Dana Lyons discusses 'mongrel folk rock,' benefit concerts

By Michael Eilers

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dana Lyons is a folk-rock musician with a following among both political activists and fans of contemporary music. An artist who is comfortable in many different modes, his music ranges from raw, angry blues to quiet acoustic melodies, with a politically and socially conscious slant. Lyons is in town to play a benefit concert for Rod Coronado, a local activist.

Wildcat: Do you see yourself as an activist/singer or a singer/activist?

Dana Lyons: I sing about all kinds of things, so I am definitely a singer first, but I sing about what I see. I like to work for the community and the greater community, including the wild creatures.

WC: This concert is a benefit for Rodney Coronado, who is currently under investigation by the FBI. How did you get involved in doing this show for him?

D.L.: I sailed on the Sea Shepherd with Rod back in 1990, so he's an old friend of mine, and I knew that the FBI was harassing him. When I finally caught up with him I wanted to help him out. No one has ever been caught for the incident that Rod was supposedly involved in, so they're going after him because he's a visible spokesman for animal rights. The benefit is to raise money to help pay for his legal fees.

WC: Do you see yourself fitting into a particular genre or type of music?

D.L.: I think that the job of every artist or musician is to create what they love to create and communicate what they believe in; in terms of genres, there's no category I'm shooting for. There's a trend toward increasingly mechanized music and computerized radio stations bland, horrible stuff and I'm happy to see the erosion of the pop music scene. That will make room for lots of types of music. I describe my music as "mongrel folk rock," folk roots with rock sounds. It's music for people who like to have fun while raising hell.

WC: On your albums you play with many different musicians. Who's on tour with you?

D.L.: In the studio, I play with session musicians from all over, but now I'm touring with guitarist Johnny Mack and Anna Schadd, a violinist. Mack adds a raw, rock 'n' roll sound, and a little blues. At the benefit I'm playing solo, with Peg Millet opening the show, [she's] a great folk singer.

WC: Do you feel that benefit concerts are part of your "job" as a musician?

D.L.: Yeah, I like to do my part. Hopefully, they raise a little money, but these concerts are also a mechanism to create a sense of community and bring people together. I'm doing four benefit concerts in a row, two in Arizona, one in Alaska, and one in British Columbia, all for different causes and organizations. We'll raise a little money, and a little hell, hopefully.

Dana Lyons plays tonight at The Downtown Performance Center, 530 N. Stone, at 7 p.m. Call 628-1650 for information.

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