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October 5th: Back in Somerset

Hi everybody,
I’m back home and the tour already feels like a dream - but a very, very good one. I knew from past experience that ten days would go by in a flash, but this time the idea that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ definitely held true. Guitarist Uli Kringler did me a big favour introducing me to David Mette, a future star drummer and bass-player/multi-instrumentalist Fontaine Burnett - Uli did a fine job himself, rocking his way into Steuart Smith’s shoes - we even had three-part harmonies in place.

I am very grateful to all the loyal fans that turned out to support us. Sales of the digi-pack version of ‘Deep Rain’ were brisk, even though I appear to have proved that T-shirt buying days are past for much of my audience. Anyone who would like a limited-edition black T-shirt designed by the artist himself (sizes XL and M) can get one for just 10 Euros by writing to me via the guestbook.

Edgar Heckmann and his Blue Rose Team came as planned to Frankfurt and recorded the whole show (for audio) and much of it on camera too. A first taste can be viewed on Youtube where ‘That’s Why God Made Saturday Night’ went up two days after we played it. More will no doubt follow as well as a live DVD.

The new CD seems to have been well-received at German radio. It was almost like the ‘good old days’ of the ’90s, with a number of hour-long ‘portrait’ interviews (NDR, HR, WDR, SWR and Radio 1) and album of the week status on other stations. It is much harder for an independent like Blue Rose to gain the same exposure as the major labels, but Starkult did a good job of promotion and all the press has been positive so far.

The album will get a second run when it comes out in the UK after Christmas and there are still plans afoot with Blue Rose for a Christmas surprise. Watch this space…

So thanks to all of you who came to see the gigs. Your smiling faces and enthusiasm made up for any difficulties we experienced on the road. I truly enjoyed playing with such a world-class band and now that we have rehearsed together, we can do it all again - and we will.

Now it’s back to the book…(I’m interviewing Ronnie Wood tomorrow)

Love to all of you out there  in cyberworld,

Julian, Somerset

21/09/08

Today’s message comes from the backstage area in Dortmund, Germany, the third gig on our ten-day band tour. We had just under four days to rehearse the new line-up, finishing up with a ‘private’ warm-up gig for a few friends the night before our first proper show in Hamburg - no problem though, because these guys are fast.

This is a great line-up! I’ve played with some really brilliant musicians over the years and these guys can hold their heads up with any of them. All three are wonderful people, quick learners, non-smokers and have impeccable taste. All the new ‘Deep Rain’ songs sound as good as the record and some of the older ones have gained a totally new lease on life with funky new arrangements. We are having ‘big fun’ playing to decent crowds and leaving very happy audiences behind us.

So if you are reading this and are within reach of Frankfurt, Kassel, Buchholz, Potsdam, Hannover or Hamburg (the last show is near to where we started, then come along and join us.

Back to tuning the guitars…

Julian, Dortmund, Germany

9/11/2008 Update

I woke up this morning to an e-mail from Dan Burke from Chicago, a good friend whom I met on flight UA 929 when we landed in Newfoundland back in 2001 - one of a number of close friendships that stemmed from that time and those events. Dan’s given me the perfect reminder today, because, although I haven’t been able to stay in touch with all the people who shared the nights I spent in Gambo (or with those that took care of us) and though I haven’t wanted to dwell unnecessarily on that experience, I’ll never forget them and am grateful to Dan for giving me the chance to send out a greeting to any of my fellow passengers or ‘on-the-ground’ carers who happen to read this. Please send me a message to the guestbook if you do.

Most of the news at the moment concerns Germany as I am about to leave home to go and rehearse for the upcoming band tour. Every minute is packed with things to remember and things to do. Some more German radio dates  have come in: I’ll be live in the studio with WDR2 in Cologne on Sunday 14th. at 20.30 and with SWR in Mainz on Monday 22nd at 15.00 (before the Frankfurt gig). HR listeners in the Frankfurt area can also listen out for tracks from the new album  prior to that  show.

I’m still receiving occasional messages with suggestions for songs we should play on the tour and will do my best to please everyone. I’ve also had quite a few e-mails recently asking for autographs . I’m always happy to send out signed photos, but please send a stamped envelope with your request. If you’re in Germany you can write to me c/o Stahl Entertainment, Melatenguertel 22, 59033 Koeln.

Last newsflash for now: Although the Julian Dawson myspace page is still in the development stages, thanks to Simone Dorau-Schweika, there is a new German website (www.julian-dawson.de). The previous site, that ran for a long while, came to a gradual end and the original web address ended up being taken over and passd around by questionable business people. The new site is already up and initially duplicates the English website. As soon as there is time, it will take on its own character. My thanks to Simone and her team for all the hard work!

I hope to see as many friends as possible at the shows this month and greetings to everyone else out there in the world…
Love, Julian

September

05.09.2008

Veröffentlichung der ‘Deep Rain’ CD on Blue Rose Records

September 2008

Hi everybody,
After three weeks of rest and recreation in France, I’ve been (mostly) back at my desk since mid-August and the holiday already seems like ancient history. I spent one or two days typing interviews for ‘the book’ and played one gig with Dave Kelly (the Blues Band) to raise money for a piano for the local village hall but managed to find time to lie on the beach reading a book as well.

It’s always good to take a break from my full-time music and writing occupations, but I returned to pages of e-mails, piles of post and a full-on schedule. Things have moved on the Nicky Hopkins front as I have a literary agent helping me and a publication date in 2009. After the (almost) ten years I’ve spent on this project, I suddenly have a deadline to get the last chapters finished, which is actually more of a help than a problem, but comes at exactly the same time as the release this week of my ‘Deep Rain’ CD.

I’m having to keep my wits about me.

My last solo show was in Adrara S. Rocco near Bergamo in Italy, just before the summer break in July, but now the band shows in September are coming up fast, with all the preparations that involves. We will be rehearsing right up to the first show and already the first German reviews and radio plays are beginning to come in. The CD will be presented on WDR 2 Radio on Thursday Sept. 4th, (this week) at 20.00 and I will be spending an hour with Peter Urban on NDR radio in Hamburg starting at midnight on September 17th. The CD is record of the week on MDR Figaro and I’ve had confirmations of two visits to Radio 1 in Berlin, one of my favourite stations in Germany.

I’m hoping that anyone who has ever enjoyed a song or concert with me over the years, will make it to one of the band shows this month. It’s been a long while since I went out with a full band and a drummer and it is, of course, an expensive way to go, just when everyone is feeling the pinch economically…but I don’t care! I think the album has turned out really well and I want to give it my best shot. So I’ve picked great musicians, there will be T shirts for sale for the first time in years, plus the new CD as a single or deluxe digipack version - and of course older albums at friendly prices.

We’ll be playing the new songs and a selection of older favourites too. I realised when I sent the list out to the players, that there are lots of songs that have never been performed live with a full band. I am really looking forward to the chance to play them and hope that you’ll be there too…we need you more than ever in these tough times!

I’ll be promoting the German release of ‘Deep Rain’ right through the winter but I am already in discussions for a UK version in the New Year and some live work to back it up. I don’t know yet about North America, but watch this space. Meanwhile the CDs will be available through Blue Rose Records or via this website.

As I said last month, if you would like to make sure that a particular song is on the set list for the tour, you can contact me via the guestbook. It works now and it’s easy. I’ll add other information as it comes in until the shows start on September 19th. You’ll notice new items on the Trivia page and Photo Gallery have gone up…

Now back to the book.

Best wishes to all,

Julian, Somerset

07/07/08

I just wanted to add a quick note to say thank you for all the birthday greetings and positive comments about the new version of the website. I know I get the benefit of having a date that’s easy to remember!
With the band tour coming up in September, it occurred to me to ask anyone who feels like writing to the guestbook to suggest which songs we should include in the live set (apart from those off the upcoming CD). I’d be glad of any input and promise to honour any requests that come in. Back to work!

JULY UPDATE

Today is the eve of my birthday (again! Is it just me or are they coming round more quickly?)
I had a two-day visit to Braunschweig last weekend, staying with Kimberley Rew in Cambridge on the way through. I played two shows, one in private for a hundred and fifty veterinarians and scientists and one in a really friendly (if smoky) blues venue. Peter, the owner, an enthusiastic and very nice man, spent many years in the USA running clubs in Chicago and New Orleans and was the partner responsible for ‘entertainment’ at the Warehouse when the Grateful Dead had the legendary bust that led to their anthem ‘Truckin’…
I’ve spent the last week e-mailing ideas back and forth with Matthias Langer for the new CD cover - now completed to everyone’s satisfaction. It seems ages since we made the album and I haven’t been listening to it recently, so now I am really looking forward to the release. We’ve been deciding on posters today for the tour and I am having some T Shirts made for the first time in a long while.
Last night I paid a surprise visit to Albert lee and Hogan’s Heroes, old friends who were playing locally. Albert broke his arm back in May but you would never know it to see him play. It was great to hear them again and I got up to play harmonica on a Little Feat number and on Rodney Crowell’s beautiful ballad ‘Until I Gain Control Again’.
Now it’s back to the (almost finished) book…got to be done before I go on holiday!
More soon, Julian

JUNE UPDATE

Hi to everyone,
As you can see, the long-promised website overhaul is finally up and running - many thanks to Dave Andrews and his brother Matt for all the hard work and good ideas. We’ve already added some new pictures to the gallery and there will be more going up very soon, I’ve updated everything, the guest-book has a new system and a new look and and there is a contact page as well, so I am looking forward to any comments on the new features and layout and hope there’ll be lots of messages to make up for the long period when I’ve been ‘off the radar’.I’m really pleased with the way it all looks and the ease of movement between the different sections. I hope you will feel the same.
There’s not too much to report on the live front, though there are gigs upcoming in the UK, Italy and Germany before the summer holidays begin in August. I’ve had my harmonica suitcase out twice recently to play with British slide guitar whizz, Dave Kelly, (one at a double show with Stone The Crows vocalist Maggie Bell) as well as a UK Folk Festival appearance with singer and songwriter Boo Hewerdine, but my main task remains finishing the last chapters of the Nicky Hopkins’ story. I recently paid a visit to the Rolling Stones London office and am hoping for some more personal input from the rest of the band before the book is done.
There are always other distractions and other tasks that need attention. We are working hard on producing the cover art for the new album, for both versions - the straightforward CD release and the ‘De Luxe Digipack’ with a bonus CD of my older songs (and a couple of surprises), specially re-recorded with Uli Kringler in his Hamburg studio.
I received a call a week ago from a producer working with German artist Heinz-Rudolf Kunze asking for a translation into English of a song about a soldier in the Iraq war, ‘Astronaut In Baghdad’. The catch was that they needed it in two days, but I managed to meet the deadline and they were apparently pleased with the result. These are the surprises that keep life interesting if sometimes hectic.Finally, with the assistance of my daughter Clancy, I’ve responded to the calls from friends and fans to put up a MySpace page as well as this website. We’ll be adding to it and smartening it up in the next few days.
I hope you are enjoying good summer weather. For once it is hot here during the days leading up to the Glastonbury festival. My son Robyn and his partner are there selling falafel and other goodies from their ‘Vegeteria’ stand, so if you go there, tell them I sent you and you may get a freebie!
I’m going back to my writing desk again,
Best wishes to all of you out there,
Julian, Somerset

MAY NEWSLETTER

I’ll begin with a look back over the last three months - starting with the new album recording in Nashville.
I arrived in Tennessee on March 1st and was lucky to be staying with Barry and Holly Tashian again - their house really is a ‘home from home’ and they are wonderful hosts.
I had a day or two to acclimatise before Dan Penn came back to town from a show in Florida. The budget arrived at the bank in good time (a great relief) and we had a day or two to prepare the songs and the studio before work started with the band on March 6th.
I had lost half of my original team by moving the recording dates from January to March - John Deaderick was out playing keyboards for Michael McDonald and guitarist David Steele was also tied up with a road gig. As so often is the case, the team that turned up on the first day proved to be exactly right for what we were doing and it was plain sailing from the word ‘Go’.
Drummer Steve Ebe hails from Memphis and brought his groove with him. Daniel Tashian, who played drums on my ‘Under The Sun’ album was equally brilliant on bass this time around. Steve Allen, who I’d met with Bill Lloyd and Garry Tallent’s band the Long Players, held down the guitar chair with wonderfully laid-back licks and fills and my old friend Billy Livsey handled piano, Hammond organ and a variety of vintage electronic keyboards. (Billy appeared on ‘Headlines’ back in the early ’90s). Dan’s wife Linda took wonderful care of everyone.
I had spent some time with him finding out which microphone most suited my voice and settled in my vocal booth with my acoustic guitar and a Japanese mic that seemed to suit me. We cut all the tracks on sixteen-track 2 inch tape and this is the very first album when I have been able to keep ALL the vocals that went down with the band - not always the most perfect version, but quite different than any later attempt to sing to a finished track. Astonishingly the musicians said that it was the first chance they’d had for years to all record together, (in recent years Nashville has joined the trend to record instruments one at a time), so everyone was tuned in to each other, to the songs and to Dan in the producer’s chair. He lived up to the reputation he has had as a benevolent dictator, ever since working with the Boxtops on their Number 1 sixties hit ‘The Letter’ . All the musicians enjoyed his company and respected his judgements just as much as I do and the resultant tracks are soulful with just the kind of laid-back grooves I had hoped for.
To round things off, harmony vocals were provided by two husband/wife teams - Vince and Barbara Santoro and Holly and Barry Tashian - with a couple of brief appearances from Mr. Penn and from Daniel Tashian and his girlfriend Kelly.
I wrote four of the songs with Dan, two with Gene Pistilli, one with Iain Matthews and one with Rosie Flores - the remainder are all my own work.We cut thirteen tracks but decided at the mastering stage to keep one back for later. My favourites are the title song ‘Deep Rain’, ‘The Keys To The Kingdom Of Love’ and ‘Walking On The Dead’ but I’m happy with everything we did and look forward to seeing what everybody else makes of it.We worked pretty intensely for the three weeks I was in town with only one or two nights off, once to see Donnie Fritts and friends at the Douglas Corner (David Hood incredible on the bass), once to visit with Spooner Oldham, who came through town as special guest of the Drive By Truckers and once for a vinyl night with Bill Lloyd and Garry Tallent, who had a rare night off from touring with the Boss and invited the usual interseting mix of musicians and industry insiders to drink beer and listen to old records - always fun!
I eventually had to fly home leaving Dan mixing the last two tracks on his own as my tour dates were looming and I only had a few days at home before getting in the car again. Dan mastered the tracks with Jim DeMain in Nashville and I was thrilled with the finished CD when it finally arrived.
It will receive its first release on Blue Rose on September 5th. followed by my first band dates in almost ten years.Uli Kringler who has been playing guitar with me this year has helped put together the musicians, bringing in Hamburg-based American Fontaine Burnett on bass and Dave Mette on drums. I have really missed playing with a full line-up and am looking forward to our ten gig run (see tour dates).
My other big news is that after all the years spent working on the Nicky Hopkins biography I have a publisher again and the book will appear in the Autumn of 2009, 40 years after Nicky’s appearance at Woodstock with the Jefferson Airplane. I can’t give details of the company involved yet, but it is the perfect home for this very special subject.
My Spring tour began with a weekend in Hamburg for another Beatles/Star Club event. Interview guests this time included Spencer Davis, Tony Sheridan and the original barmaids from the Star Club and Beatles scholar Mark Lewisohn was among the many familiar faces attending. I went straight off to Oldenburg next day, met up with Uli Kringler and played more or less straight through to April 22nd. when I finished up with a solo gig in Luxemburg. Uli played wonderfully and went down well with my audience. I’m looking forward to the next chance to work with him. We spent tow days off in his Hamburg studio recording tracks for a ‘De Luxe’ version of the the new album. More on that later.
For now, apart from a handful of UK shows and two in Germany, I’m more or less off the road for the next two months and will spend the time writing and preparing for the new CD release.
Wishing everyone good weather and a lovely Summer,
Love from here,
Julian Dawson, Somerset

FEBRUARY NEWS UPDATE

The tail-end of last year ended up being quite busy. Charlie Louvin’s visit to London was a triumph and it was great to see him. He is now eighty years old and shows no signs of slowing up at all. I rehearsed with his band and the guest vocalists the BBC had decided to put with him (from younger bands Blanche and the Handsome Family) and played a good part of Charlie’s set at Dingwall’s, which was recorded both for radio and TV broadcast. A highlight for me was a backstage visit from Ray Davies, who gracefully agreed to have his picture taken with the various Kinks fans present (including yours truly), but even better, promised to give me my Nicky Hopkins interview at last - and then actually did!
I went off in early December for my handful of shows in Germany and Holland. The first Dutch show was one of Iain Matthews’ songwriter presentations and was a delight. Both my other shows in Holland went really well too and I have been asked back, which is always nice. I finished up for the month of December on stage in Hannover, with a cast of thousands for the annual Blue Rose Christmas party.
This time I got to meet and play with new friends Chris Cacavas and Rich Hopkins as well as a few familiar faces such as Swiss slide wizzard Hank Shizzoe and Todd Thibaud. It was a sold out show and the four hundred or so guests seemed to enjoy every act and every minute. I was the presenter and co-ordinator of the proceedings this time, which meant for some hard work on the night - but good fun too. In fact the only cloud over the event was the fact that poor David Knopfler broke his shoulder stepping off stage at the rehearsals and never made it to the show. I’ve heard he is well on the way to recovery in the meantime.
It was great to see Blue Rose chief Edgar Heckmann with such a big smile on his face.
After all that action, Christmas and New Year were quiet family affairs this year, without too much travelling!
The New Year was supposed to begin with my trip to Nashville to record with Dan Penn, but around Christmas time, Dan asked me to postpone the sessions to early March, so that he could grab a much-needed break. This presented quite a few problems, as I had gone to great lengths to put together a terrific band of young players for January, some of whom might now not be available for the new dates.
I’ve learned over the years to take unexpected changes in my stride and trust that what comes out at the end will be jjust as good or better than my expectations, and one thing that Nashville is not short of is musicians!
During my visit in October I wrote four new songs with my producer (one every day) and a couple on my own, so I am llooking forward to my first ‘band’ recording in a good while. As Dan said on the phone, ‘Just bring your guitar and your good self and let’s have some fun!’ My sentiments entirely…
Now, back to work so I can get the book done before I get going with the new songs…Love from Somerset,
Julian

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