Gearing up for the 20th anniversary of Dolly Varden. The band actually started more like 22 years ago as Stump The Host broke up. After being told by everyone from guys on the street to A&R reps at PolyGram records that Stump was just too “twangy,” Diane and I thought we’d try making a rock band. Bad timing! 1992 and 93 were the years that “country” rock (Jayhawks, Uncle tupelo) was actually popular! Oh, well. We tried with the able assistance of Lisa Wertman on bass and Matt Thobe on drums. Mark Balletto joined sometime in 93, and we played in town, did a bit of touring and called ourselves Dolly Varden. I never really connected with the music we were making, though. We recorded an EP in 94 that was never released. Diane’s songs were the best of the bunch. I decided to go back to writing and singing the way I knew best: with some folk / country narrative, acoustic guitar accompaniment, and honesty instead of attitude. It felt right. Lisa left around this time. It was an amicable split and we’re still friends. We recruited Mike Bradburn from the Andersons to play bass and in 1995 we began recording “Mouthful of Lies” in our home studio. That’s when I reconnected with the music and the heart and soul of Dolly Varden was born, particularly marked by the song, “Not Ashamed,” which appears to be about a relationship but might just be about playing music from the heart.

Dolly Varden 20th Anniversary ConcertSaturday, May 2nd, 8pm
Old Town School Of Folk Music
4544 N. Lincoln Ave, Chicago

advance tickets on sale now

I have a bunch of cool and varied stuff coming up through the end of February. In addition to a show with Eddie Holstein at SPACE – we did a version of this same show at the Hideout about a year ago and it was great – I’m playing bass with the wonderful & soulful Rachel Drew and her new band, The Bitter Roots, and Diane Christiansen and I will be doing a rare duo performance in late February in Milwaukee, at Shank Hall, as part of Scott Woldridge’s CD release celebration. AND I am doing a show with Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Feb 2.

I am also very excited about the Dolly Varden 20th anniversary concert that will be at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday, May 2nd!

I hope to see you at one of these shows! For addresses, start times, etc, click on the ‘shows’ tab above

Mon Feb 2: with Robbie Fulks at the Hideout
Sat Feb 7: Rachel Drew and the Bitter Roots at the Throne Room
Sun Feb 15: with Eddie Holstein at SPACE (note 2:30pm start time!)
Fri Feb 27: Dawson / Christiansen duet set at Shank Hall, Milwaukee.
Sat May 2nd: Dolly Varden 20th anniversary concert, Old Town School of Folk Music

FBW hideout poster:Layout 1

2014 year-end wrap up of shows and set lists, with photos and videos

Funeral Bonsai Wedding now available

September 18, 2014

“One of the most underrated songwriters in American music, Chicago-native Steve Dawson has been helming influential rock band Dolly Varden since the early ’90s, producing humane and hooky solo records, collaborating with his wife Diane Christiansen and digging into soul on side projects. His newest venture is Funeral Bonsai Wedding, a jazz-folk collaboration that flashes […]

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Funeral Bonsai Wedding album release concerts: Chicago 9-12, St. Louis 9-13

September 1, 2014

Friday, September 12th: The Constellation 3111 North Western Ave, Chicago, 9:30pm $12.00 with special guests: Robbie Fulks, Diane Christiansen and the Bonsettes (Rachel Drew, Shelley Miller and Diane Christiansen) opening set by Rock Falls Saturday, September 13th: The Stage at KDHX 3524 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 8pm $10 / $12 with Cave States Buy […]

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