David Dawson Biography

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PO BOX 1154 • QUESTA, NM 87556 • (575)586-1968 • bearrockstudio@gmail.com

David Dawson is an autoharp aficionado. He recently released a solo album of songs that he wrote called Listen. The songs feature David on the autoharp and musician friends old and new. The songs reflect an eclectic blend of personal and spiritual experiences through David’s rich and distinctive voice. With feelings of old-timey, country and some good old rock and roll, there’s a little something for everybody on Listen.

The autoharp is a unique instrument that has yet to reach its full potential and in the right hands it can come alive and take on a life of it’s own. It becomes a solo instrument and can lend itself to an errie, beautifully angelic accompaniment. In David Dawson’s hands, the autoharp does these things.

David’s love for the autoharp started in 1960 through his good friend, Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna), whose girlfriend had one. Dave’s fingers brushed against the strings and it was love at first sound. He developed a repitorie of songs and became a pioneer in using the autoharp effectively in pop music. Born and raised in Hawaii, David teamed up with Rick Cunha, guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire. They became Dawson & Cunha, playing the club scene on the islands in the early 60s.

A turning point occurred when Rick Cunha and then David moved to Los Angeles. In 1965, music was exploding in LA and the country-folk-rock style was developing and thus became part of the fireworks. David and Rick met Larry Murray at the Troubadour Club and formed Hearts and Flowers. The band was a class act in LA. They did 2 albums under contract with Capital Records, produced by Nic Venet and had a regional hit called “Rock and Roll Gypsies”. Hearts and Flowers worked the LA club scene and hosted “hoot night” at the Troubadour for 2 years. The band shared the stage with Buffalo Springfield, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Arlo Guthrie and many other artists of the time. Their Capital recordings, though very good, had very little success. The band broke up in 1967. David had the opportunity to play with wonderful musicians during his active music career in LA; the likes of Hoyt Axton, Jennifer Warnes, Mason Williams, Linda Ronstadt and many others.

Retiring from music, David raised a family and worked in art restoration for years. In 1992 he moved to Questa, NM. Set up a welding shop, became integrated and well loved in the community and still skis 50 days per year! Few people knew of David’s colorful, music career.

Having made all these changes, he put playing music in the rearview mirror. But he continued to write and the songs came through with gusto. Several years ago, David approached Tim Long and Charles Dillon to record his songs in their recording facility, Bear Rock Studio. Together, they worked diligently on refining arrangements and production. The result is the newly released cd, Listen.

On Listen, the autoharp is the featured instrument. Accompanying David’s rich vocals and autoharp are Charles Dillon, Tim Long, Connie Long, Isaiah Ortega, Rick Cunha and Terry Paul.

The unique instrument like the autoharp knows when it has found it’s place and David’s songs have given it just that. Give it a….Listen!       (available on CDBaby.com and iTunes)

• Quotable Quotes on David Dawson •

“The autoharp is such a wonderful sounding instrument and David makes it sing. I know David to be a warm and friendly guy and I bet his new recording will make you feel the same way and probably make you want to sing. Thanks David for your wonderful music.”

Byron Beline, fiddle, Guthrie, OK

“I’ve only known Dave for about five or six years, but it seems like we’ve been friends for a lifetime.  His approach to the music is true to the old form, with knowledge and respect for those singers who, in years long past,  have shown the way.  Dave’s voice tells the tale of lonely mountain cabins, dry and dusty gulches, wind-swept pines and hallowed stone canyons.  Always a pleasure to listen to!”

Peter Feldman, mandolin, Santa Barbara, CA

“Playing music with Dave has always been one of my great pleasures and I always look forward to our time together. Dave has blossomed as a songwriter and has channeled his spiritual side in this new album. We’ve been partners for 50 years now, a partnership that continues still.” 

Rick Cunha, guitar, engineer, producer, Van Nuys, CA

“Supporting Arlo Guthrie on the bill was the very able Hearts and Flowers of “Rock n’ Roll Gypsies” fame. The strongest factor of the group is the sound they get from their little monster of an autoharp virtuoso, David Dawson. He’s really able to draw some unearthly harp effects from his simple strumming instrument.”

LA Times, 1966

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