Dawg Yawp are Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan. They have been friends for a long time at this point, and have been playing music for an even longer time. Tyler has been playing for 16 years and Rob, the older of the two, has been for about 18 years. They have honed in on a craft, on a style, and on a level of music that I am not so sure Cincinnati has seen before. Rob plays guitar and also sings. To say that is all he does is an understatement. He learned jazz piano as a kid as he passionate about artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, but then the likes of The Beatles, Dylan, and Hendrix were also influences as well.
For Rob though it was the drives in his Uncle’s car listening to this music, and as a little kid becoming “fascinated” by the piano. Tyler Randall’s musical styling’s are interesting as well. Tyler plays guitar, mandolin, and sitar. Yes…the sitar. An instrument that which when I asked him about how he learned this and why he simply said “ I first heard the sitar on The Beatles song, "Within You Without You" off the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was so intrigued by the sound of that instrument. I saved up for a while and after doing a lot of research ordered one online. I waited so long for it, I would dream about sitars. When it finally came, I cried tears of sadness. It was much more complicated than I thought, and I feared I would never learn to play it.” Tyler would take the sitar down to a park a play for hours with the birds in the trees, and with a little help from a local luthier they modified it a little. Put a pick up on it so Tyler could plug it into an amplifier as well as adding some frets to make it chromatic. His musical tastes ranged from The Beatles, The Doors, Ravi Shankar, and Bill Frisell. So many more as well. With the sitar, and guitar and their harmonies this makes for the most unique and refreshing music in Cincinnati right now. These guys are writing songs that have something completely different going on.
I first saw these fellas at The Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky back in February for Sean Geil’s Artist in Residence. To say I was floored would be an understatement. To say I was inspired would also be an understatement. To say these guys bring a warmth to their show, and a calm would be exactly true. You are so enamored by the sound that you become entranced. These guys have a unique and refreshing sound that our local scene needs.
Their latest album Two Hearted is a reflection of where they have come from and where they may hope to go. Entrancing songs that move and shape. Songs that honestly, are so unique I really do not know how to describe them. They enlisted the help of a producer friend of theirs Rob Fetters, who helped turn shape into the songs. Dawg Yawp has a different style it is not country, it’s not folk, it’s not rock and roll, it is simply all of that really. Thrown into the proverbial blender and add a little sitar for flavor and this is what came out.
With the album complete and set to release on Wednesday May 6th at Maudie’s in Over The Rhine they are looking toward the future. The hope is to get more shows in the Cincinnati area and in our most recent conversation Tyler told me, “We want to play a lot of shows around Cincinnati and also try to get out of town into other cities near and afar, playing shows with musical groups of all sorts. We will keep writing music for our full-length album and tour as soon as possible. Maybe get a full band together if we meet the right people.”
They put together six songs that truly showcase what you would see at a live show minus the help of some fellow musician’s on the album. As we closed out our conversation I asked them the question I ask all the folks I interview and I’ll let their answers close this out. Maudie’s on Wednesday May 6th is where you will want to be, or check em’ out on Facebook and see what they have coming up. Here is what they had to say to Why Music?
“I can't help it, I just love it so much. I have no idea why. Maybe because people are expressing themselves in it…I get so exhausted with how we hold back our expression in day-to-day life. I learn so much from people sharing what they are really feeling.” (Tyler Randall)
“I love it. I have always been drawn to it...my parents have told me that they used to wake up in the middle of the night and I'd be scat singing and jumping up and down on the bed. It has always been my favorite thing. If I wasn't outside playing when I was younger, I was inside sounding something out on the piano and singing. Since I started writing music I have never really been apart from my guitar and am constantly hearing music in my mind. It makes the world I see and hear come alive. Also, music is a wonderful shared experience, and I love everyone getting together and expressing themselves and listening to one another.” (Rob Keenan)