9.30.2006

DAVID DONDERO, POETIC AMERICAN SONGWRITER

DAVID DONDERO [ROAD WISE VETERAN]
David Dondero the road wise touring veteran writes songs about his travels touring and the in-between stops along the way. Dondero has supported his life in music, taking on jobs in towns and cities across America. His life is broader than that of a musician who might experience life in a touring bubble. His lifestyle has come with personal sacrifice, but has guided his voice and is reflected in his outstanding songwriting. It is what makes him stand out from so many other songwriters. The cataloging of experiences that few have had and few can tell so sincerely.

He is not fearful of taking on topical subjects like guns, religion and politics and sex. He pens his material like journal entries. Thoughtfully and cleverly and flavored with a little tongue in cheek tone. Like /I was just a tender chicken in the Florida rotisserie - my own sweats basting me...... or / some decisions are incisions - much too late to make revisions - sorry is just a suture...... and his description of his tour van / built in 1973- fossilized technology... his lonesome longings /liquor - come take her place - miss her- make it erase........One of my favorites is his reference to being a convenience store connoisseur, describing the Zagats of highway travel. When I listen to his songs I visualize all the colorful people and places. I am in the song as a spectator and mesmerized by his insightful phrasing, offbeat escapades and vivid descriptions.

The music is in the folk rock tradition but mixed with bluegrass. It is edgy and that's what makes them original sounding and not generic. Just when you think you get it he'll suddenly change the timing with an electric guitar part that's atypical of that style, and it works. He sometimes incorporates banjo, mandolin, drums and horns. Always present in his songs is the finger picking, hammered guitar strings and quivering voice.

I have seen Dondero live four times, twice alone and twice with his talented touring drummer Craig D. I always love seeing him play. It was great to see him energized by an enthusiastic crowd at CMJ Team Love night 2005. He took out his camera to take a picture of the gorgeous audience to send to his mother. He is very endearing. The show was an energetic, high tapping- clapping-stomping show. In an acoustic show at the Knitting Factory tap room in August 2006, a quieter but very determined singer emerged. His guitar broke toward the end of the set. He borrowed a very small guitar from the previous singer. It was a sight to see his 6'2" frame in a small chair overpowering this tiny guitar. Then he sang the most poignant song called the Rothko Chapel singing/ my religion is in nature, art and literature - my religion is in science, music and poetry....... He is presently featuring this demo on his myspace site.

I was thrilled that an NPR host Robin Hilton listed him as one of the 10 best living songwriters. Although I don't generally like lists, I was pleased Dondero received this deserving recognition. One very well written review of Dondero's 2003 release The Transient is by the writer Gary Glander for Pop Matters, captures the essence Dondero the songwriter.

I own his full collection, and didn't want to use this post to review a specific CD. They all have been a personal obsession and I cherish all of them. I am looking forward to his next effort. The demos that he has been featuring on his myspace site have teeth and they bite. The lyrics attack in the political song You Got Love In You. He employs strong and powerful words that remind me of the spirit of early Folk, when words could make a difference.
Check out his Fall tour Dates
Discography

The Pity Party 1999
Spider West Myshkin a City Bus 2000
Shooting at the Sun with a Water Gun 2001
The Transient 2003
Live at the Hemlock 2004
South of the South
2005

9.16.2006

Freedom to Discover Music

Freedom to Hear Music, Find Music, Share Music and Love Music.
Great music is being heard. It is thrilling to me to see the change in the way music lovers can hear, find and share music. Musicians now have the opportunity to create careers on their own or with the help of a caring independent label. The tides our changing. There are people all over the world starting sites like this one. Spreading the word about music they love.

Recently I befriended someone that has a Myspace site that strongly states "Let's Make Folk a Threat Again". He is a young man who is passionate about changing the world through music. On his site he hosts bands and singer songwriters that are doing just that. He presents their uTube live performances for all who find his site, to hear and investigate. These great musicians are playing among us on street corners, in basements, garages and small venues. They are being heard by a few but have the potential to be heard by many!

Music fans and bloggers are curating their personal music aesthetic. They are creating their own small communities of like minded listeners. Myspace, uTube, Last.fm and podcasts are vehicles to help bring music forward and expand the audience.

Many of the public radio sites and stations offer some new music, but are gearing there music selection to an older demographic. Their playlists get very similar and end up being mediocre. They are trying to please, but are not challenging their audience. They often play music that has an audience, not music that needs to find one. I miss the truly informed host. I want to hear the history behind the music and find out what was just played. That is why I'm not a big fan of Satellite radio.

In 2004 WillyMason
was discovered by Conor Oberst. He opened a few shows for Bright Eyes and was very well received. Shortly after those shows he played SXSW to an audience of four. The audience turned out to be scouts for Zane Lowe Radio1 on the BBC. Their job that night was to find the best band at SXSW. Well they loved Willy Mason and asked him to perform a song on the air. The song was played and requested for months. At that point his first self released EP was available. Eventually he recorded his full length and by the end of 2005 had sold 100,000 CD's in the UK.. Unfortunately, this would never happen here in the States. The corportization of radio and rise of the monopoly the Clear Channel would change radio and music discovery in this country forever.

When I was a teenager in the mid to late sixties radio reached a broader community. Along with hearing bubblegum pop you would also hear Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes and Hendrix all in the same half hour of airtime. Everybody was hearing the same music, and great music had a chance to evolve and change the culture. Today we are a boutique culture. This feels comforting, but creates separation of communities rather than shared experience.

Even though myspace is owned by Rupert Murdock and is weighed down with advertising and over customized sites, it is still free and accessible. I am able to find inspiring music on myspace. It does take time and a discerning ear, but it is there. It has aided bands like the Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sell large quantities of CD’s by indie standards and fill venues without radio play. Their success is a hopeful sign for other music artists to model.

I am trying to find out about new vehicles that foster music discovery. I am hoping to start a dialogue with this community of music lovers. Maybe you have some suggestions and some answers to questions that would be helpful to other musicians and music fans. Are there radio and Internet radio sites that are innovative and worthwhile? Are there sites that should be avoided? Is CD Baby
a good way for independents to sell CD's? In what way do you think all of this will evolve? What's on the horizon that most people are not aware of? Are you willing to share? Together we can make a difference. Freedom to hear music, find music, share music and love music!! Please comment and help move the culture forward.