Mark Dawson took up the bass at age 18, choosing the instrument because he thought it might be easier to play than the guitar, having only four strings. The fact that he could also sing made it easy for him to find a band to play with. “It was dumb luck, but it turned out that a bass player/vocalist was, and still is, somewhat of a rare commodity,” says Dawson. After playing the Chicago club circuit for twenty years, Dawson grew tired of the local scene. In 1996 he decided to start a new adventure and made the move to Orlando with his family. “There were great musicians in Chicago, but the live music scene was changing. DJs were getting more money than bands. Kinda sad. Orlando doesn’t pay well either, but you can’t beat the sunshine,” Dawson adds.
The Florida sun definitely has been shining down on Dawson throughout the years. He has made a great impact on the local music scene and is currently the bass player/lead vocalist of The Grass Roots. This is the second summer that he has been a part of the Happy Together Tour, and he’s loving every minute of it. “It’s so much fun. The Buckinghams, The Association, Mark Lindsay, The Turtles— We are doing 27 shows through the end of August.”
Playing for The Grass Roots is not Dawson’s only gig. When he’s not on tour with The Grass Roots, he also performs with American Pop 60s and the local band, Simulcast. His biggest musical influence has always been the Beatles. “They are the reason I wanted to make music. Paul McCartney is the #1 musician, ever! Early on, I listened to progressive players like Chris Squire of Yes and Jeffrey Hammond of Jethro Tull. When I really started listening to what Paul McCartney was doing, the game changed. He has flowing bass melodies all on their own under the body of his songs. It’s beautiful.” Dawson tries to think like McCartney in that way when he is playing, and bring the same beauty and flawless technique to his performances. “I also love what Sting did with the Police,” adds Dawson. “Powerful and driving.”
Mark feels fortunate that his career is still going strong. “I’m most proud of the fact that I still feel passionate about music. I live it. Playing bass is as much fun now as it was when I was a kid. I also feel blessed that I’m able to perform with some of the legendary artists of my generation. It’s a daily thrill!”
Keep your eyes open for future local performances. The Happy Together Tour is currently taking Mark and The Grass Roots all over the country, but he will be performing closer to home again before you know it. Simulcast already has performances scheduled for this fall, scattered throughout Central Florida. The Grass Roots will be playing in Tampa next March, from the 14 to the 17. Keep checking the schedules for updates on both bands and also future performances of American Pop 60s. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see this great local talent in his element!