Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Indie singer /songwriter, country-soul, folk, americana



There was a time when popular radio was defined by the craftsmanship and raw talent of folks like Al Green, Paul McCartney and Carole King. Steve Dawson would have fit in just fine. As part of Chicagos criminally under-known Dolly Varden hes churned out nothing but quality for 15 years, but his second solo outing, I Will Miss The Trumpets and the Drums, carries the timeless inflection of vintage Roy Orbison and George Harrision. Personal, philosophical, and subtly orchestrated, Dawsons tunes sway with whispers of pedal steel, finely placed echo, and a tasty acoustic / electric guitar combo, all underpinning one of the great pop-rock voices of our time, a set of pipes both instantly appealing and flecked with warm, individual character. Think Ace-era Paul Carrack mixed with Elliot Smith and Big Stars Chris Bell. Put into service for compositions packed with melody, texture and winning wordplay and you have a classic artist hiding in plain sight. JAMBASE

Steve Dawson was born in California, raised in Idaho, and currently lives in Chicago. His songs show evidence of all 3 places - the California folk-rock of the early 70's (Gram Parsons, Neil Young, Jackson Browne), the country music he heard growing up in Idaho, and the blues and soul music of Chicago. Dawson first picked up guitar at age 12 and began writing songs almost immediately. His first professional gig was playing guitar with Cadillac Carl and the Road Rangers at the Silver Dollar Saloon in Bellevue, Idaho. After high school, Dawson attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, studying jazz composition and songwriting, while also performing in the local folk music scene. In the early 90s Dawson moved to Chicago. Upon his arrival he met Diane Christiansen and they formed the band Stump the Host, which became a training ground and a showcase for Dawsons eclectic songwriting. In 1995 Stump The Host changed personal and evolved into a new band, Dolly Varden, releasing the first of five albums that would reflect the growing craft and depth of his songs. Critics from Rolling Stone, Uncut, and the Village Voice, among many others, have praised Dawson's gift for melodic, evocative songwriting. Dolly Varden has toured all across the US and Europe over the last 14 years. In 2006 Undertow records released Dawson's first solo album, Sweet Is The Anchor a collection of quiet, layered songs recorded in Steve's home studio. Critics noted Dawson's heightened strength as both a songwriter and singer, combining elements of country and soul: "Sweet Is The Anchor is a vocalists album awash in the languor of country music and the Saturday night highs of soul (Chicago Daily Herald) Dawson's latest solo album, I Will Miss The Trumpets And The Drums (Undertow, 2010), was once again self-produced and recorded in Dawsons home studio, Kernel Sound Emporium. The follow up to Sweet Is the Anchor, the new album features 13 haunting, melodic songs about change and letting go, sung in Dawsons plaintive tenor, with echos of classic country, pop and soul. In addition to performing and recording Dawson teaches songwriting at the world famous Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.



Written By: Steve Dawson

OBSIDIAN (Steve Dawson)
You should know by now
Everything you say will be misinterpreted
Turn around right now
Every step you take leads you furthur from the good
C’mon, now, obsidian
Soften your skin, let the change begin
C’mon, now, the soft clay of your heart
Is a place to start
I pray that you can
You should see yourself
Contorting into shapes to try and re-explain yourself
We would all just laugh
If it wasn’t such a shame
This time it’s a matter of life and death
Repeat chorus twice
C’mon, now!

Today She Found The Way To Break My Heart

Written By: Steve Dawson

(Steve Dawson)
well, it’s my own fault for letting down my guard
I guess I never expected to get hit so hard
She’s still standing in the corner
She’s beautiful, she’s smart
And today she found the way to break my heart
Everybody tells me I was distant and cold
Until she came along and filled my head with hope
Yeah, she threw her arms around me
She kept me from falling apart
Now today she’s found the way to break my heart
I don’t know why she turned so cold so fast
I only know I won’t survive another day like this
I’m stumbling around side to side
Where the aftershocks and the faultlines collide
I never wanted to face this kind of lonliness
But I guess I’m gonna have to start
Because today she found a way
Yeah today she found a way
Oh, today she found a way to break my heart
C’mon, baby, why you gotta break my heart!
Steve Dawson: guitars, drums, bass, organ, electric piano, vocals


Written By: Steve Dawson

it came from outer space it seems
and dropped its seeds in the rows of your dreams
and then the vines set in to grow
in the place in your heart where you grieve
and with a blackness you cannot describe
the tendrils pull, the vessels collide
muscle memory sluggish and dull
no will left to sort or divide

and yet, the rush of gravity beams
the smell of the river after it rains
the feel of your feet touching the earth
the chance that love will one day return

out in the brambles, the tar and the weeds
visitors come, visitors leave
bracing for winter you harden your bones
mercury drops by degrees
and all you can hear is the rushing of blood
as it pushes past your ears up in to your head
filling your dreams with snakes and drums
and mastodons stuck in the mud

but somehow moments still break through
despite the dying inside of you
and lift you up like the warmth of the sun
and radiate out toward everyone

and yet, the rush of gravity beams
the smell of the river after it rains
the feel of your feet touching the earth
the chance that love will one day return


Dolly Varden: "For A While" (2013)
"I Will Miss The Trumpets And The Drums" (2010)
Dolly Varden: "The Panic Bell" (2007)
"Sweet Is The Anchor" (2005)
Steve Dawson & Diane Christiansen: "Duets" (2003)
Dolly Varden: "Forgiven Now" (2002)
Dolly Varden: "The Dumbest Magnets" (2000)
Dolly Varden: "The Thrill of Gravity" (1998)
Dolly Varden: "Mouthful of Lies" (1995)
Stump The Host: "California Zephyr (7" singer, 1993)