Roar Electra. Now there’s an
intriguing title, one that connotes ferocity and eclecticism. Those are two
words that conjure up thoughts of strength and finesse, of arty intricacies
tempered by no-nonsense musicianship. Those two words also happen to be the
title of Mike Dawson’s eighth studio album.
Dawson, a respected Texas singer, songwriter, producer,
vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, also named his current band Roar Electra, an intrepid gang of
talented musicians. Roar Electra features co-producer Taylor Tatsch (guitar,
bass, background vocals), Greg Dugan (drums, percussion), Stephan Page
(violins), and Dawson on lead vocals, keyboards, and guitars.
Roar Electraalso sports
guests Michael Markley, Kirk Powers and Rick Read on bass. Dawson’s New Rage
horn section consists of Kim Corbet (trombone), Steve Howard (trumpet), Larry
Spencer (trumpet), Lee Schloss (saxophones) and Mitch Paliga (saxophones).
saxophone legend Paliga, Dawson’s lifelong friend, wrote the stunning horn
arrangement for the album single “Patriot.” Chris Schaff played drums on
“Patriot,” while trumpet virtuoso Keith Jourdan impressed with a stellar horn
solo. The topper on “Patriot” comes in the form of beautiful vocals from
call Roar Electra ambitious
is quite the understatement. Dawson penned all the tunes, some were written
during the recording process while others span a decade of conception. Roar Electra bridges the gap separating
rock from classical, its sophistication bested only by its unbridled passion.
There’s even a four movement classical-influenced suite “Per Aspera Ad Astra”
that harks to Dawson’s love of science, space travel and atmospheric film and
Dawson with assistance and plenty of creative ingenuity by Tatsch (Shadows of
Jets, Cut Throat Finches, Gollay), Roar Electra helps
Dawson come full circle.“Roar Electra represents
a return to my rock roots,” says Dawson. “I think these are the best songs I've
ever written, and having Taylor Tatsch playing brilliantly in the studio has
been inspiring. I even broke one of his guitars and he didn't kill me. Now
My eighth album is a celebration of my fifteen years recording albums for your enjoyment. It was hard to pick out the tunes but here they are. Visit ReverbNation now to get your first listen of a very big blast from my past. Tell your friends! Peace and Love - Mike
A conversation with Mike Dawson of Dallas jazz-R&B duo Dawson & Lazo
by Mario Taradell, Music Critic
The Dallas Morning News
Dallas duo Mike Dawson and Lisa Lazo bring a Steely Dan musical sensibility to the 21st century. (Texas World Music )
Mike Dawson trekked his way to Dallas after growing up in Wisconsin,
Michigan and New Mexico. He settled in these parts after earning an
electronics engineering degree from DeVry University. He’s been here for
about two decades, most of it as a music teacher, performing and
recording musician and singer-songwriter. Dawson, 50, led rock ‘n’ roll
big band Dawson’s New Rage through four CDs and nearly 10 years
(1999-2008). In 2006 he joined creative forces with singer-songwriter
Lisa Lazo. The pair released the 6-song Dawson & Lazo EP in May.
There’s a jazzy, R&B and pop vibe to the Dawson &
Lazo six-song EP. If this were the 1970’s, we’d be calling it Steely
Dan. What part of that sound most appeals to you – the jazz, the
R&B, the pop or the mixture of all three?
Oh, most definitely the fusion of all those styles. My background as a
piano player has allowed me to delve into all of those styles. The
Steely Dan analogy is perfect because it reflects the fusion of all
those styles that we find in the American songbook.
In an era when radio-ready popular music is so immediate, so
fleeting and so incredibly disposable, unfortunately, is there still
room for sophisticated musicianship, smooth vocals and songs devoid of
Because the industry is so fragmented, the way you and I would think
of radio is as simply broadcasts, the type of radio that is only through
the air. With all the new technologies people seek the music they want
to hear. They have to dig more for it. You have to go to the websites.
You have to go to the YouTube pages. It might take people more time to
find the music that we make. With the jazz influence, that music is
certainly not mainstream anymore. If you look for that music, it’s
because you love true American jazz style.
You are a music educator teaching piano, guitar, voice,
synthesizer and songwriting, to name a few. What do you see in your
students that you would call inspirational? When I teach kids, kids that love to make music and they have no fear of
making mistakes, that is inspirational. When you can help adults
recapture that sense of being like a kid, that is inspirational as well.
This is why I have been an educator pretty much my whole adult life.
With a degree in electronics engineering, and having worked
in Texas, Malaysia and Singapore, are you happy to return to music
Yes. I’m a much calmer person, instead of having to always tow the
line. That was a great experience to have those responsibilities to
learn how to run businesses, but once I stopped being creative … it was
the management side of it that I didn’t enjoy. I am much happier as a
musician for sure.
How does the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene support a performing and recording entity like Dawson & Lazo?
Because the Metroplex is such a large and diverse place, there are a
lot of opportunities to try your music out and perform it. Texas is
always a place of creativity for musicians. You can use the Metroplex as
a home base but just about every musician that I know, you tour and
perform. Texas is always home base, but you wouldn’t want to derive a
career by just one city.