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Midwestern musician brings his act to the Mill

BY JESSICA CARBINO | NOVEMBER 19, 2010 7:20 AM

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Damon Dotson has performed at houses, bars, and even the decks of fans' homes.

He can also add "Southwestern-style restaurants" to that list. After calling up Iowa City venues and asking each for the opportunity to perform, Mondo's Saloon finally gave him the OK,"and though the venue couldn't pay the singer/songwriter much, Dotson leapt at the chance to bring his music to Iowa City.

"Whatever it took to play in front of people and try to spread it," he said.

The laid-back singer traveled long distances to no audience and little pay just to spread his music, going among Ames, Iowa City, Des Moines, or wherever else that would take him. He said he believed sooner or later the fans would appear— he just wanted his music out there.

Dotson will perform today at 9 p.m. at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $8.

Dan Livengood met Dotson through a mutual friend who hired Dotson for his 30th birthday party. Impressed with the singer's talent, Livengood decided to help Dotson with his career.

"As one of his many good friends, I'm trying to utilize my networking and marketing expertise to help him when I can," Livengood said. "He's very gifted and talented. He's probably one of the most underrated singer/songwriters in the industry."

Dotson didn't begin thinking about making singing part of his career until his junior year in college, though he played drums from fifth grade through high school.

"Being a frontman was never in my thought process until I actually picked up a guitar in college," he said.

The singer graduated with a physical-education degree from Dordt College, and after graduation, he spent a year substitute teaching in Sioux Falls, S.D. elementary schools while also giving guitar lessons.

"It ended up being quite a bit of fun," he said. "Many of them would just ask questions about why I had long hair."

Dotson enjoyed the education process with the ideals and the discipline it embodies. The thought of making an impression on someone else's life was also exciting for him. Having a positive effect came into play with his music, and Dotson decided to work on making singing and writing his own music a success.

"[I] wanted to see what could happen if I continued trying to write and sing," he said.

To keep things fresh, the singer doesn't stick to a certain genre; he could be considered acoustic, rock, pop, or folk as far as anyone is concerned. Genre, he believes, causes limitations to listeners' ears.

"I try to write good songs," he said. "Whatever genre they come out sounding like is fine with me."

The artist doesn't impose limitations on his own life, either.

In addition to singing and touring, he and his wife own a business in Okoboji, Iowa, called Fleshtones. The store combines the pair's careers, selling skin lotions, sun screen, and cosmetics — Dotson's wife is an aesthetician — as well as music posters, vinyl records, and show bills. This year they even started their own line of T-shirts.

But singing and performing are still Dotson's biggest passions, and finishing a song gives the artist an amazing thrill.

"It's sort of like finishing a painting," he said, "Some of them happen in 20 minutes, and some have been brewing for years."


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