Steve Dawson

Bug Parade

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Steve Dawson is an excellent Vancouver picker whose efforts with and without various sidekicks have been promoted as a style called "strang." It is not intimidating or incredibly challenging music, so it shouldn't be assumed that this would make more sense with an added "e" as "strange." No, this is something like the road traveled before by David Grisman and "dawg" music. The emphasis is on traditional stringed instruments and their resounding acoustic beauty, playing music that has a strong relation to folk and country. But in the latter department, this is country not with cowboy hats, but with paisley bandanas, West Coast style, the leader's vocals delivered in a style similar to Bluegrass Revival, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush, and so forth. Dawson's axe of choice is dobro, although he also picks on guitar and ukulele. His National tri-tone gets a better close-up than he does in the cover art, and the yearning sound of resophonic guitars is up front on almost every track, combining with the intriguing drumming of Jean Martin to create a truly evocative backdrop on "Hangman's Blues." "Big Bully" and "Zigzag City" are impressive, complex instrumental guitar structures aided by percussion mixing that uses distance and space in a superbly tactile manner. Worthy of special mention is the sound of the brushes on the latter tune, which has something of a Spanish flavor.

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