Julian Dawson is a singer/songwriter based in Somerset, England. To date, he has made 23 albums. His music has taken him around the world, performing on stages in Europe as well as the United States. On May 29 and 30, Dawson will bring his 40 years of performing experience to Washington Island, where he will conduct a two-day songwriting workshop at the Hotel Washington Hotel and Studio.
“I love the job I’ve been doing for 40 years and, much as I enjoy performing and recording, the songs and the writing of them are the main thread that has kept me going all this time,” Dawson wrote to me. “The thrill of starting with a blank page and filling it with thoughts and words that can then be sung forever is still incredibly addictive and rewarding. I realized a while ago that along the way I’ve been privileged to work with some of the songwriting masters and have acquired skills that can be passed on.”
Dawson has experience working in songwriting workshops in Europe, having taught both single-day events in the UK and three different weeklong residential songwriting courses on the continent.
“I don’t think you can teach someone to be a songwriter, but I think I can give tips and help provide a situation where it is possible to make the most of the talents and inspiration people bring with them to the course,” Dawson stated. “As far as the songwriting workshop goes it’s important to remember that we will be learning but also having fun – my conviction is that the best work gets done when everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves. Don’t worry about not being ‘good enough’ – all levels will be welcome.”
The Washington Island workshop covers a wide variety of topics, from finding creativity to the business of music. The all-encompassing nature of the program allows participants to witness and experience the full process of songwriting from beginning to end.
“My sense is that there are a lot of people who either feel moved to try their hand at writing a song or see songwriting as part of their performing ambitions,” Dawson explained. “I think people are interested in all these areas as well as finding out some basic rules about the ‘business’ side of music.”
This is not the first time Dawson has made the journey across Death’s Door.
“I’ve made one previous visit to Washington Island and was knocked out by the atmosphere of creativity and collaboration I found in the community there,” he recalled. “I played a show with the extremely talented Julian Hagen and with almost no preparation had a great concert together, with all the laughter, tears, warmth and fun that make music meaningful – we had a wonderful audience too!”
The duo will perform again at the Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC) on Saturday, May 28. Dawson is returning with his brand new album, Living Good, featuring 12 new songs recorded with Muscle Shoals and producer Dan Penn. He will be premiering some songs from both this new CD as well as revisiting older ones.
“I can guarantee some surprises, too,” Dawson disclosed. “I can’t wait to be back on Washington Island!”
The cost of the workshop is $75. Ferries will be available for those workshop attendees from the mainland who wish to stay for just Sunday night. For those who wish to see the “Two Julians” performance at the TPAC on Saturday night, the Hotel Washington will offer a 10 percent discount for both Saturday and Sunday on a first come, first serve basis.