Steve Dawson is what they call a music heavyweight.
He’s a musician’s musician, successful record producer and multiple Juno award winner (seven Juno awards as artist/producer, 18 times nominated). So when he hand picks people to play with him on a collaborative tour, folks tend to sit up and take notice.
The Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society is pleased to present the Black Hen Roadshow (Steve Dawson, Leeroy Stagger, Steve Marriner of Monkey Junk,and Ndidi Onukwulu) April 18 at the Vernon Lodge and Conference Centre.
“Every two years or so, I put this tour together where I get a group of musicians who don’t necessarily know each other and have not necessarily played together,” Dawson explains. “We learn each other’s songs and then present them in a way that’s a little unusual and it gives everybody a chance to perform their music in a way they normally wouldn’t with their regular band.
“Black Hen Music is my company but the people I include on these shows aren’t always in my company or affiliated with me. They’re just people I’ve worked with and met along the way who I like and think would be a good fit.”
Dawson is originally from Vancouver but for the past five years has been living in Nashville and producing records at his HenHouse Studio.
“I produce a lot of records for folks (Bruce Cockburn, Rhiannon Giddens, Jim Byrnes, John Hammond, Oh Susanna, Carolina Chocolate Drops and more). My specialty is slide guitar and fingerstyle picking. I’ve been playing around Canada for years and years and I tour a lot either on my own, with my own group or with different bands. I have a new record coming out which I’ll have on tour called Lucky Hand and I’m really excited to be collaborating with these folks on tour.
“Leeroy Stagger is originally from Victoria, B.C. but has been living in Lethbridge, Alta. for many years”, Dawson says.
Stagger has toured the world on his own and with the likes of Steve Earle, The Pixies and Modest Mouse. His songs have appeared on the television shows Grey’s Anatomy and Sons of Anarchy.
“He’s a really interesting songwriter and a nice guy,” Dawson says.” I’m very happy to have him on the show.
“Steve Marriner is an amazing singer, harmonica and guitar player. He’s probably best known for his group Monkey Junk who just won a Juno for best blues album,” Dawson says.” He was only 13 or 14 when he first started out—he’s probably 30 now and plays with Colin James and tours a lot with Harry Manx and other people. He’s just a fantastic all around musician.
“Ndidi Onukwulu is a wonderful singer and is someone I’ve worked with a lot over the years,” Dawson comments. “She’s also originally from British Columbia but now lives in Los Angeles. She has one of the most distinctive voices around—mostly soul, jazz and blues but she very much does her own thing, incorporating a lot of different styles. It’ll be great to have her on the show.”
This collaborative effort promises to be a full evening on great music.
“So what happens is that I’ll come out and do some of my own stuff,” Dawson explains. “Then I’ll bring on the band—consisting of a bass player and drummer—and they’ll back me up. We then turn into the band and each person on the show does a mini-set, about three songs each. That gives everyone a chance to perform their own material with a band.
“So in the first set, you get a real good taste of everybody’s music. For the second set, we bring everybody in for the whole set. Everybody jumps in and that’s really where the magic happens—music which might never happen again on stage—and that’s what makes the tour so unique.”
Tickets are $30 and available through the Ticket Seller, www.tickerseller.ca (250-549-7649), at the Bean Scene Coffee House or cash only at the door, if available. Show time is 7.30 p.m., doors open at 6.30 p.m. Wine, beer and food available at the show. A 20 per cent discount on food purchased at Don Cherry’s and at the Lodge Kitchen and Bar is being offered on the night of the show with proof of purchase. For more information, go to www.vernonfolkroots.com or Facebook. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.