Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday August 14th 2018


Familiar Folk

By: Jessica Forbes

When David Dondero plays shows in Pensacola, primarily two groups of people get happy. First his local fans, and second, his local friends. As Dondero’s one-time home in the late 1990s, Pensacola continues to be a regular stop on his tours and a place the acclaimed singer-songwriter still looks forward to visiting.

“Pensacola is just beautiful. It’s very much a dream-like place to me. It definitely has a quality like no other place on earth. The low hanging clouds coming off the Gulf, I always remember that,” Dondero recalled from Milwaukee during a recent phone call with the IN. “It’s like a very comforting place to go back and be there—an old familiar face, you know? I love it.”

Dondero is currently on the road in support of his ninth studio album, “This Guitar,” which he released on Nov. 3. In 2006, Robin Hilton of NPR’s All Songs Considered listed Dondero as one of the 10 Best Living Songwriters, and on “This Guitar” his ability to put stories centered on love, politics, and characters he’s met over the years to song shines as strongly as on any album he’s made.

“Sometimes it comes out much later in various forms,” said Dondero of the stories told through the album, some of which he started forming into songs seven years ago. “Certain things happen and it takes a little while to digest them and then bring them out.”

Song inspirations on “This Guitar” range from a transgender female friend in “Samantha’s Got a Bag of Coal” to the border fence and U.S. immigration policy in “New Berlin Wall” to his feelings towards his guitar, a Gibson Hummingbird, in the title track.

Dondero funded recording of “This Guitar” and an early-career retrospective titled “Golden Hits Vol. 1” via a Kickstarter campaign in early 2013. Both albums were recorded to tape, pressed to vinyl and are available through Dondero’s Bandcamp site. The effort was something Dondero found to be a welcome departure from the traditional process of working with a record label.

“I’ve done a lot of records through record labels; it’s never been a very positive experience, as far as making a living,” Dondero said of his choice to go the Kickstarter route. “My buddy Simon Joyner in Omaha had done it successfully and so did Franz Nicolay in New York, so I talked to those guys and decided to try it out.”

Through Kickstarter, Dondero raised over $12,000 for the releases, offering perks including screen printed T-shirts and artwork that he made himself. Dondero screen prints all of his tour T-shirts, a skill he learned from members of Pensacola’s This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, interestingly enough.

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