Canadian Music Network
The talented Vancouver duo of Jesse Zubot and Steve Dawson has twice been nominated for a Juno Award in the Best Roots/Traditional album category and won that title at last year's West Coast Music Awards and Canadian Indie Music Awards. The acoustic instrumental group formed in 1998 and likes to call what it produces STRANG music - which incorporates folk, jazz, bluegrass, blues, celtic, rock and and world music influences. Zubot plays fiddle and mandolin while Dawson plays Dobro, Hawaiian and normal guitar, and they are both finely tuned musical craftsmen. The album begins with Ed's Wake, which is perhaps the edgiest song of the 13 on the CD. There's a definite celtic-country crossover on Hoedown, while Shame About It is another track to focus on. Veteran singer/songwriter Kellly Joe Phelps contributes acoustic guitar and sings on the album's two vocal cuts, May You Never and the bluesy Hellhounds On My Trail. The album was produced by Lee Townsend. Zubot and Dawson are a staple of the summer folk and jazz festival scene, but they'll be embarking on a national theatre/club tour in November to support the album. Chicken Scratch is the duo's first release on True North Records, but it's a good fit, so expect this album to act as an introduction to many more good things to come.
back to topThe Courier -
We can't think of too many contemporary instrumental groups that we could sit and listen to, sans booze, sans blab, for a couple of hours without getting bored. Well, Zubot and Dawson showed us it can be done. If you missed the dynamic duo's CD release concert for their new CD "Chicken Scratch" at the Cultch Saturday night, too bad for you. Their jazzy, bluesy, eclectic music manages to be creative without being self-indulgent, and melodic without being predictable. And they obviously have fun making it - they don't get those constipated musician faces we associate with painful guitar and drum solos. Speaking of the latter, Elliot Polsky gave new meaning to the term "percussion" with his bag of toys, including something that resembled a giant rigid plastic marital aid.
back to topGlobe and Mail -
Vancouver four-piece Zubot and Dawson wind a ride more musical -- on horses, maybe, with a pack-mule full of banjos, violins, mandolins, lap-steels, acoustic guitars, and anything else with strings. Sometimes, on their plucky, fine and mostly-instrumental new release Chicken Scratch,they let those horses loose for a jazzy, improvised run; sometimes they head off-path for city sounds. Mostly, though, the lope is rootsy and easy. Saddle up, then.
back to topCanEHdian.com -
"Canada has witnessed increasing success of late by promising young musicians. Real Players: guitarist Jesse Cook, guitarist/producer Gordie Sampson, fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and April Verch, and now, Zubot and Dawson. Their aptly-named second album release is a continuation of the experiment in Bluegrass/Roots/Blues that was their first record, STRANG. This is the word they've coined to descibe their music; it suggests the cordophone origins of the sound, the laid back atmosphere on the record, a tip of the hat, perhaps, to the region from which their musical ingredients are derived. Brilliant. As has been stated before, it must be stated again: in the 60's and 70's, David Grisman, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, and others of their ilk decided that Bluegrass didn't need to consist of whiny songs performed over three chords, but that it was wide open, begged for invention, a little energy to be put into it. This is the logical progression. Steve Dawson is their proverbial Jerry Douglas, or should have been, for the smoothness and humor of his playing. Jesse Zubot is a lovely fiddler and mandolin player. Between the two, and their asssembled troop of ... stranglers(?) they have distilled the essence of South-Appalachian musics and recombined them in a refreshing, hyphenated form. Their music is complex, yet cinematic, playful, erudite, and flawlessly executed. Music for players and fans alike. Very highly recommended.