Al Dawson

Al Dawson

 Mesilla, New Mexico, USA
BandFolkAcoustic

Mix James Taylor, Otis Redding, Jackson Browne, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard and Sam Cooke.Throw in a little Who, Stones and Beatles. Let simmer for thirty plus years and pour over a heaping bed of Dan Fogelberg. Garnish with Micky Newbury and serve live for two hours with a B.B King salad.

Biography

Al Dawson was born to two farmers in the Midwest in what was then a rural area but is now a suburb of Chicago. At a young age his parents instilled in him a love of music. In fact he recorded his first record “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window” at the age of four, and the acetate of that recording is probably choking off plants in some faraway landfill somewhere. While a young boy he would ride along in the family sedan in the annual trek to somewhere in the vast expanses of America. One year it would be to California and the next to the Dakotas and the next to Florida. It was the Florida trips that he remembers best. There were no interstates then and the southern two lane route out of Illinois took them through the heart of the rural south, through the small towns with their segregated drinking fountains and washrooms. The road passed by small shacks on the sides of the road where old black men sat on front porches and played country blues to no one in particular. Al could hear some of these songs as his father drove slowly southward along the tree lined roads. This was the first music to etch itself into his young memory.
In his early teens his parents encouraged him to join a drum and bugle corps and learn the drums. He studied under Mitch Markovich who was the three time consecutive national rudimental drum champion. Al learned all the important snare drum chops and toured with Mitch to the various drum championships. When home, and while his parents were out of the house, he would crank up the volume on their console record player while listening to his sister’s 45’s, playing snare along with Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock and rollers from the era. He eventually bought a used Gretsch drum set that had cowhide heads and wooden rims with wooden lug nuts that were fused in place so the heads could not be tuned. He started playing in high school bands and remembers that once the crowds filled the auditoriums the heat and humidity went up and the drum heads went slack. The only cure was to carry a space heater around and three or four times a night hold the heads up to the heater to tighten them up. He also joined the school choir. He found that singing came naturally and was told by the choir director that with a voice like his he would go far. But it was in 1964 that his musical path was cemented. Otis Redding’s recording of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” came on the radio and through the tiny dashboard speaker of his father’s Dodge he realized what his whole life was about to become. “I had always thought, and maybe was taught that way, that being a singer was about hitting the right notes and phrasing correctly but until that moment I never realized that pure, raw emotion trumps everything. I knew then that all I wanted to do was sing”.
The following year, 1965, marked another important moment in Al’s life, as it does in all teenagers’ lives. He got his driver’s license. Now able to borrow his father’s car, he began almost weekly Sunday morning trips to Maxwell Street on Chicago’s near west side. There, music that had been performed since the 1930’s and 1940’s and became known as the Chicago Blues could be heard on the streets and in the alleys being played by what would become some of the legends of electric blues. Ignoring the vendors with their stolen goods (and great prices) he went straight toward the electrified sounds of something he recalled from the back of his memory-the sounds of the old black men sitting on their porches in the Deep South. This could be the point at which Al began to really absorb everything about music. His parents listened to country and western, his sister rock and roll; the local stations were playing The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who (still Al’s favorite rock band). He wanted to learn all about all the styles, sounds, genres, all that music ever was and would be. He listened to Big Bill Hill and the blues and R&B on WOPA, all the pop music on WCFL and WLS, Ralph Emery and country on WSM at night, classical on WEFM, WFMT and WNIB, jazz on WAAF and folk on WFMT.
Yes, Al became a music sponge, soaking up the rhythms and styles surrounding him but he was, after all, a teenager and teenagers love rock and roll. And most of the local bands that consisted of and were playing to teenagers were rock bands. So that is the direction he was headed. After playing in a number of school bands he got an audition with a local band with a Beatle type sound called the Squires, which featured a young guitarist and songwriter named Lenny Kerley (more on him later). He auditioned on their current drummer’s kit which was unfamiliar to him and he didn’t know how to set it up so their roadie put them together while the band members stared at Al thinking “what the hell’s with this guy?” But, perhaps miraculously, he passed the audition. It was time for a real drum set so he went to Frank’s Drum Shop in downtown C

Lyrics

EVERYTHING THAT'S OURS (©2010 Al Dawson/Smokin’ Moose Productions, LLC)

Written By: AL DAWSON

I WALKED OUT INTO THE COLD NIGHT AIR
AND THROUGH THE DARKNESS I SAW YOU STANDING THERE
YOU WERE LOOKING UP INTO THE MOONLIT SKY
AND IN THE SILENCE I THOUGHT I HEARD YOU SIGH
AND I WONDERED WHAT WAS ON YOUR MIND
AS I SLIPPED UP FROM BEHIND

NOW THE NIGHT HAS FRACTURED INTO A MILLION STARS
AND THIS MOMENT CAPTURES EVERYTHING THAT'S OURS
LIKE A DROP OF RAIN UPON THE DESERT SAND
I AM NOURISHED BY THE TOUCH OF YOUR HAND
WE MELTED AS OUR HEARTS FELL INTO LINE
AND YOURS FELL INTO MINE

CH: THE DUST LANES IN THE UNIVERSE CAN'T HIDE
WHEN I LOOK AT YOU AND SEE THE LIGHT INSIDE
WE STAND HERE IN THE FUTURE AND THE PAST
OUR LOVE WILL LAST

CH: TURN THE SILENCE UP AND LET IT THUNDER THROUGH
THERE'S MUSIC IN THE COMING OF THE DAWN
WE'LL STAND AND WATCH THE PHASES OF THE MOON
'TIL THEY'RE GONE

OUR BREATH HAS MINGLED WITH THE MOUNTAIN AIR
THE DESERT MOON'S REFLECTED IN YOUR HAIR
BUT THE STARS ARE SLOWLY SINKING IN THE WEST
IT'S TIME TO PUT OUR TIRED SOULS TO REST
SOFTLY YOU PUT YOUR HAND IN MINE
AS WE WALK BACK INSIDE
AND WE AND THE UNIVERSE ARE WED
AS WE FALL INTO BED

HOLD ON TO ME (©2010 Al Dawson/Smokin’ Moose Productions, LLC)

Written By: AL DAWSON

THROW AWAY THOSE WASTED YEARS
WHEN YOU THOUGHT LOVE WAS BLIND
DO AWAY WITH THOSE EMPTY TEARS
LEAVE THEM ALL FAR BEHIND
LET GO OF THE PAIN INSIDE YOU
OPEN UP AND SET IT FREE
YES, YOU CAN THROW AWAY EVERYTHING
BUT BABE, HOLD ON TO ME

I KNOW YOU'RE HURTING INSIDE
I KNOW WHAT I'VE PUT YOU THROUGH
CAN'T YOU FORGET THE TIMES THAT I LIED
JUST REMEMBER THE TIMES I WAS TRUE
ALL I KNOW IS WHAT I AM
AND ALL I AM IS WHAT YOU SEE
AND ALL I'LL SHOW YOU IS MY LOVE
IF YOU JUST HOLD ON TO ME

SOLO:

LET GO OF THE PAIN INSIDE YOU
OPEN UP AND SET IT FREE
'CAUSE I'L GIVE YOU ONLY GOOD THINGS BABY
IF YOU'LL JUST HOLD ON TO ME

WARM MOON (©2010 Al Dawson/Smokin’ Moose Productions, LLC)

Written By: AL DAWSON

THERE’S A WARM MOON IN THE SUMMER SKY TONIGHT
A MILLION STARS ARE ROAMIN’ ‘ROUND
IT’S A GOOD NIGHT FOR WALKING
THE WORLD HAS SETTLED DOWN WITHOUT A SOUND

WE WALK WITH QUIET FOOTSTEPS AS OUR VOICES TOUCH THE AIR
AND WE REMEMBER WHAT WE’D HOPED FOR NOW AND THEN
NOW WE HOPE TO STAY HERE FOREVER
‘CAUSE SOMETIMES IT SEEMS WE’LL NEVER SEE A NIGHT LIKE THIS AGAIN

BUT FOR NOW WE’VE GOT A HOLD ON TIME
AND FINDING IT WAS WORTH THE WAITING FOR
SOMEWHERE YOU’VE HID SECRETS YOU HAD MEANT TO SAY
YOU DON’T NEED TO HIDE THOSE SECRETS ANY MORE

SOLO

BUT FOR NOW WE’VE GOT A HOLD ON TIME
AND FINDING IT WAS WORTH THE WAITING FOR
SOMEWHERE YOU’VE HAD SECRETS YOU HAD MEANT TO SAY
YOU DON’T NEED TO KEEP THOSE SECRETS ANY MORE

LOOKING OUT FOR SOMETHING THAT CAN SHOW ME WHO YOU ARE
FOR SOMETHING TO HOLD ONTO FOR AWHILE
SOMETIMES YOU CAN SHOW ME
AND SOMETIMES YOU JUST TURN AROUND AND SMILE

Discography

Against The Grain-released 2008
A Traveler's Hat-released 2010
Synthesis (as a drummer with the Cryan Shames)-released 1968

Set List

Original songs plus:
Guadalupe (Tom Russell)
All I have to Do Is Dream (Everly Brothers)
Catch The Wind (Donovan)
Let's Get Together (Youngbloods/Cryan Shames)
Drift Away (Dobie Gray)
Give Me Wings (Michael Johnson)
Listen To Me (Bill Miller)
Rock Salt And Nails (Bruce "Utah" Phillips)
Thanksgiving Eve (Bob Franke)
When The First Leaves Fall (Steve Gillette)
Whiter Shade Of Pale (Procol Harum)

Lots more!!!