He's the Dawg!

As promised, I was able to catch up with Kelowna’s hardest working Bluesman, Poppa Dawg.  Last week, in “Under The Lights” we were introduced to this humble musician who expresses himself through the tried and true musical excursion of the pure Blues.  His, is a journey into the Memphis Blues, textured with genuine soul searching vocals.  As soon as he touches that guitar, the emotions just seem to pour out, and then comes that aged whiskeyed voice—deep and measured. And measured he is, a man that possesses a Vision, but has no illusions—and in this day and age, being a self-employed musician is much harder than it was say, twenty years ago:  Here are some thoughts from Rick, himself:

On being a self-employed musician and independent Recording Artist-the pitfalls and benefits:

Poppa Dawg: “Depends on how you look at it. There is no security at all but there is something more important to me, freedom. This business is not for the timid and you can’t take everything personally, it is just business but at time that can be difficult as we are human beings and therefore we come with our own issues such as insecurity. Playing for a living is getting easier and more difficult at the same time. We have easier access to information and ways of dispersing it via social media but now so does every other artist out there so now you have everyone looking for the same gigs. It may not be for everyone but I wouldn’t change it even if I could, it is my life.”

 Yes, it certainly is his life…just look at what he has recorded since the turn of the century:

Poppa Dawg:Currently, I have 4. Here they are!
Dogskin Suit - ’Diggin’ Up The Yard’ - All original music - 1999
Dogskin Suit - ‘Growlin’ At The Gator’ - Covers of fans favs - 2002
Poppa Dawg - ‘Same Dog, New Suit’ - All original music - 2005
Poppa Dawg - ‘What You Got’ - All original music save for 1 – 2013”
…and true to his calling, Rick is currently involved in…”- I have been co-writing some music with a friend in Vancouver and writing bits of ideas all over the place. I have quite literally thousands of pieces of paper, notes, books, cassette tapes(remember those?) and a hard drive of ideas and also a ton of ideas on my iPod, iPhone and iPad. No new CD until next year though but plans are in the works!”

Yes, Rick…I certainly remember cassette tapes!...do you have a certain method of recording? 

Poppa Dawg:  “Always live off the floor. It gets the music across better if we are all providing energy to it at the same time.”

Energy?, he has it in gallons—and he constantly draws on his influences—the Blues Masters: 

Poppa Dawg: “ Musically and guitar wise it is - Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dr John, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, Elvis, Howlin’ Wolf, Brian Setzer, Freddie King etc!”…and, of course, I had to ask Rick how on earth did he get his moniker!?....” A very good friend of mine, Ross Nielsen, was playing bass for me some 20 years ago when I had the band Dogskin Suit. He would come in to the gig and say “Hey Poppa Dawg.” I asked him why he called me that and he told me that the band was Dogskin Suit and I was the poppa. After hearing it, folks started calling me that. In grocery stores, gas stations, everywhere and I would look at them wondering who the hell they were talking to. It was me! I thought, well, I guess if they’re gonna call me that I may as well use it. Thanks Ross! Ross is truly one of the hardest working musicians I know and he tours across Canada 2 times a year from New Brunswick to Van Isle. Love that guy!”

Rick is a true troubadour, a musician that is no stranger to the road—reaching out across the country with his memorable blues-tinged music that will resonate long after you have seen him perform.  He continues to push forward, exploring the fertile plains of the North American blues and rock—in asking him about future road work, he mentioned how playing in a particular place recently had…” Last year we went down to Memphis to represent BC at the IBCs, the International Blues Challenge, and made it to the semi-finals. Great to see that our music went over so well down there and we had one of the best musical experiences of my life. Memphis changed me.”  Obviously, this year we will be able to hear some of those changes—this year, any roadwork planned? “Not much road work this year. We are going to Vancouver Island, Calgary and Edmonton.”

In Kelowna and the Okanagan, we are certainly blessed with great musical Talent, I asked Rick his thoughts on the local scene…”- There is a ton of talent here!! We have talent up the wazoo but what we need are more venues for them to play at!”…now, there’s that humbleness again, and generosity—recognising the immense talent that is in the area, and wishing for everyone that there were more places for them to play in!....Thanks Rick, it was an honour to have this conversation!

Check out Rick’s web site: www.poppadawg.com  

Under The Lights

Upcoming Club/Concert Highlights:

The Blue Gator: (Wednesday Night Blues with Poppa Dawg-every Wednesday)    Young ‘Uns:  April 17th   The Goods:   Apr. 18th   Jimmy LeGuilloux Band:  Apr. 19th   Zamboni Brothers:  Apr. 24th /Apr. 25th  & 26th

Doc Willoughby’s Downtown Pub:  Rude City Riot:  April 18th   Wild Son:  Apr. 19th                                                    The Rockies & Deluge:  Apr. 25th

O’Flannigan’s Pub: Papa Wheely: Apr. 25th

Notable Concerts:  

Kelowna Community Theatre:    Johnny Clegg Band:  April 27th   

Konquer Motorcycles:  Loverboy:  May 31st 2014

South Okanagan Events Centre (Penticton):     Kenny Rogers:   June 12th

Funtastic: (Vernon)  Nazareth:   June 27th 

Prospera Place:  Heart:  June 28th

Kenny Shields & Streetheart:   July 18th at Summer Stomp  (Sicamous)

  …if you have a musical story or news and would like me to write something… drop me a line at:  [email protected]  and let’s celebrate Kelowna’s rich and varied music community together!!

More Under the Lights articles

About the Author

We call him the Professor of Rock: With a career in music, television and media arts spanning 30 years, Atkinson knows music. He's traveled as a professional musician and he loves Rock 'N Roll. He is a music journalist who writes internationally for Frontier Records' Melodic Rock magazine and he owns FBA International a multifaceted management, consulting, promotional entity.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories