If you try and wikipedia the band Blue Feather you get a very minimal sheet of info written in either English or French. Though the band is from the Netherlands, the Dutch themselves seem to have forgotten one of their finest funk outfits. Hardly anything is written on the band that brought you their – self acclaimed – Feather Funk. It was not to easy finding someone who could tell me more about the band. After some research I finally contacted Dirk Nusink who played the latin percussion, sang and played the harmonica for Blue Feather. He also told me the sad news that Ed Brouwer (lead guitar/vocals) and Rob Hoelen (Bass/Vocals) passed away way too young, may their souls rest in peace.
When Blue Feather started exactly is unclear. Brothers Ed and Ron Brouwer started the band with some other folks. They were inspired by bands like the Eagles, Little River Band, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason and acts similar to those. They chose the name Blue Feather due to a fascination for Native American culture. After Lex Nusink joined forces to play the drums, brother Dirk Nusink talked the band into letting him do the percussion. By then Jan WIllem Weeda (keyboards/vocals) and bass player Rob Hoelen were already part of the band. Brothers Lex and Dirk had a background in Jazz/Rock/Latin oriented music and introduced the “Feather Funk” style, Dirk vaguely remembers coming up with the idea: “Funk with a feather touch”. At this time the band was still just a local buzz. As soon as they defined their style Ed and Ron’s father “Meep” Brouwer started managing the band which led to several gigs. Gaining live experience had very positive effects in the studio. After showing off their live skills in front of producers Cor Aaftink and Roy Beltman, father Brouwer had managed to fix a record deal with Corduroy Productions.
Their first 45 It’s Love was a modest hit and even charted for a while, due to airplay by popular Dj’s like Frits Spits, Felix Meurders and Mart van de Stadt. Soon came the first 12 inch Let’s Funk Tonight (first press around 5000 copies), which initially sort of flopped. It wasn’t until the Canadian Siamese label released a 12 inch remix by Peter Frost that the single started gaining more attention from the Dutch record industry. It created a snowball effect that led to a lot of releases, a variety of 12 inch mixes pressed in Italy, France, Spain, UK, Japan and so on. The band eventually got noticed by a British management, who got them a whole lot of gigs. They crossed the UK playing venues like for example the Venue London and Hammersmith Odeon, Let’s Funk Tonight even topped the British Dance Charts for a while. The band also attended several television shows abroad. In Wroclav, Poland, they performed for the Polish State television and in France they played a show alongside Illusion where they received a Disque D’or for their record sales. In Tenerife they ended up accompanying Black Slate at a bullfighting arena. Under the pressure of their hit, Phonogram decided an album had to be released quickly. It was pretty much a compilation of the previously released singles with some new tracks. It was put out on Mercury in 1982 and also found some pressings abroad.
One of Dirk’s personal favorites is the 1983 release Let It Out (pressed both on 7 and 12 inch). The band had repeatedly asked producer Roy Beltman for British musicians to join in for a production. Finally a few British session musicians flew in to be responsible for the horn section of Let it Out, the same guys that played with – to name but a few – the likes of Spandau Ballet, Shakatak and Light Of The World. You can by the way hear by now that lead guitarist Ed Brouwer was really inspired by George Benson at the time, adopting the style of singing/humming along guitar licks. Another aspect that defines the character of this track is the use of classic synths like the LinnDrum and the Roland Jupiter 8.
Because of financial and creative disagreements, the band had some arguments. Only four members remained (the brothers Brouwer, J.W. Weeda and Dirk Nusink). They got an offer from their agency, Jan Vis, to record a second album in his studio. Ron and Ed decided to produce the second record, Shadows Of Night, themselves. This resulted in a different sound compared to the first record, which was recorded at the infamous Wisseloord studios. Shadows Of Night was no big hit at it’s time, though some remixes were made by for example Rutger “Rutti” Kroese. Nevertheless the album found a 2007 reissue on PTG Records and is now considered to be an underrated boogie record.
Dirk introduced a new drummer and bass player and the band did some gigs in the Uk. They also did some live radio performances, most notably on the legendary Ferry Maat Soulshow. The intentions were there but the band eventually found themselves in a dead end street and fell apart around 1990. Some stuck to music for a while, some didn’t, anyway they went separate ways.
Dirk still makes – in his own words – 70’s synth/Tangerine Dream inspired music under the moniker of Tranzit. Very cool, check out his soundcloud below and tell your friends.