Peter Dawson would simply be known as “The Voice” if Vern Gosdin hadn’t already locked that nickname up. Peter is a true pro and class act who’s been at the game that is known as the “music biz” since a young age. With a wealth of talent and a keen business acumen Mr. Dawson is poised to become a big name in Texas, the south and beyond. Check out what Peter’s up to in this edition of 20 Questions.
1. What’s new with the Peter Dawson Band?
Right now we’re launching a new website, and we’re hitting the summer touring schedule hot and heavy. I’m also spending a lot of time writing new songs.
2. What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever had?
A high school graduation in Waco. They HATED country music, and that’s all we had to play. It was a very long night.
3. Name association:
-Cory Morrow: Spontaneous
-Kevin Fowler: Fun-lovin Redneck
-Randy Rogers: Roommate
-Jason Boland: Wild man
-Jackson Taylor: Jackass Taylor
-Wade Bowen: Great band
-Roger Creager: Great show
-Pat Green: The best
4. What, in your opinion, is the most rewarding thing about being a professional musician?
People singing the words to your own songs—the crowd singing the words. And just being able to sing in front of an audience.
5. Ever given any thought of switching careers for a day with your brother Phil Dawson, who’s a NFL placekicker with the Cleveland Browns?
No, but I’ve thought about swapping paychecks! I’m very proud of my brother. I look up to him for a lot of reasons.
6. You are regarded as having one of the best voices in the scene. Have you ever taken lessons? Can anyone else in your family sing?
My mom can sing, and growing up I used to take voice lessons. My parents really supported me and my music growing up. My brother can sing, but he’s too shy to do it in front of a crowd.
7. Stories behind the following songs; either how/why they were written or how you decided to cover them:
-Do You Don’t Or Do You Do: I didn’t write that song. That was a song that was brought to me when I was interning up in Nashville. I just thought it was a good beer drinking song.
-Willie Nelson For President: I wrote that song after seeing Willie play for the first time. It was at the original Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman and he and Kris Kristofferson were doing a Townes Van Zandt tribute. I walked by Willie’s merch after the show, and saw a t-shirt that said “Willie Nelson for President, Poodie Locke for Vice.” I went home that night and wrote the song.
-Change the Things I Can: I just wrote that with a friend of mine, John Henderson. Just with the basic idea of that I can’t change the world, I can just do what I can do. I’m just one person, you know, and I’ll just do what I can.
-It Ain’t Texas: I wrote that song with my best friend and roommate in college, Mark Davis. He was from Kansas City, MO, and one night we were driving from Dallas to Nashville and we wrote that song because we were going to college in Tennessee but we just loved Texas. This song is very special to me because Mark passed away in a car wreck a year ago April. He was an incredible songwriter and friend. My Coupland Live CD is dedicated to him.
-Crazy About You: I wrote the song for my girlfriend Elisabeth after making her mad one day. I couldn’t afford to take her out to eat or get her flowers, so I resorted to writing a song for her. Thankfully, it worked!
-No More Lies: Jason Boland wrote that song, and he just thought I’d do a good job of it. I’m honored to sing it.
-Clay Pigeons: That song was written by Blaze Foley. Again, Jason told me about it—sang it for me. Blaze Foley was a homeless guy that borrowed a guitar to do one recording at the Austin Outhouse. He was murdered shortly after, but his CD is just a timeless treasure.
8. You were an intern at a studio in Nashville. What was the worst part of that job? The best part of that job?
The best part of the job was getting to hear these very talented musicians day in and day out. The worst part was…that the studio was in Nashville.
9. Ten albums everyone should own.
Drew Kennedy–Hillbilly Pilgrim
Randy Rogers–Like It Used to Be
Wade Bowen–Blue Light Live
Pat Green–Wave on Wave
Guy Clark–Dublin Blues
Johnny Cash–The Man Comes Around
Heartworn Highway DVD
Anything by Townes Van Zandt
Cross Canadian Ragweed–Purple
10. Favorite touring memory of the following towns/clubs.
-Ft. Worth: I used to play at Woody’s with my buddy Mark Davis that I mentioned earlier. That was just awesome and that place will always be special to me because we played there.
-San Angelo: Drinking beer at Blaine’s.
–Lubbock: When all the Stragglers and Brandon Rhyder’s band showed up and sat in with us. It was a great crowd, and so fun having friends come play with us.
–Houston: Playing at the Firehouse with Jason Boland. He’s one of my good friends. I keep talking about him so much it sounds like I have a man crush on him, doesn’t it? Well I don’t. Ha!
-Amarillo: Opening up for Pat Green for the first time at the Brick House.
-New Braunfels: Getting to play with Asleep at the Wheel at Gruene Hall.
-Gruene Hall: See above.
–Firehouse: See Houston.
-Executive Surf Club: Doing the Roger Creager songwriter tour a couple of years ago. Me, Django, Randy, Roger, and many more.
–Coupland: Recording our live CD there.
-Midnight Rodeo-Austin: Our first headlining date, my brother and his wife got us a tour bus. We had a heck of a time.
11. You got your start on the opry circuit. Did you ever play the Johnnie High Revue or run into Lee Ann Rimes coming up?
Yes, I did play the Johnnie High Country Music Revue. Lee Ann Rimes was very nice, extremely talented.
12. If you ran a major label, aside from yourself, who’d be your first signing and why?
Wade Bowen. He’s just got it all together: his songs are great, his voice is great, and his band is awesome.
13. What artist/s have you not worked with yet that you would like to?
Robert Earl Keen. Lyle Lovett. David Segrest.
14. If Willie really did run for president who should be his running mate?
5. Favorite vacation spot.
Graham, Texas. Possum Kingdom Lake.
16. Tell us about your band. Who plays what and how long have they been with you?
Brooks Robinson has been with me for over two years. He’s my drummer, road manager and best friend. Josh Hamilton has been with the band almost a year, and is just a great guitar player and friend. Eric Lenington has been with us for about 6 months; he adds a lot with his diverse influences on the bass.
17. Rapid Fire:
-West Texas or East Texas: West
-Rangers or Astros: Rangers
-Jerry Jones or Mack Brown: Major Applewhite
-Fiddle or Steel Guitar: Fiddle
-Beer or whiskey: Beer. The band won’t let me drink whiskey anymore.
18. Where do you see your career in 5 years? 10 Years?
There’s no way to tell. As long as I’m able to make music that I feel is good and with who I feel is good, I’ll just ride this roller coaster and see where it goes.
19. Favorite George Strait song.
“Blame it on Mexico”
20. Compare/contrast the music you and your peers are making down here in Texas with the stuff the major labels in Nashville are pumping out.
Down here, it’s music first, and up there, it’s marketing first. The thing that they don’t understand is without the song, there’s nothing. Everything revolves around the songs down here, and that’s the way it should be.