Steve Dawson wants to keep it simple. On his latest offering, Rattlesnake Cage, Dawson decided to take it back to the old-school country and blues ranging from the 30s to the 60s guitar.
"Back in those times the recording process was a lot simpler, and was a bit more inviting I find." He says of the concept.
Recording from a vintage tube microphone, Dawson wanted to bring a more intimate experience to the record, as if the listener were sitting a mere five feet from the player.
"The way that instrumental guitar music has kind of evolved it's kind of more in vogue to make everything sound hyper real, like you're sticking your head inside a guitar," he says, "So I wanted to go back to something like you would hear on a Mississippi John Hurt album in the 60s."
The tour will play to this aesthetic when he brings a long-time collaborator Keith Lowe on bas to the Sherwood Park's Festival Place Saturday, March 22nd.
Dawson started out with the plan to record a song a month, to have a sort of abstract portrait of a year voiced through the guitar.
But once he started, the basic process of write, play, repeat led to an exploration of acoustic guitar-Dawson has 6 and 12-string acoustic, a National tricone and a Weissenborn Hawaiian guitar.
Let's not forget that Dawson is a big name in Canadian roots with Junos under his belt and the Black Hen label to his name.
And his fans will get a little bit of everything with this album.
Southern narratives are evoked with songs wuch as The Medicine Show Comes to Avalon, there's a taste of ragtime in J.R. Lockley's Dilemma and blues to found in The Altar at Centre Raven.
"You know I remember when I first started listening to that kind of music, it blew my mind that one person was playing it," he says with a sort of reverence in his voice. "I was convinced there must be one person playing the low part and one person playing the high part, but as you pick up the instrument and learn the style, the mysteries kind of vanish. The style of playing in particular lends itself to simplicity in presentation because it's unadorned and it's raw, but it's complex in a way because your fingers are all working on their own agendas."
Dawson is humble, so while there's a lot of talk of simple this and basic that, less is more with Rattlesnake Cage.