The music industry is fueled by schlockmeisters churning out sugary confections that make millions but provide little enlightenment, while a courageous few pursue their creative vision in relative obscurity, a noble ethic that earns a cult following and a smattering of critical respect. David Dondero falls solidly and willingly into the latter category.
Dondero began in the band life — with Sunbrain, then This Bike is a Pipe Bomb — but ultimately followed his Indie Folk muse down the solo path. His 1999 debut, The Pity Party, established Dondero as a sincere, reflective and evocative singer/songwriter with a gift for lilting melody and lyrical honesty, and his loyal audience has grown largely by converting fans of artists he’s opened for over the years, including David Bazan, Crooked Fingers, Spoon and Bright Eyes, among others.
Dondero has also found fervent admirers among those artists; Conor Oberst once remarked, “It was hearing David Dondero’s voice that made me comfortable with my own.” And critics — the smart ones, anyway — have long sung Dondero’s praises. After 2005’s South of the South, NPR’s All Songs Considered declared Dondero among the best living songwriters, cited with Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits, while the Houston Chronicle knighted him “this generation’s Townes Van Zandt.”
Dondero’s eighth studio album, 2011’s A Pre-Existing Condition, showcased his translational skills as well as his songwriting, with sparsely wonderful covers of Neil Young, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Lowell George alongside his powerful originals. The album proved that he’s not the next or new anything, just the best David Dondero of his time.
DAVID DONDERO performs Sunday, June 3 at MOTR Pub with guest Mechanical River. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.