Dave in the Press…


MARQUETTE -Kirsten Gustafson and Dave Ziegner have been professional musicians for years but neither is blase about what they’re doing.

The veteran musicians are thrilled about the CD they’ve recorded together.

“So Many Stars” is the CD featuring vocalist Gustafson and guitarist Ziegner.

“The title cut is a Sergio Mendez song and it’s one of our favorites,” Ziegner said. “The CD is mostly Brazilian-flavored bossa nova style songs. But there are also some American standards we Brazilized. I know that’s not a word, but that’s what we did.

“There are three or four bluesy, jazzy tunes, but most of it leans toward Brazilian-style songs.”

For Gustafson – a native of Newberry whose father, Roy, and brother, Karl, still live there – the path to becoming a jazz artist was a bit of a winding one.

“My mother (Reta) told me I liked to sing along with the commercials on our black-and-white TV,” Gustafson said. “It’s interesting, because I have sung jingles as a professional.

“She taught me a little about singing when I was 5 or so. She had studied singing for several summers at Interlochen.”

Gustafson’s mother had her perform songs like “Inchworm” and “Mother” (M is for the many…) for events like Eastern Star meetings.

“I remember singing ‘What Child is This’ at 6 in church, but I hardly remember,” Gustafson said.

Gustafson played the French horn in school band and sang in choirs as a teen.

“I learned a lot from the people around me,” she said. “I tried to pick up what I could.”

Her first professional gig came in 1978 as part of The Wayfarers with Bill Van Effen in Munising.

“We did everything, rock, polkas, country, even disco,” she said.

After living in Georgia in the early 1980s, Gustafson returned to Michigan and starting singing jazz standards with saxophonist Cab Whitmore.

“I discovered jazz and I really, really liked it,” she said.

From there, Gustafson went to Denver, then to Chicago, where she was well received. She was signed by Atlantic Records in 1991 and did a recording.

“Sammy Kahn wrote the liner notes,” she said. “His ‘You Taught My Heart to Sing’ was the title song.”

Gustafson even sang at the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Eventually, she returned to her home territory of the Upper Peninsula in 2004 and met up with an old friend in Dave Ziegner.

Ziegner, who grew up in Chicago and Detroit, came to Marquette as a young adult, then moved to San Francisco for most of the 1980s. A music instructor, Ziegner plays a variety of instruments and is part of a number of groups including Conga Se Menne, Dave & Derrell and Slave to Gravity.

He and Gustafson met in the early 1990s, when she was living in Chicago.

“We played together sporadically back then,” Ziegner said. “We would bring her up from Chicago to play at the Ramada… and she would pack the place.”

Once Gustafson moved back to the Upper Peninsula, she and Ziegner started performing as a duo more frequently.

“We’ve been together, steadyish, for about five years,” Ziegner said.

Gustafson has enjoyed the pairing.

“He’s so fun to work with,” she said. “He’s so positive. Dave puts 110 percent of himself into everything he plays. He plays his heart out.”

“So Many Stars” includes 13 songs and was recorded in just two days at North Star Studios, which is owned by Jerry Kippola.

“It took two days to record the tracks and a lot longer for the cover and the business stuff,” Ziegner said. “Kirsten’s parts on the CD are almost all first takes. She’s incredible.”

Guest artists on the CD are Alex Brooks on drums and Aaron Kippola on the Brazilian percussion.

“As you can imagine, it feels good to have the CD finally available for sale,” he said. “I am glad it’s there.

“Next, we are hoping to do a CD of originals,” Ziegner said. “I have been going through the songs I’ve written. Kirsten is working on lyrics and some melody. The first time I played her some of the songs, she started singing along right away, without having heard them, and she was phenomenal.”

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500 ext. 253. Her e-mail address is

Renee Prusi – The Mining Journal (Sep 11, 2010)


Kirsten Gustafson & Dave Ziegner: So Many Stars

Wow! I’ve been hearing of this pending release for awhile now, and
now that it’s out, I can’t get enough of it. Kirsten and Dave have
been entertaining audiences as a duo now for quite some time, and
they’re a magical pair. What I love most about this disc is it’s
seductive simplicity—it’s nearly all guitar and vocal (oddly, the best
bassist around doesn’t play bass on this recording!). Recorded in
sublime fashion by Jerry Kippola at North Star Studio in Marquette,
there only a sprinkle of nice percussion via Aaron Kippola and Alex
Brooks to compliment the duo’s take on timeless jazz and latin
classics. The package is wrapped up in cool retro artwork and graphic
design by Chad McKinney.

Let’s talk a bit about our two focal points: voice and guitar.
Kirsten sounds at the top of her game here—her gorgeous phrasings
sound effortless, whether she’s tackling the bitter sounding Esquinas
(So You Say), or the playful Bye Bye Blackbird. There’s a great
longing to her voice in many of the tracks. Dave sounds equally
effortless in his intricate guitar backing and soloing, adding the
perfect chord palette to Kirsten’s voice. Dave also shines in several
solos on the disc—some of my favorites are when he takes a solo with
no net of backing tracks under, now that takes some finesse to excel

It’s worth noting that though Kirsten and Dave can be seen often at
intimate local gigs, they’ve both had their share of playing to
appreciative audiences far and wide. We’re lucky to have such fine
talent in the UP. Please check out this duo in a live setting
sometime soon, and by all means pick up this excellent cd at Jim’s

Jeff Krebs – Jim’s Music (Oct 15, 2010)