Steve Dawson, Ingrid Graudins | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sun., May 16, 7 p.m. 2010
Price: $20, $18 members, $16 seniors and kids
Few Chicago singer-songwriters have been as solid for as long as Steve Dawson, but his consistency has also turned out to be one of his biggest liabilities. In the early 90s Dawson had a songwriting deal in Nashville, and he and his band Stump the Host were on the brink of signing a major-label contract (they didn't). That's turned out to be the high point of his career, though, at least commercially—and part of the reason has to be that he's never changed his impeccably crafted mix of twang, soul, and pop in order to follow a trend. He writes great songs and sings them beautifully, and in the late 90s, when he could've gone over big with the alt-country audience if he'd put on a cowboy hat and bolo tie, he stayed true to his workaday self instead. Most of Dawson's work has been with his long-running band Dolly Varden, but he's best when he calls all the shots—and on his second solo album, the new I Will Miss the Trumpets and the Drums (Kernel Sound Recordings/Undertow), he played every instrument and sang every note, with only a few exceptions. The familiar Dawson signposts are there—the Al Green/Hi Records sound of "Goodbye," the vintage Van Morrison feel of "Today She Found the Way (to Break My Heart)"—and as usual he also delivers subtler numbers without such clear pedigrees. On songs like the harrowingly beautiful "Mastodons" and the gospel-tinged "I Wish That I Could Believe in You Again" (where he simulates a choir by multitracking his own voice), emotional darkness lurks beneath the grace. For this release party Dawson will be supported by a knockout 12-piece band that includes drummer Gerald Dowd, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke, pedal-steel whiz Joel Paterson, reedist Keefe Jackson, cornetist Josh Berman, string player Tom Murray, and three backup vocalists. Ingrid Graudins, one of those three vocalists, opens.

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