Mission Hills Guitarist and British Singer Perform in Five Local Appearances

| November 4, 2011 | 2 Comments

Don Strandberg performs with John Dartnell.

Lovers of guitar duets, listen up! Through a collaboration done totally by computer file sharing between San Diego, and Rodmell, a little village in Sussex, England, Mission Hills finger style guitarist and arranger Don Strandberg, and writer/guitarist/singer John Dartnell released a CD titled “Dreams and Schemes” in April 2011. “Dreams and Schemes” has garnered considerable radio play in the U.S., Australia and Europe. Dartnell, a local British figure has five CD’s to his credit, six with “Dreams and Schemes,” and has had acting roles in “countless UK TV shows,” as well as a non-speaking part in one of the Harry Potter films. Dartnell won “Artist of the Year” for 2009 on Sound Machine Radio and was on the New Music Weekly Indie Charts in America for 15 weeks with his song “If It Ain’t Country,” which peaked at number 9. Now, Strandberg and Dartnell are on the cusp of releasing their sophomore duet CD, “The Road Goes On,” and will be playing five San Diego shows during November. I’ve listened to a lot of their music online, and Strandberg has forwarded several pieces to me.

Strandberg is a local acoustic finger style guitarist living in Mission Hills who began playing at age nine, with lessons from Norm Sanders, one of the original “Tornadoes,” whose band had the first surf instrumental song to ever garner national airplay, “Bustin’ Surfboards” which was featured in the 1994 soundtrack of “Pulp Fiction.”

Strandberg is married to Alice Lowe, (who, coincidentally, is a fellow columnist for the Presidio Sentinel.) In a strange twist, it was Alice’s love for the works and life of Virginia Woolf that led to their meeting John Dartnell. “We met years ago in England,” says Strandberg. “Alice is a Virginia Woolf fan and we were searching for our muses. That led to a trip to England. We were staying in a little cottage down the road from where Virginia Woolf lived, and up the road was a pub, and there was this old guitar and I started playing it. In walks this guy with a beard down to his waist, he’d been around as a working rocker and he had a number of CD’s, like American Country style music.” That man was John Dartnell, (or “the Beard.) The two men jammed together on that trip and met on one more yearly trip and then, recalls Strandberg, “a couple of years later he emails me about a project and says ‘I could do with a good guitarist, do you fancy a job?’”

That led to a slew of file sharing. “John would send me an mp3, I’d arrange it for three or four guitars, I played all the parts, recorded it on 8-track and sent it back. On his end, he records the vocals and mixes and masters in his studio over there. The work definitely sounds American, so it’s fun to have this particular combination of things come along.”

For his part, Dartnell is effusive in his praise of Strandberg: “Don is an amazing musician, and he will be the last to tell you so. He’s always looking for the lost chord, and he does all of these weird and wonderful tunings so the same chord always sounds different.” Dartnell remembers the same first meeting, and that when he heard Strandberg playing that old guitar in the pub, “I turned around and went home and got my guitar and we started jamming. We gelled straight away, and every time he came over here, we would do a couple of impromptu gigs.” Last year, Dartnell made his first trip to America, and they played “one small gig just to get the feel of the album ‘Dreams and Schemes.’”

This time around, on Dartnell’s second trip to the United States, it won’t just be “one small gig,” it will be “The Dreams and Schemes Tour,” five full performances of the music from “Dreams and Schemes,” as well as cuts from the new “The Road Goes On.” The first concert is on Saturday, November 12th at Mueller College, 4603 Park Blvd; Phone 619-507-7223. The show starts at 7:30 pm and is $8.00 at the door. For information see www.johnciccolella@mac.com

Dartnell and Strandberg play their second of five concerts on Sunday, November 13th at Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge, 2906 University Avenue, Phone 619-688-9845. That show begins at 7:00 pm. The third gig is a solo night at Lestat’s, 3343 Adams Avenue on Wednesday, November 16th at 7:30. The fourth show is a return engagement on Saturday, November 19th at Mueller College at 7:30, again for $8.00 at the door and the final show is a return on Sunday, November 20th to Claire de Lune at 7:00 pm. For information www.clairedelune.com

You owe it to yourself to give Strandberg’s and Dartnell’s music a listen. Head over to www.myspace.com/donstrandberg and www.myspace.com/johndartnell You can also purchase “Dreams and Schemes,” and four other CD’s for a low $11.99 at Dartnell’s site.

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