Just a quick bit of background here I had just seen Dawn Tyler & Paul at the Pennsylvania Blues Festival set the tent stage alight with their soulful and heartfelt renditions of original songs and covers of traditional blues and rock tunes.
What I didn’t realize was their story on how they got there and also anything about them. I was so impressed with their energy and stage presence that I corralled them for some quick chat to share with y’all, enjoy it I know I did.
Dawn Taylor Watson: On goodness it was quite humid and the tent just kept it all underneath – but the towels and spritzers helped.
Paul Des Lauriers: Well, we managed to get here at three in the morning, and still don’t have our luggage or clothing. Hopefully we will have them all by the second set.
B411: That was the rumor going thru, that you had nothing arrive from your plane. What happened.
PD: There was a terrible weather over Detroit, and we got stuck on the tarmac in Omaha for four hours. That was before we could actually take off, but once we got to Detroit all the planes were landing and departing but everything was delayed or canceled which meant that we couldn’t get our flight to Allentown since it was canceled also.
So within twenty minutes I got us on a flight to Newark, but our luggage and gear didn’t make it.
DTW: Yeah, we got here from Newark, NJ at like three in the morning.
B411: How, who drove or limo?
PD: Well thanks to my beautiful girlfriend here who accompanied us on this trip, she drove 100 mph on the turnpike to get us here.
B411: OK I won’t use her photo here we wouldn’t want her arrested (we laugh).
B411: Wow, that would be a good guitar for me, but it just shows us all that it ain’t the guitar it’s the player.
So Dawn, you look great today, these are not your clothes?
DTW: Oh thank you, no I just bought this little thing. Thank God there are concessions here, we got in at three – got some sleep and got up at nine, and pretty much bee running around since.
B411: Smashing my dear, quite fetching.
DTW: Well Laura (Carbone) loaned me some things also, otherwise it would be a stinking mess.
B411: The Blues Framily takes care of one another yet again.
B411: So Paul you play that acoustic guitar like it owes you something. What I mean is that you really play it like it’s an electric. Incredible stuff.
PD: Well I do play the electric. I’d even venture to say that the electric is my main instrument.
PD: As it should be, what happens is that a lot of people are going to see us – an acoustic show and are thinking folk, delicate finger picking and soft stuff – which we do a lot of, and I dig it – but much like an electric guitar you can pull out a lot of notes from it and squeeze out many different sounds from it. I approach it with the same energy that I approach my electric with. I don’t see a difference I am playing it the same way I would play my Les Paul thru a Marshall amp cranked to 10.
B411: To me it’s as close to an electric show but played with an acoustic.
PD: Yeah, people love it, and I like that approach. It sort of developed out of necessity to, part that’s the style I want to play but also out of sheer desperation. I’m the only guy on the stage so I have to be the drummer, the bass player so that’s where the necessity comes in.
B411: You do work a lot of that finger picking styled guitar work in to the show but on the other end you crush that baby when you need to.
PD: We do it all – that’s the neat thing about our show it is that varied. One might think an acoustic duo show would be soft and such, we have those moments but we really rock it out and get loud. I think what we do is very original.
B411: Yes quite so. Now dawn is no slouch vocally either. She can belt it out with the best, but she also can weave a tapestry of sounds that range from Jazz inspired phrasing to taking on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Cold Shot” – which is what first turned me on to ya’s.
PD: We just played in Omaha and our friend introduced us to the audience as one of those rare occasions where 1+1=3 !
DTW: Well put, it was the Playing with Fire Festival. It’s pretty cool, we are the sum of the parts but we also front our own bands also.
PD: Yeh we came together as both front persons and are used to working like that. So when you bring us together its like we are a one/two punch.
B411: You two seem to be somewhat opposite in musical background or direction. Dawn, I know has a penchant for Jazz typed vocals, while you have a rocker styled image.
PD: Yes that’ quite the case, and we meet in the Blues.
B411: Yes the illegitimate child of a forbidden tryst. There is something quite attractive about mixed genres or races they usually turn out really stunning.
PD: (laughing) well if we’re making analogies about records or music as children then that s correct.
People ask what style do you do, I think that Dawn and my backgrounds are so eclectic that we don’t like to limit ourselves to do one thing. We touch Jazz, Rock, Folk, all sorts of Roots music, and, of course Blues and mix it all together – it’s the sum of all of our influences.
B411: You did a version of “Tracks Of My Tears” that was really great. Then Dawn went off on a jazz-scat vocal voyage, just exactly what you said – an amalgam of influences.
DTW: Oh goodness Paul is the ultimate interviewee. I can barely get a word in, perfect!
B411: So do you guys get down across the border often? Last time I saw ya’ was at the IBC’s, and just briefly too.
DTW: Not as much as we’d like. There are always issues with work visas, the amount of time needed to get them in plus the whole legal workings that are always sticklers for details.
PD: I think that both sides make it really difficult for musicians to come across the border and work. These are the only two countries that I don’t like coming home to. You go to Europe they stamp your passport and big you are done. Have a nice day – play some music and than you. Here it’s where have you been, what have you got, a big hassle.
PD: A lot of it is handled by our manager also the ACFM (American Canadian Federation of Musicians) helps us some with some of that.
Note: At this point Ms.Anne Harris came over and we broke down the interview so the artists could spend time together and enjoy each other-that’s how Blues411 rolls.
Please visit their site to learn more about this dynamic duo of Blues/Roots music: http://dawnandpaul.com/
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrive
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411