Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson

 Brentwood, Tennessee, USA

Acclaimed guitarist/songwriter Steve Dawson has become one of the most in-demand musicians and producers in Canada, Performing his own solo shows, or as a sideman, or producer, he's been described as "the T-Bone Burnett of Canada (No Depression Magazine).


Over the past decade or so Steve Dawson has become such an indelible fixture on the Canadian musical landscape that its tempting to take him for granted. One of the drawbacks of being so talented is that Dawson makes everything he does sound so effortless. The music that continually flows out of him is so natural and unforced that its possible to forget all of the toil that went into producing it. Behind the organic, flowing guitar work, the crisp arrangements and the laconic singing voice, resides one of the brightest, hardest working musicians the country has ever produced.

Steve Dawson is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. Specializing in slide and fingerstyle guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, banjo and other instruments, he is in demand as a performer, session musician and producer. Over the last decade, Steve has performed at major guitar, jazz and folk festivals in Canada, the USA and Europe.

In addition to working on his own music, hes kept very busy producing memorable albums by such luminaries as Jim Byrnes, Kelly Joe Phelps, Jenny Whiteley, Old Man Luedecke, The Sojourners, and The Deep Dark Woods, as well as the award winning Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Project. Add to that his session work and touring commitments and its amazing that this 2-time Juno award winning artist (not to mention 3 other Junos for his production work!) ever finds the time to create any new work under his own name.

Steve grew up in Vancouver. At 18, Steve spent two years at Bostons Berklee College, before returning home to perform in touring original bands for several years. His interest in acoustic music began to take root at this time, as he explored the earliest recordings of blues, jazz, and Hawaiian music from the 20s and 30s.

The Spirit Merchants were the most prominent and this band played countless gigs all over North America. Steves subsequent duo with violinist Jesse Zubot (Zubot and Dawson) featured acoustic instruments in genre-stretching original music. They released 3 albums and won many awards, including a Juno in 2002.

The Great Uncles of the Revolution teamed Zubot and Dawson with 2 exceptional jazz musicians from Toronto. This band was the winner of a Juno Award in 2003, as well as The Grand Prix de Jazz at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2003.

Other artists began asking Steve to produce records for them. In between tours and sessions, he started a career as record producer. Steve has produced award-winning albums for Jenny Whiteley, Jim Byrnes, Old Man Luedecke, Kelly Joe Phelps, Ndidi Onukwulu, The Sojourners, John Wort Hannam, and many more. He has been awarded Producer of the Year honours twice at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and three times at the Western Canadian Music Awards.

In 1998, Steve started Black Hen Music, an independent record label with the intention of releasing roots, acoustic, jazz and blues music. Over the last 15 years, the label has thrived and now has a roster of almost 20 artists and over 60 releases that are distributed internationally.

Steve began his solo recording career in 2001, releasing Bug Parade. 2005 saw the Juno Award nominated We Belong to the Gold Coast, which further explored his love of antique and modern sounds, mixing traditional blues and Hawaiian music with originals.

Steve received a grant in 2005 from the Canada Council to study the pedal steel with Greg Leisz, the foremost player of the instrument outside of country music.

2008 saw the release of 2 solo albums: Waiting For The Lights To Come Up a collection of new songs, and a few traditional, and Telescope an all-instrumental album featuring the pedal steel guitar as the main voice. Recorded at the same time, these were 2 different concepts that Steve wanted to record with the same musicians. Telescope was nominated for a Juno in 2009.

Steve produced Things About Comin My Way: A Tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks in 2009. It featured Bruce Cockburn, Van Dyke Parks, Danny Barnes, Geoff Muldaur, Bob Brozman, John Hammond, Bill Frisell, Madeleine Peyroux and many more. Several high-profile concerts with various participants have taken place subsequently, and an award-winning in-concert DVD was released.

Steve Dawsons work as producer and musician has resulted in numerous accolades, including 5 Juno Awards and 16 nominations, 10 Western Canadian Music Awards, and 22 nominations, 2 Independent Canadian Music Awards for Roots Album Of The Year and a Maple Blues Award, among others.


Album Releases as Solo Artist, or Featured Band Member:
2011 – Nightshade (solo)
2009 – Things About Comin’ My Way: A Tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks
2008 – Telescope (solo)
2008 – Waiting for the Lights to Come Up (solo)
2005 – We Belong to the Gold Coast (solo)
2003 – Blow the House Down (Great Uncles of the Revolution)
2002 – Chicken Scratch (Zubot and Dawson)
2001 – Bug Parade (solo)
2001 – Stand Up! (Great Uncles of the Revolution)
2000 – Tractor Parts (Zubot and Dawson)
1998 – Strang (Zubot and Dawson)
1994 – Don’t Need Much (The Spirit Merchants)

Set List

Original songs may include:

1000 Year Old Egg
At Arms Length
Caballero's Dream
Chris Gestrin
Darker Still
Dry As Our Luck
Fairweather Friends
Fire Somewhere
Fun Machine One
Fun Machine Two
Hard To Get Gertie
Have That Chance
Keith Lowe
No One Goes To The Park When It Rains
Room To Room
Ruin My Day
Slow Turns
Somebody's Got To Help You
Speaker Damage
Swinging In A Hammock
The Fray
The Gunslinger Retreats And Lurks Underground
The Hunt Is On
The Side of the Road
The Time It Takes
Today's Surprise
Torn and Frayed
Walk On
Walkin' Down The Line
We Still Won the War