11 Questions With...Mama Cutsworth

>> Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mama Cutsworth is one of Winnipeg’s finest and most beloved DJs. A lover of all music genres, Cutsworth’s playful record-spinning sets draw from old school funk, soul, hip hop, reggae, and, yes, even the folk-comedy stylings of The Flight of the Conchords. The winner of 2006’s epic DJ battle Clash of the Titans, she’s been working crowds around these parts into a jubilant frenzy for years. Tomorrow she gets to show off her party starting skills at the Pyramid as the opening act for scintillating English chanteuse Alice Russell, part of this year’s impossibly great Jazz Fest lineup.

I had the privilege to ask Mama Cutsworth 11 questions, and her eloquent answers are definitely amongst the best I have ever received. Thanks to her for doing this!

1. Where is the best venue to catch a show in our fair town?

That really depends on the kind of show we're talking about. The Lo Pub is
the coziest Cheers-style spot these days, but the sight-lines can be
awfully tricky to actually SEE the show. That being said, I've caught so
many amazing and intimate performances there [The Acorn, Lebeato, Jenn
Grant, Dan Mangan...]; Jack Jonasson knows how to book acts. The
contagious Tex-Mex awesomeness of the Times Change(d) comes in at second.

2. Who is your favourite Winnipeg-based band/musician?

Winnipeg is blessed with a rich depth and breadth of music-makers. It's
insanely hard to pin it down to just one favourite. But when it comes to
pure songwriting and a voice that I never get tired of, I would pick the
very underrated musician Chris Neufeld. "Colorado Low" is a beautiful,
beautiful album that I've played on repeat numerous times. And his new
project the Other Brothers [with Winkler's Donovan Giesbrecht] is
something folks should check out too!

3. What’s the worst bus route in the city?

I don't know about the worst, but the route that fascinates me the most is
the number 16. I think it is one of the longest routes in the city,
covering Island Lakes/St. Vital to the far reaches of the north end. I
used ride it for 2 hours every day, passing through Osborne, downtown, up
Main, down Selkirk Avenue, all the way to the very end at Burrows. Since
that bus ventures into so many neighbourhoods, the variety of people
stepping on and off that bus cut a real nice cross-section of our

4. What are your top three, all-time desert-island records?

Oh geez. I'm not one to develop all-time hands-down favourites, but I'll
give it a go in the context of what I'd want to hear all alone, needing a
little comfort since I'm trapped on an island. Josh Rouse's "Subtítulo"
[2006], the Ramsey Lewis Trio's "The Groover" [1966], and Wilco's "Yankee
Hotel Foxtrot" [2001]. I love a heck of a lot more music, but I thought of
those first, so that's what we're going with.

5. Of the albums you own, which has the best cover art?

Nice question. As a record collector, I really appreciate cover art in a
large-format setting. But one of my favourite covers, when it comes to
creativity, I don't own on vinyl. I know, weird. "Opus Daily," a disc from
Marc Hype and Jim Dunloop features a cover that my pal Mike the 2600 King
designed. It's a photo of paper cut out to look like a particular font,
pinned to a wall with thumbtacks. It's a nice twist on taking something
that could have been designed digitally and throwing in a real handmade

6. What was the last great concert you saw?

That would be the Danny Michel show at the new West End, with my dear
friend Jo Snyder [Sixty Stories/Anthem Red] opening for him. Both of their
sets made me overjoyed. Danny's been a favourite live performer of mine
for a while now - his songs are good, but when he's there in the flesh
it's magic. Jo, who grew up in the same town as Danny but had never met
him before, joined him for a cover of Tom Waits' "Time" and the night was
complete. Walking out of a show with a light heart, wiping a tear off your
cheek is pretty much the best.

7. Would you rather have invisibility or flight?

Well if you're telling me that stopping time is out of the question, then
I'd go with flight, mostly because I can only think of criminal
applications for invisibility and that's just not cool. Flight, yes
flight, would be the way to go.

8. Simpsons, South Park, or Family Guy?

I think of The Simpsons sort of as the "comfort food" option of those
three, having seen pretty much all of them. But for some reason, I
rediscovered South Park in the last year and it's level of accurate and
timely commentary - on pretty much anything that happens - has me really
impressed. It's currently number one. Family Guy will always be third.

9. What's one Flight of the Conchords song you can't live without?

Oh heck, that's fightin' dirty; I think of those guys like my personal
soundtrack makers. "Business Time" will always be my introduction to Brett
and Jemaine. I remember playing that song from a dubbed taping off TV on
my CKUW show, Stylus Radio, so many years ago now. And although that
song's never lost it's charm, these days I'd have to go with "Ladies of
the World." I've been known to sneak that into the odd slow-jam set when
I'm DJing. And when it comes to music promoting work peace, what better
lyrics are there than "Redheads not warheads/ Blondes not bombs/ We're
talkin' about brunettes not fighter jets/ It's got to be Sweet 16's not
M-16's/ When will the governments realize it's got to be funky sexy

10. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I'm a habitual multi-reader. I find that I have to switch to the book that
fits my mood or time of day type of thing. I'm in the middle of Michael
Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Gil Adamson's novel "The Outlander,"
and the thickest kids' book you've ever seen, called "The Thirteen and a
Half Lives of Captain Bluebear" by Walter Moers. I'm also looking for
second-hand copies of Book The Ninth and Book the Eleventh of the Series
of Unfortunate Events, if anyone cares.

11. And finally…who’s your favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
(Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, or Raphael?

You know I used to know all the lyrics to that theme song... Being the
typical control-freak oldest child, I always had a penchant for the
leader, Leonardo.


Mykael's note: While "11 Questions With..." normally appears on Tuesdays, I decided to post this tonight since Mama Cutsworth opens for Alice Russell tomorrow night in what's sure to be a fantastic show at the Pyramid. Hopefully you can make it out.

Infinite Playlist: Kings Of Convenience - Quiet Is The New Loud


Anonymous,  29 June 2009 at 10:49  

Very thoughtful answers. Makes me wanna track down Chris Neufeld...

Unknown 29 June 2009 at 19:57  

I dig her answers. Glad she took the time to elaborate. A lot of the answers so far by others have been one-liners.

Also, thanks for introducing me to her music! I'm on her myspace page right now and I'm groovin' in my chair.

Anonymous,  2 July 2009 at 08:36  


rawbean 29 August 2009 at 11:30  

Good call on the Chris Neufeld Album.

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