Steve Dawson had a formidable career as a performer and producer in his native Canada (including 7 Juno Awards as an artist and producer), before relocating to Nashville, Tennessee. He has a new recording "Rattlesnake Cage" (Black Hen Music) that consists of solo recordings that are informed by the deep traditions of blues ragtime, jaza and even Hawaiian music, but taking those influences in unexpected directions.
In a sense, his lovely melodies and marvelous finer picking as well as use of a slide hearken back to the "American Primitive" sound that John Fahey and other artists such as Peter Lang and Leo Kottke recorede playing acoustic guitars on Fahey's iconic Takoma record label in the sixties.
The eleven tunes presented here display his fluidity, facility and invention as he salutes Fahey on the opening "Blind Thomas at the Crime Scene," and he provides an indirect tribute to Mississippi John Hurt on the genial "The Medicine Show Comes to Avalon." He does a delightful evocation of Rev. Gary Davis on "The Altar at Center Raven," the strutting instrumental that closes the recording. The title track is a bluesy, lovely mix of slide an ddeft finger picking on which he almost has time stand still followed by the dreamy "Lighthouse Avenue," and the lively "Butterfly Stunt," on which I hear him distilling some Furry Lewis amongst other sounds.
Dawson's "Rattlesnake Cage" is a release sure to delight fans of Fahey, Land, Kottke, and similar artists, but certainly the music here should readily appeal to fans of blues, old-time country and other folk-related performances.