Mike Dawes, 24, is an English fingerstyle guitarist known for his intricate playing technique and multi-layered acoustic covers of popular songs. This Sunday, Dawes and his fingers of fury will be gracing Beirut for one night only, courtesy of Beirut Jam Sessions. Beirut.com got in touch with the young virtuoso before his upcoming performance for some one-on-one.


(Photo via Facebook)

Beirut.com: How did you hook up with Beirut Jam Sessions for your upcoming performance in Beirut?

Dawes: Beirut Jam Sessions were actually one of the first groups to support my music overseas. They contacted me a few years ago via e-mail inviting me to perform in Beirut. I'm happy to say that my schedule finally allowed me to come and play. Sorry it took so long!

Beirut.com: While some people would learn one instrument then move on to another, you chose to stick to guitar all the way and master it comprehensively. What made you take that path in your music?

Dawes: I've always loved the sound of the guitar, especially the acoustic guitar. There are so many textures and tones one can produce from the instrument, it seems almost limitless. I listened to a lot if guitar bands growing up, I guess it got stuck in my head!

Beirut.com: Your performance technique does not look like a walk in the park. Do you have any exercises or rituals you do to keep your hands and fingers flexible and agile, and your hand-eye coordination sharp and precise?

Dawes: Practice makes perfect. I know it sounds like a cliché, but what seems impossible today, may seem possible tomorrow. I'm always exercising my hands on my car’s steering wheel, tapping along to music and coming up with new rhythmic ideas, much like a percussionist, rather than a guitarist I suppose.

Beirut.com: You've come to be known for your acoustic re-imaginings of popular songs, most famously Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know. Is there a composition or song that you've always wanted to adapt for the guitar in your own style but still haven’t gotten around to?

Dawes: Don't Stop Believing by Journey. One day!



Beirut.com: Your music can be quietly appreciated, when it is steady and contemplative, as well as danced to, when it is upbeat and groovy. What kind of concert-going experience should someone looking to attend your performances be in for?

Dawes: I try to give my concerts a rock vibe. I move around much more than many traditional players and love to fool around on stage. The show is as accessible to a younger crowd as it is an older audience, and I seem to attract a huge age range which is great; everyone takes away different favorite memories! If you could take away one word from the show, I hope it would be 'fun'.

Beirut.com: Somewhere right now, a guitarist has just let out a sigh of defeat after watching one of your YouTube videos. What words of advice would you offer up-and-coming musicians?

Dawes: Ha, well hopefully people would be inspired to continue playing! One piece of advice would be to never underestimate the emotional value of music. Many players get lost in a whirlwind of fancy techniques but forget that music is to be listened to, not to be watched. The song always comes first.

For more on Mike Dawes’ work visit his official website and keep up with him on Facebook.

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