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L.A. Beat

Steve Dawson channels the spirit of the Mississippi Sheiks

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Well respected Canadian blues and roots record producer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson is excited about bringing his musical tribute to ’30s Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson will be playing Mississippi Sheiks music, Feb. 2. Photo by Richard Ameryblues icons the Mississippi Sheiks to Lethbridge, Feb. 2 at the Southminster United Church.
“ I used to collect their records when I was young. Quite a few blues musicians were influenced by them,” Dawson said.
“They used to play really loud, fast and furious and aggressive because they were a full band and this was before sound sound systems,” he continued.

 Dawson, a backing band plus Del Ray, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jim Byrnes will all be playing their favourite Sheiks songs. The Mississippi Sheiks mostly recorded during the 1930s, but influenced many a blues musician with their blend of delta blues, ragtime, jazz and several other genres.
“ They were truly a magnificent band, but they were completely forgotten for some reason,”  he said.
So back in 2009, the long time fan decided to make a record of a dozen of his favourite artists  recording some of their favourite Sheiks songs.

 “This tour is an extension of that project,” he said adding they are only touring  for two weeks with the project.
He chose these particular musicians becuase he felt they best captured the essence of the Sheiks’ diversity.

“Del Rey plays their Ragtime and jazzy number and plays amazing guitar and ukulele, Alvin Youngblod Hart plays the delta blues. Jim Byrnes is an amazing player. I just sort of float around between them,” Dawson said. He will also be singing lead on a few songs as well as helping drive the band.
“ It will be kind of like a folk festival workshop. Between us we can cover what they were doing back in the day,” he continued.
“There will definitely be some collaborating on stage,” he said.

“ We want to make sure the music is fresh and fun,” he said promising a lot of improvisation on the songs.,
“We’re going to have to do a lot of improvisation. So it’s very hard to predict what will happen,” he said.

“ I love this kind of show. Have  all of these musicians on stage at the same time is right up my alley.”

They aren’t going to prepare a set list, but will have about 20 Mississippi Sheiks numbers ready to play.
“It’s not difficult. It’s not like they had 100 songs to choose from.”

 They are not going to be doing this tour again as all of the musicians have their own solo careers.
“We’d like to do it again, but there are no plans to do it.,” he said adding they need to feel the need to do it again.

 Tickets for the show cost  $47.50. The doors open at 7 p.m. with this special Geomatic Attic presentation starting at 8 p.m.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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