Mark Dawson is a local musician with many local and national accolades. He travels all over the world performing, and has a successful radio show called, “Making Noise With Mark Dawson”. This Orlando based performer and recording artist has been kind enough to allow me to interview him many times, and this time he talks about his most important and very special job of being a father.
Q: First of all, please tell us all about the new CD that is coming out.
A: This new CD is something a little bit different. I assembled my favorite musicians from the Orlando area and "handpicked" who I thought would work together very well together. We rehearsed together only twice, just to get a feel of the songs that I wanted them to play. The plan was to do a live performance over the radio. And we did, sort of by the skin of our teeth. What a thrill.
After listening through the tapes of the live recordings, we found there was a lot of good material. Just raw rock music. But it had a lot of life to it. So we thought why not refine these tracks, adjust levels, tweak tones, etc., and turn this into a CD. We even added a few bonus songs. So on June 24, "One Saturday Night" by Mark Dawson and the Kings of Snack will be released.
Q: What other new projects are brewing, and what is on tap for this summer? Will you be touring with the Grass Roots again this summer for the Happy Together Tour?
A: I've always got something new in the works, at least somewhere in the back of my head. Right now, I've got a solo acoustic concert idea that I'm toying with. There will be more about that soon. I'm always on tour with the Grass Roots. Whatever venue or whatever town wants to hear us, we're there. This summer we will be in Troy, New York, San Diego, California, Owensboro Kentucky, Deadwood, South Dakota, on and on and on. However, we will not be part of the Happy Together Tour this summer. So look for the band to return in 2015.
Q: How have things expanded with your radio show? What have you been most pleased with about that so far? What are your favorite stories, and how has that changed life for you on a daily basis? Is there a large amount of work that goes into putting together a program?
A: The radio show has become a real part of me. I'm 18 months into this thing now and I can honestly say that I look forward to each and every Thursday night. Like a kid going to a ballgame or something like that... it's fun. The fan base has really increased. We have listeners literally all over the world. I'm so thankful that WOGR gave me a chance to do what I do.
I put about 20 hours a week in of my own work. I mean it's not like I just go on the Air and play bunch of songs. I really think about the content. I try to do funny bits, or at least talk about various subjects somewhat intelligently. But I do prepare for about 20 hours each week. It's my part-time job, ha ha.
Q: The primary purpose for this interview is to find out about your life as a musician and a father. How have you been able to balance your career with your family life all of these years?
A: First and foremost, my wife has been my biggest supporter since day one. She's never told me ‘no, you can't do that’. She's always pushed me to do more things. That is the big difference right there. There are plenty of musicians who don't get support from their wife or family. Without her I probably would've bailed out on music a long time ago. She is a rock.
Q: What have been the biggest struggles for you in this department? How have you overcome them with a busy work and travel schedule? Did you ever feel like you were missing out on your daughter's big moments?
A: I have missed out on a few special moments, yes. And each time there's a certain feeling of guilt that you harbor inside you. But at the same time you know you're doing what you have to do. I will say that overall, I've been pretty lucky to not miss the "major" events. Including most recently, my daughter's college graduation. That was epic. [We are] so proud, so happy for her. [It was] a great family moment. Graduating from college was just huge. My wife and I both were bursting with pride. It was one of those rare ‘wow’ moments that you experience in life. Certainly something we will never forget. We kept reminding ourselves that we created this wonderful human being. What a reward. She is an amazing person. In addition to watching her graduate, we were also able to witness her work at an art exhibition in Boston the day before her graduation. That was pretty cool. Kind of like going to the Rock 'n’ Roll Hall of Fame, only with your daughters art in it. Nice.
Q: Has your daughter fully understood and appreciated your success as a musician? Has she always been into your music and supportive? Did she ever go through the typical teenage phase of being embarrassed by you- especially considering that you are in the public eye and onstage? Was it hard for her to understand your career, or has she always been extremely proud of it?
A: My daughter has always understood what I do. When she was little, I mean like three years old, I would bring her up onstage and just let her look around and see the audience. She didn't really want to sing or anything like that, she was just interested in what was going on in the room around her. That was always fun. As she got into her preteen years I don't think she understood that her father actually made money by playing music, she just told her friends "my dad plays in a band". These days, she thinks it's pretty cool. Mostly because she just tells her friends to look up my music on Spotify, or iTunes, which I think is totally hip.
Q: Do you have any regrets throughout the years? Was there any one particular moment that you missed out on that you wished you hadn't, or is there something you wish you had done differently for your daughter and family?
A: I can't really think of any particular moment or event that I regret. Like I said earlier, I chose this profession, this lifestyle, this direction. My family backed me up all the way and still does back me up. How can I regret any of that? I'll admit we do have trouble trying to arrange any sort of vacation. But we were able to pull one off this year. Big time!
Q: What decisions are you most proud of making as a father? What do you think you've done really well, and what are your strengths as a dad?
A: We never had to make a lot of decisions regarding what to do with our daughter. I mean outside of what school to send her to when she was young, that sort of thing. Our philosophy on raising a child was to let her be herself as much as possible, and to let us be her guides. We made suggestions, and we did everything we could to accommodate all the things she wanted to do or to try. But we never forced anything on her. It's just something we made a conscious effort to not do.
Q: How has being a musician given you an advantage as a father, or what paternal skills do you credit to your craft? Do you think that the flexibility that is required of a musician has helped you to adapt to the different circumstances and stages that come with parenthood?
A: Now that one is way too deep. Ha ha. I don't think being a musician gave me any sort of advantage as far as being a father. There are certain things you learn from being in a band that you perhaps can apply to your family. Mostly ‘getting along’ type situations. But really, we never had much drama in our family. It just wasn't there. Just another thing that I'm very thankful for.
Q: What advice would you give to other busy fathers who often struggle with the balance between providing for the family and spending time with the family? What has helped you throughout the years?
A: You always miss your family when you're away. And I always say 'busy is good'. Just concentrate on the job at hand. Stay focused and it works out. Fortunately, these days you have cell phones, face time, texting, etc. [These are] all very helpful with staying in touch with your family. When I started, we had phone booths- and the long distance charges that would be applied to calls were outrageous!
Q: What advice would you like to give your daughter as she is embarking on her newest chapter in life?
A: I've already given her that advice; when choosing a job/career be sure you do something you love. If you don't love it, stop doing it. And be sure you laugh at least once every day.
Q: Of all of the things you have done throughout your life, what is your most shining moment personally?
A: Winning a second place ribbon in my third-grade science fair. Oh, and also having the greatest family that anyone could ever ask for. Really, I am the luckiest guy in the world.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
A: It doesn't matter whether you're a father or a mother or a brother or a daughter or a son or a sister. Look for the best in people and try to enjoy every day.
Mark has given us all some very good advice, and we look forward to his upcoming CD and projects. Thank you to Mark, and to all of the wonderful fathers out there who make such a difference in their children’s lives each and every day. Happy Father’s Day!