The Calgary Herald
The idea for a concert version of the project was undertaken as a fitting gala to coincide with the closing of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which featured over 15 guests and was, as Dawson says, an over-the-top undertaking. The success of it, as well as the DVD of the event, showed there was a hunger for the folk festival workshop styled performance, albeit from a logistics point of view, stripped down to only a handful of revolving guests, chosen from a pretty impressive stable.
"I think this lineup is special because it really reflects all the sides of (the Sheiks') kind of music that I like," Dawson says of this group, which has never performed the show all together. "It's got the uptown blues stuff covered by Jim; Alvin does the swampy, greasy stuff like nobody else; and Del Rey covers this whole ragtime spectrum of what one of the guys in the (Sheiks) was all about, pretty much better than anybody on the planet. And I just sort of float around in between there and do what I do."
As for where the project will float next, Dawson is, not surprisingly, noncommital, pointing out that this current handful of dates are as far as he's even planned. Still, the fact that it's come this far and taken on an entire life of its own is something he's not only grateful for, but indicates to him that it doesn't necessarily mean this is the end of the story.
"This is pretty much it," he says. "But then again, I never really planned to do this tour either and it just sort of came up. I'm definitely open to it, but it's never been something that I want to force down people's throats or endlessly drive into the ground.
"And I think a lot of people have also started playing these songs in their own repertories, so I think that's mission accomplished too, as far as spreading the word and having their music heard more and more. So I think we've done what we can do and if it happens again for whatever reason, we'll pick it up again."
Things About Comin' My Way: A tribute to the music of the Mississippi Sheiks, featuring Steve Dawson, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Jim Byrnes and Del Rey is Friday at SAIT's Gateway. Tickets from calgaryfolkfest.com or by calling 403-233-0904.