Chicago quintet Dolly Varden is built around the singing and songwriting of husband and wife duo Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen, along with Mark Balletto on guitar, Matt Thobe on drums and Mike Bradburn on bass. Though the band’s name suggests a euphonious connection to a certain country singer, it is actually derived from a rare and beautiful species of trout which in turn was named after a character in Charles Dickens’ short novel ‘Barnaby Rudge‘. Strange, but true: Dawson and Christiansen both had fathers who were avid fishermen who dreamed of one day catching the elusive Dolly Varden in an icy Alaskan lake.
In 2008 Dolly Varden celebrated the 13th anniversary of their debut album, Mouthful of Lies, by releasing a limited-edition 2-CD set, 13, (disc 1: The Best of Dolly Varden, Disc 2:Rarities) and hosting a sold out show at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music with special guests Lisa Wertman Crowe, Robbie Fulks, Edward Burch and others. In 2009 and 2010 the group stayed close to home and played just a handful of shows as Dawson focused on his second solo album, I Will Miss The Trumpets and the Drums, and Christiansen focused on a large art installation project, “Notes To Nonself” with collaborator Shoshanna Utchenik. The band is currently writing and arranging new songs.
Funeral Bonsai Wedding is Steve Dawson's new project with Frank Rosaly on drums, Jason Roebke on bass and Jason Adasiewicz on vibraphone.