her regular fill in bass players were, Rocco Prestia, from,Tower of Power, Starchild, from Confunkshun and Willie Riser. Tim Kaihatsu, guitar and Jerry Olsen, drums (Charlie Musselwhite’s band) played for her when Musselwhite wasn’t working. She opened for Jimmy Witherspoon in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Palace Hotel on New Year’s Eve 1977 as vocalist, frontman and guitar player for the California Slim Band.
THE FILLMORE DAYS 1968-1971
She met Bill Graham through his close friend, Diane and when he realized he could speak German to her and that she was very friendly and a musician not a groupie, he made her a lifetime free pass to the Fillmore Auditorium on a piece of a brown grocery store bag. He wrote in big letters with a green crayon, LET HER IN ! and she helped by showing out of town bands around. She sort of became an unofficial hostess and got to meet and become friends with people like, Howlin Wolf and his whole band, which included Hubert Sumlin and Otis Fiske, Buddy Guy and his band too, which included close friends, A.C. Reed plus Jack Myers. Buddy Guy once paid her guitar payment and grateful, she lent him her Martin D-28, so that he could play an acoustic set at the Fillmore Auditorium. Then Albert King, James Cotton, Booker T and the MGs (she became instant friends with Duck Dunn) all of the Paul Butterfield band members -the list is amazing and endless, it stretches from J.B Hutto to Tim Buckley. She briefly stayed at Carlos Santana’s house when he had just started The Santana Blues Band and jammed with him and with all the others regularly. Her best friend, at the time dated Elvin Bishop and she spent many evenings as the third wheel, taking taxis between the Fillmore and The Avalon Ballroom with them.
She even went to Hollywood as a guest of the Electric Flag when they recorded A Long Time Comin and stayed with Peter Tork of The Monkees. While there she got to hang out with music royalty like Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison and David Crosby. At the time she dated Taj Mahal. Again, she was a musician, not a groupie and had very few romantic relationships. A few years later she became the girlfriend of Buddy Miles (who she’d known since the Electric Flag days) during the time when he was in the Jimi Hendrix band and she got to spend time with Jimi. Jimi gave her a plastic pass on a gold chain as a present. Her manager then was Ron Polte who she was referred to by James Cotton’s manager Gordon Kinnearly. Ron Polte’s company was named Westpol.They also managed The Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Sons of Champlin and The Charlatans. It also included, Julius Karpen who managed Janis Joplin. Nick Gravenites, another old friend from the Electric Flag days was part of the Westpol agency and wanted to produce her. He had just produced One Toke Over the Line by Brewer and Shipley, but timing was wrong for both of them, she had other projects and he had a deadline. Bugsy Maugh of the Butterfield band and Bill Graham called her Sunshine, Mike Bloomfield called her Brigitte Bardot Jr. - and best of all Eric Clapton called her The Big German.
Nobody could have been better connected than Monica and this list is only partial. She knew Al Bell, she knew Norman Winters, she knew anybody and everybody that she needed to know to have a career, but nobody could figure out HOW to package and produce Monica, who is distinctive and stands out as being an instantly recognizable singer. She does not at all look like she sounds. Others who tried, included Michael Dilbeck of Columbia Records and Johnny Otis who would invite her to his recording sessions for Shugi (studio A at Columbia) and tell her that he wanted to record Linda Lu with her. An old friend from Warner Brothers tried to turn her into a female John Cougar Mellencamp . Tom Donohue asked her to record It’s a Man’s World and bill herself as The female James Brown, The Captain, Daryl Dragon(before Tennille) told her that she should to do songs like Hard Hearted Hanna, while he backed her up, lying on a piano at The Troubador in LA and call herself, The new Mae West.
She was also managed by Bumps Blackwell,who managed Little Richard and started a project with his brother, Otis Blackwell who wrote classics, Don’t Be Cruel, Great Balls of Fire and a lot more top Rock & Roll hits. Pete Welding nabbed her for Playboy Records to pair with Philip Walker.
Her favorite moments? All of them ! BUT jamming for 4 hours with JB Hutto, having Howlin Wolf take care of her when she was sick and then Phillip Wilson, Butterfield’s drummer rushing her to a hospital and carrying her up the steps, when she had pneumonia, having Charles Wright ask her to re-record Loveland” for him, (Monica on vocal) and hanging out with Hubert Sumlin certainly stand out in her memories, along with her very close friendships with late Mayor George Moscone, Joe Williams, Leonard Feather, Tina Mayfield (Percy’s widow) and her last manager Jimmy Tolbert, Lester Young’s nephew who paired her with people like Sweets Edison and Eddie Beal.
YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?
Her first recording career began in 1961 and continued until 1982. For years she recorded only songs provided by producers who gave her only currently popular Folk Songs and RockNRoll songs, trying desperately to match her voice to her looks. They repeatedly tried to make her sing soprano, too high for her baritone voice, but she strained and would do it. She recorded songs like Peanut Butter, Monday, Monday, 500 Miles, Pleasant Street, Blowing in the Wind, Once I Was, The House of The Rising Sun and dozens of forgettable current hits and standards, all cover tunes. Nobody would allow her do her original material, in the correct key for her real voice and she was miserable. Then, when she married Bard Dupont in 1971 (formerly the bass player for The Great Society, Grace Slick’s first band) she continued to record and started her performing career with him at famous San Francisco club, The Coffee Gallery. They first formed a duo called Mr. and Mrs.Dupont and then later, a band with young Johnny Nitro on guitar, Larry Graber on Saxophone and-Al Brown from out of town - on drums.
In 1975 she decided she’d had enough of the senseless recording and went out on her own to record some memorable Blues singles, including her 1975 original recording of, Too Much Alcohol, (dedicated to her old friend JB Hutto) and then, The Blues In The Night, Meet me at the Deluxe Inn, The Lord is Recalling Sinners, When I Woke up I was Over You and her all time classic single, Try To Find Another Man, all with the infamous Stench Brothers and saxophone great Bobby Forte' and Blues Hall of Famer, Warren Cushenberry. She also recorded several other Blues 45s. Her aptly named last recording was Checkin’ Out, in 1982, with the Seabury brothers, members of the band, Psycotic Pineapple. She’s to be found on several Blues compilation records, such as JSPs 1984 LP, Going to California, along with Roy Brown, Don and Dewey, Model T Slim, Cleo Paige and Sugarcane Harris.
She then retreated to only playing Blues clubs and while on the thriving Oakland/San Francisco Blues scene,( from 1975-1983 ) she was a top act. She consistently played all the of Blues clubs and smoky after hours juke joints and then the top venues in the area. Monica, is especially proud of the fact that she got the chance to play twice at the world famous original , Hungry i while it was still in San Francisco’s North Beach and being touted regularly by BAM Magazine-they picked her band as the only Blues band to join top rockers to play at the historical, 1977 Rock Against Racism concert. Her band at the time consisted of her husband Bard on bass- notorious Fast Floyd from Mink Deville on guitar- Roger Thompson on drums and MASTER of the chromatic harmonica Red Archibald (then known as Marin Red) who sadly passed away days before he was to record on her new CD, Life Goes On.
THE MEL BROWN BAND
In 1980, Monica and Bard divorced, when she left to form a band with the great Mel Brown and also to start her own group which would include greats like Johnny Heartsman, Luther Tucker, Bobby Forte', Tom McFarland, Luther Tucker, Troyce Key, etc. She was playing 4 to 6 nights a week in those days, because besides being a member of both bands, she was the guitarist for many top Blues musicians. She was known also for her excellent original material, performed by many local bands, like Lamb and Janis Joplin. Almost every group in the area in need of fresh material would go and see Monica .
BYE BYE BLUES
In 1982, she naively signed away the rights to all her songs and soon she quit playing music entirely, when she suffered a major stroke at the height of her career, in January of 1983. Her good friend Troyce Key (the owner of Eli’s Mile High Club) refused to let her stop playing. He really believed in Monica and helped her through almost 8 months of grueling physical therapy to help her prepare for what was her last performance, the 1983 San Francisco Blues Festival, featuring Blues royalty, Willie Dixon, Albert King, Ron Thompson, Irma and Rufus Thomas, Duke Robillard, Joe Liggins, Clifton Chenier and many more. She wasn’t able to play her trademark guitar JB (named after close friend JB Hutto) due to the severe damage the stroke had done to her hands, but she managed to sing 2 songs. It was a great way to retire ! she is quoted as saying.
HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD
Monica, then moved to Hollywood and went on to be a seasoned Television writer and show host. She wrote screenplays, sitcoms, a miniseries about Ann Boleyn, 2 Milo King mysteries, a novel, Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, a book, Don’t let that Whiskey Drink your Dog and then Windows, a book of art and Beat poetry, which sold exclusively at prestigious places like, The L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art and San Francisco’s City Lights book store. She can also be seen as the blond, doing small walk-on parts in about a dozen major motion pictures,like Naked Gun, Tequila Sunrise, Wired, Sunset Beat, LA Stories, Wedlock and appearances on prime time TV .
THE MUSIC IS BACK
In October of 1998, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area, to peacefully live with her memories and her cat, BUT This was not to be, as in 2004, some of her early recordings were reissued on a CD called Early Eighties (HoddymanRecords). Monica started getting great reviews,massive worldwide airplay and fan letters and gifts in the mail. Encouraged by all of this she called old friends that she hadn’t seen or spoken to in 25 - 30 years and asked them if they would record a new album with her and every one of them agreed happily. All the talented players on her new CD, added music out of love and respect for Monica and reviewers agree that they all played their best.The result is a beautiful and inspired musical gathering !
Her current CD, LIFE GOES ON
Monica wrote 7 of the 10 songs on the Life Goes On CD. Each song was chosen to specifically showcase the diversity of her music and of Blues music in general. They’re each very different, but they all share the Blues root. Peel away layers of each tune (except for The Man from New Orleans- stripped down to 2 guitars playing classic Delta Blues LIVE) the rest are Blues with lively embellishment and a fresh original approach.This is a most enjoyable and exciting Blues CD ! Life Goes On is being critically acclaimed as Monica Dupont’s finest work to date and we sure hope it gets your feet tapping and puts a big smile on your face !
She was inducted into The National Heritage Foundation Blues Hall of Fame four times and is their Ambassador to Northern California. She has had the pleasure of inducting legendary Blues musicians and inducted impresario Bill Graham for bringing Blues players to San Francisco in the 1960's.