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Dover Post
  • Southern gothic: A converation with Shades of August's Brian Dawson

  • Local band Shades of August is currently raising money for the production of its first professional music video of the song, “Mary Brown.” The video will start shooting local scenes at the end of the month, following a three-band fundraiser at the Marydel Volunteer Fire Hall.
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  • Every weekend, local bands step onto the stages of local watering holes to belt out songs for people looking to unwind and hear covers of their favorite radio tunes. However, Shades of August, a band out of Dover, tries to do more.
    Fans can hear the guys – Brian Dawson, Rick Allara, Don Steenhagen, Clark Pritchett and Lance Pritchett – belt out radio-friendly tunes by Three Doors Down, Counting Crows or Matchbox Twenty but they can also hear the band's original stuff, too.
    And, it appears that the originals are noticed well beyond Dover, too. Rarebreed Productions, a film company based in Shreveport, La. has offered to shoot a full-length video of one of the band's original songs, "Mary Brown."
    Not only that, but the company, headed by Mel Fisher, a Dover native, believes in the song so much that the band has been awarded a huge discount in the production costs. Shades of August will still have to cover editing expenses but the discount takes the video past the concept stage. And with only $2,000 more to come up with, the band plans to start filming local scenes for the video at the end of the month.
    "When I heard the song 'Mary Brown,' I instantly said that this is a hit. You could build a movie from this," Fisher said. "When Brian laid out his storyboard, we were blown away."
    How will the band come up with $2,000? Well, they're hoping that fans will support them at the fundraising concert they're hosting at the Marydel Volunteer Fire Company Fire Hall on Saturday, March 30. The fundraiser will also feature Chainbreak and the Captain BluesGrass Band, two other well-known local acts.
    Shades of August lead singer and songwriter Brian Dawson took time this week to discuss the band's sound, the songwriting process and the band's first professional video shoot.
    Q How would you describe Shades of August's sound?
    A I think the best way to describe it is to call is 'modern southern rock.' We cover bands like Three Doors Down, Matchbox Twenty and country artists like Brantley Gilbert.
    Q But, you do your own music, too, right?
    A Yes. We play some covers because people want to hear music they're familiar with. But, we pride ourselves in the original music that we do. Our first album, "All This and Nothing" came out in 2008. It was almost like a diary of things that happened in my life over the course of three to five years. The sound of that album has a lot of delta blues to it. We're working on a new album now, too. This one is more modern and definitely heavier. We sound more polished now and the songs have more unity.
    Page 2 of 3 - Q And, it's your original music that has led to the possibility of a professional music video, right? How did that come about?
    A It's interesting. It all stems from this one song from our first CD. As I said before, all of the songs were about things that had happened to me. There was one exception, though: The song, "Mary Brown." Fast forward and travel to Shreveport, La. There's a guy there named Mel Fisher who runs a production company, Rarebreed Productions. They, along with another production company down there, got a hold of this song and just fell in love with it and said that they wanted to help us create a video for it. The irony of it is that the guy who runs Rarebreed in Louisiana is actually from Dover. It's so funny to me that we're a Dover band singing a song about a woman in Louisiana that was heard by a guy in Louisiana, who's actually from Dover. I love that.
    Q So, what's the song about?
    A Well, like I said, it takes place in Louisiana…It's about a woman who's trying to hold together a relationship that's failing and one night she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. So, she snaps. She kills both of them. Then, she goes home, locks herself inside and sets the house on fire. When the police get there, though, there's no body and the story becomes an urban legend. The rest of the song deals with that part-the urban legend. When it was written, it was just supposed to be another song but for some reason people relate to it.
    Q What will the video be like?
    A It's kind-of movie-esque. We've had lots of conference calls and the filming will take place both here and in Shreveport. The storyline of the video follows the police officer who was assigned to the Mary Brown case. It opens on the day of his retirement and as he's packing up his stuff, he remembers this case and that it was never solved. So, the premise of the video has him going back, tracing his steps and trying to solve this on his last day.
    Q When will you start shooting?
    A We'll do some scenes here in Dover on March 31. We also have shooting scheduled in Louisiana for Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. They'll have to edit it and we're hoping it will be finished in early June.
    Q But, you still have to raise the money to finish it right?
    A Right. We have to come up with about $2,000. We've done a lot of benefits for the military and someone suggested that we should consider throwing one for ourselves. So, we reached out to some other bands that we're friends with and we're going to try to raise the money through a three-band concert at the Marydel Volunteer Fire Hall.
    Page 3 of 3 - Q What are you hoping becomes of the final product?
    A Well, we all have day jobs and I don't think any of us think we're going to be quitting those any time soon. But, we would like to travel beyond the Dover scene and expand where we play. We're also going to post it on YouTube and Facebook for everybody. We're hoping it's something that people will be able to view and get a better idea of what we're about, from fans to venue owners and managers. We've come a long way in the short time we've been together but we want to go farther. This will hopefully introduce us to new fans and give our current fans something tangible to hold on to as well.
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