For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it’s that time of year again. Time to plan your club and arena concerts, and generally hibernate into your playlists.
There’s one band I met during that distant memory that is summer music festival season that has taken up permanent residence on my playlist for the year to come: The Dunwells.
After seeing them live I was hooked—and I’m not the only one. The first time The Dunwells hit American shores was at the 2011 International Folk Alliance conference, and they immediately started making waves: “Anyone that’s seen them has just been ‘Oh My God!’ They’re mind boggling!” raves Louis Jay Meyers, Executive Director of the Folk Alliance to Voice of America radio.
That gig had many upsides, like how the lads were signed with Austin-based label Playing In Traffic Records, but it had one downside: The Dunwells were incorrectly labelled a folk band—a myth that follows them around to this day.
“The reason why we went to the folk festival was because we had one song with a banjo in it,” laughs Joseph.
“It’s really heavy, like 13, 14 pounds heavy,” says Dave, in reference to the banjo.
“Sometimes we wonder why Dave Dunwell picked it up in the practice room,” says Joseph, “because for this one song—I mean I love playing the song—but we play it once a night every night, and we play it last in the set. And we always wonder why Dave Dunwell picked that up.”
“So we kind of got branded with that iron,” says David, “but I’d say it’s just rock and roll, or indie rock and roll, British indie music.”
And trust me, after seeing them live, they rock out hard.
That song with the banjo is “I Could be A King,” a beautiful inspiring track with positive messages of resilience and reaching for your dreams. But the message goes beyond personal goals, to affect even larger positive change in the world.
“On a trip from London, we were talking about protests in and around England and the U.S. and how the common working man seems to be really struggling. That led us to a montage concept for ‘I Could Be A King,’ wanting to magnify how a simple idea can generate a massive change and how one steadfast person can inspire the world. An every day person can be heroic,” says Joseph in the YouTube description of the video.
The track is off their first full-length album Blind Sighted Faith, recorded at the famous Pedernales studio, owned by Willie Nelson. “It was an experience. It was quite something,” says Joseph. “Great studio, great microphones, great atmosphere and I’m happy with the way it’s turned out. I’m quite proud of it.”
And they should be. Not only did it get the attention of fans in the UK, but also that of audiences in the US, culminating in a guest appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
“The whole day was over in seconds,” Joseph tells me of the experience. “They gave us three dressing rooms, we’ve never had three dressing rooms. Sometimes if we go to venues that don’t have a dressing room, we stand in the pub or the club that we’re playing at, so to have three dressing rooms we freaked out–we all sat in one dressing room.”
Watch their Tonight Show performance below, and if you can, catch these guys in concert (tour dates here), because that’s really where they do their thing well. You could say it’s Dunwell.
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The Dunwells are composed of brothers Joseph (vocals, guitar) and David Dunwell (guitar, piano, banjo) along with cousins Jonny Lamb (vocals, drums) and Rob Clayton (bass) and rounded out by longtime best friend Dave Hanson (guitar, pedal steel).
Find the Dunwells online: