Mike Dawson bio

Long live rock n roll.

On November 12, 2016, I had 2 tickets to see Shooter Jennings at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. My guest bailed on me, so I put it out on social media that I had an extra ticket. “Just be cool and buy me a beer. I’ll be the guy out front who looks like me.” That’s the night I met Tyler Kershaw. Serendipity would follow. It turned out that Tyler’s a drummer and I was looking for a band. Before the show began, Ted Russell Kamp, the bass player for the show’s headliner, was walking the floor, as is his pre show ritual. I noticed him in the crowd and beckoned him to join us for a minute. After introductions, Ted asked, “So, are you guys in a band?” I looked at Tyler and said, “Well… Are we?” The rest, as they say, is…

Thank you for buying this record. We hope you have as much fun listening to it as we did recording it. The songs notched in the grooves of this record represent the joy and pain, triumph and struggle, hope and tears of the past few years in our lives. Five years of rehearsal. Four years of gigs. Three years of recording. One solid representation of life in Southern California. Side One represents destruction. Side Two mirrors redemption. Both sides offer an insightful glimpse into life in post-millennial Los Angeles and the obstacles we overcome in our journey to the top. As the legends say, it’s a long way there, so kick back and enjoy the music. But don’t forget the struggle. We hope that when you finish listening to this record, you’ll go out to see a band play live. Hopefully it’s our band. Either way, please pay the cover charge. Sign the mailing list. Sing along to the songs. Buy a shirt. Dance your ass off. Make some new friends. The only reason we make records is so we can perform them live for an audience. Studio time is cool, but there is nothing in the world that beats the energy of eager fans who want to feel this with you. So please support local music wherever you are. Without you, live music dies. But because of you, it never will. Long live rock n roll.


“‘The Last Honky Tonk Hero’ [is] a raucous and raw — though slickly produced — album. … Dawson’s voice pairs to the gritty rock music like rolled cigarettes with lukewarm bottles of Coors Banquet.”

— Matt Kettmann, Santa Barbara Independent

“A powerful song for a powerful subject. … [It] takes that reality and mixes in a metaphorical destruction of California’s version of the American dream.”

— Jonathan Aird, Americana UK

  1. "The Last Honky Tonk Hero" sampler Mike Dawson and The Smokin Kills 2:37