Vancouver Sun Feature
The born-and-raised Vancouverite is a whiz on the guitar -- be it acoustic, electric, pedal steel, or slide. He can sing strongly and he writes a mean melody. He is a powerhouse of efficiency, using his recent time in the recording studio to record not one, but two very different albums. And he still manages to tour, play on other people's albums, and be a dad to his toddler of a daughter.
But try as he might to relax -- as he did on a recent trip to the land of pineapples and alohas -- the man cannot get music out of his mind. It was on that trip to Hawaii that Dawson came up with the idea for his next big project -- one that has garnered interest from some of the biggest names in the world of roots, blues and folk music.
Dawson only just released his latest solo CD, Waiting for the Lights to Come Up, earlier this week and he's releasing another solo album in the fall. But for a master juggler like him, one can never have too many projects on the go.
The new project is a tribute album to the Mississippi Sheiks, a guitar and fiddle group that appealed to both black and white audiences of the 1930s.
"I did a couple of their tunes on my last record and I've just always been fascinated by them," Dawson said over the phone from his East Vancouver home.
"They were one of the biggest selling artists of the 1930s, but they're pretty much unknown now. They wrote a lot of great songs and they appealed to the white folks because they had fiddles and stuff like that. That's why they sold so many records."
So far, Kelly Joe Phelps and Geoff Muldaur are on board. Bill Frisell is in. There's another big name who's also confirmed (but can't yet be announced). And Dawson said several other notable artists are considering the project.
"It's shaping up to be really interesting," he said in what could be considered by many to be the understatement of the year.
First though, he has to tend to the business of promoting his current album, which is a well-balanced rootsy mix of his own songs, other people's songs (including Bob Dylan), instrumental and vocal tracks.
Dawson sings and plays up to five instruments on some tracks. He recorded the album -- plus songs for his upcoming instrumental album, Telescope -- over five days at a Vancouver studio. And he then mixed and fiddled with the songs at his home studio, which allowed him to be close to his daughter.
The 35-year-old says fatherhood hasn't forced him to slow down -- which is quite obvious from his output of work -- but he does say he now thinks twice before agreeing to go on the road.
Luckily he doesn't have to travel far to perform to his Vancouver admirers. Dawson is playing a CD launch party this Friday, 8 p.m., at St. James Hall.