High Fives 2021 No. 3 – Steve Dawson

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Photo by Matthew Gilson

Confusingly, there are two Steve Dawsons on the Americana scene, both very highly regarded and both featured on Music Riot at various times. This Steve Dawson is the one from Chicago and member of Dolly Varden and Funeral Bonsai Wedding whose powerful album “At the Bottom of a Canyon in the Branches of a Tree” was reviewed here earlier this year. Here are some of the things that made 2021 a good year for Steve.

For me personally 2021 was a peak year. A project I’d been working on for over 3 years was released as “At the Bottom of a Canyon in the Branches of a Tree,” and very well received. The contrast of my good fortune with so much loss and hardship in the world due to the pandemic was sobering and clarifying. I do think (hope) that the pandemic and the uncertainty it caused has made people more grateful for the things that matter, and that includes live music and connection. Here’s a few things that I am grateful for in 2021.

Waxahatchee singing Dolly Parton’s, “Light of A Clear Blue Morning” This came out in 2020 but I started listening to it in the spring of 2021 and it was the perfect song to slowly emerge from the nightmares of the Trump era and lockdown. I taught online guitar and songwriting classes during the lockdown and sang this version of this song with them all. It was healing. Katie Crutchfield’s voice on this track is otherworldly.

The long-delayed release concert for my album from 2020, “Last Flight Out,” at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago
I recorded an album called “Last Flight Out” with my folk-jazz group, Funeral Bonsai Wedding, that featured the Quartet Parapluie String Quartet in 2019 and it was released in May, 2020, at the height of the pandemic. The release concert for the record had to be rescheduled four times. This past October we finally were able to do the show and for many it was the first live event they’d been to in over 18 months. I’ve never experienced a show that was that cathartic for the audience and musicians together and I don’t know that I will ever again.

Pravda Records

My new album, “At the Bottom of A Canyon In the Branches Of A Tree,” was released on a legendary Chicago indie label called Pravda Records. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of their roster of artists. Thank you Kenn, Melissa and Sheila!!

Bandcamp

Bandcamp really shines in the online music world. They really showed up for indie musicians by creating “Bandcamp Friday” on the first Friday of each month since the pandemic began – by waiving their share and having the artists and labels get all the income. In a world enamored by the greed of Spotify and Amazon, Bandcamp is a miracle.

Kath and Kim Diane and I were introduced to this super wacky Australian sitcom from the early 2000’s by a friend and now we can’t stop watching it and quoting lines back to each other. “Look at moy, look at moy, look at moy…”

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