Dawn Shipley and the Sharp Shoot

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					Dawn Shipley and the Sharp Shooters, an award winning Los Angeles based band, have a
sound that is unique and inspiring, bringing in new fans each time they play. There is
one good reason for this—darn good music. The music is mostly upbeat and fun, a
mixture of rockabilly, hillbilly and rock-n-roll with elements of traditional rhythm and
blues, jazz and honky tonk. The songs generally tell stories of love and loss, some
humorously, some not so humorously. Overall, the stories are ones that most anyone can
identify with, but written with Dawn’s quirky twist, which keeps each of them from being
just another love song.

The vocal stylings of this Texas-born and raised sweetheart are strong and warm,
blending her own emotion and personality with stylings of Patsy Cline, Janis Martin,
Barbara Pittman, Connie Francis and more. Dawn was raised in a musical family where
she learned to sing and play piano early on in life. Before she can remember, she was
singing in church choir. Her grandmother had a piano and gave her instructional books,
teaching her a few key lessons (where middle “C” was, etc), and Dawn took off with it,
playing as much as she possibly could. She generally got into playing classical, as that is
what was at her disposal, though her love of singing was still in the forefront, and she
wrote what she considers silly little songs throughout her childhood.

It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that Dawn found her true love musically. Though her mom
loved Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty and the likes as she was growing up, she shunned
these artists, trying to find her own likes in the musical world. After getting bored with
the industrial and alternative styles she was currently listening to, Dawn finally stumbled
upon some good roots music in Austin, Texas, her stomping ground at the time. The
people she met through the bands she started seeing on a weekly basis opened up a new
world, and brought her back to the country artists she had initially shunned. Her eyes
were re-opened to everything she’d been brought up with, and she saw things in a new
light, feeling more at home with the music than ever, at home enough that Dawn
describes the time in her life as finding her place in the world. Other early styles of
music where introduced to her as well, including western swing, bluegrass, rhythm and
blues, hillbilly and rockabilly. Dawn quickly emerged herself in 78 rpm records and
learning as much as possible about her new musical world. With her musical
background, it was only a matter of time until she started writing and playing her own
material, though doing it in public was a little more difficult!

She did, however, start sitting in with the local Austin bands such as Teri Joyce, Roger
Wallace, T Jarrod Bonta, Dale Watson, and Marti Brom, in places like Ginny’s Little
Longhorn (a place which defines the Austin honky-tonk music scene), Ego’s, Jovita’s,
and the Continental Club. But it wasn’t until a move to Los Angeles, California in 2000,
that Dawn finally was ready to really open herself up to the world. She found a few guys
willing to help her out, and the rest is history.

Dawn Shipley and the Sharp Shooters played their first show (under a slightly different
name) at a 4th of July house party in 2001, then moved to opening for the Paladins the
following September. That was the start of a career that had them playing all of the local
LA hotspots—The Derby, The Dollhut, Crazy Jack’s, the Rumble Bar, the Devil’s
Punchbowl, etc. They moved on to play shows in Seattle (Seattle’s annual Shake the
Shack Rockabilly Ball 2 years in a row), Las Vegas (Viva Las Vegas 7), San Francisco,
Phoenix, Chicago (American Music Festival), Detroit, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Portland,
San Antonio and more, and they are scheduled for the 2007 Green Bay Rockin’ 50s Fest.
They have shared the stage with acts such as Rosie Flores, Roger Wallace, Big Sandy,
James Intveld, Deke Dickerson, Wanda Jackson, Lee Rocker, Glen Glenn, Robert
Gordon, and more.

Their first cd, “Step It Up” (Shot O’Clock Records), was released in 2003. It was an
adventure in live recording at the accomplished Mark Neill’s studio in San Diego. Mark
did a wonderul job of giving the songs a very raw and traditional feel. The sound is raw,
but warm, with booming vocals that flood your system. The cd includes 8 of Dawn’s
charming originals as well as a contribution by Timmy Campbell, one of the masterful
contemporary Austin songwriters, and 2 covers from female Sun rockabilly artists
Barbara Pittman and Patsy Holcomb. The cd got good reviews, with the Blue Suede
News episode #65 summing up the cd with “…think a more rockin‟ Patsy
Cline……Dawn Shipley‟s Sharp Shooters hit the target every time and deliver an
excellent blend of „50‟s honky tonk and Rockabilly in a very authentic fashion…”

 Their newest release, “Baby If I…” (El Toro Records, May 2006), takes a slightly
different approach and shows that the band has reached a new level of maturity. It is
apparent in the songs that the band has become even more comfortable in adding their
own personality to the many influences they draw from, creating a unique and enticing
sound and separating them from the run-of-the-mill rockabilly artists that only recreate
the traditional sounds.

The cd includes 10 of Dawn’s originals that encompass a great expanse of styles: the
faster-tempoed, almost frantic rockabilly songs, “Baby If I” and “Anyone But You”;
“Makebelieve”, a slow and simplistic 2-beat honky tonk number resembling early styles
such as Webb Pierce and early Patsy Cline numbers (Dawn wrote the song while
emerged in a Patsy Cline listening spree); a couple 60’s surf tunes, “Bear With Me Baby”
(also featured on the Bear Family 30th anniversary boxed set), and “You’re the Only
One”; a couple rockabilly numbers with a bit of hillbilly flair: “Sealed With a Kiss” and
“Full Moon Keeps On Shining”; the “hip-hop” rockabilly song “My Rockin’ Baby”
(originally written for a short film soundtrack); and the more contemporary honky-tonk
sounding “Empty Stretch of Highway” that has a mysterious and isolating feel that is
enhanced by the addition of the baritone guitar that is sure to make you feel like you’re
the one “…driving your mem’ry away…” (don’t forget to listen to the even more
mesmerizing slower, raw version of the song); and to top it off, “Goin’ Crazy” is a Fever-
ish jazz number that you would expect to hear in a dark and smoky jazz joint.

The Sharp Shooters also perform an instrumental written by Joel Morin, “Sharp
Shootin’”, that showcases Joel’s strong steel guitar and Merle Travis style picking. The
song is an upbeat hillbilly number that Joel describes as a meeting between Speedy West
and Merle Travis. It shows the strong skills of all the Sharp Shooters (Joel Morin—
guitars, Tony Macias—bass and backing vocals, and Tony DeHerrera—drums) that is
sure to gain your respect for these musicians.

Covers on “Baby If I…” include a pumped up version of Buddy Holly’s “Gonna Set My
Foot Down” that’s sure to get your feet tapping, Glen Glenn’s “One Cup of Coffee” done
in a slower but very powerful manner, making it their own, and an amazing and unique
version of Patsy Cline’s “Crazy Dreams”. It includes the acoustic Texas shuffle beat that
defines the song, an accompanying baritone riff that adds to the uniqueness of the
version, as well as accents on the steel guitar, the strong Telecaster sound of Joel Morin,
and backing vocals byTony Macias. It’s a revitalization of a classic and defining, but
often overlooked, honky-tonk number.

Their latest accomplishments include Dawn's original composition, Empty Stretch of
Highway, earning her the 2006 Los Angeles Music Awards Americana Female
Singer/Songwriter of the Year and Americana Artist of the Year in the blind judging
competition.

It is apparent in the recorded material and live performances that the musicians are
capable and confident, with the ability to build a world of sound that will encompass each
and every listener and draw in even the least likely of fans. And who could resist Dawn’s
sweet voice, accompanied with that gigantic smile?

				
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