Mike Dawes offers an intimate look at his acoustic arrangement secrets in this mind-blowing live premiere

Anyone who has witnessed Mike Dawes’ frankly ridiculous dexterity on the acoustic guitar will testify that seeing it in person is truly a next-level six-string experience.

COVID-19 may have temporarily put a stop to live performances, but now you can enjoy the next-best thing, as Dawes gears up to release his debut live album, Shows & Distancing: Live in the USA – and today, GW is exclusively premiering the record’s first track.

In the video above, Dawes not only delivers a blinding performance of his solo guitar take on Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know – complete with percussive touches and ringing harmonic melodies – but also offers a quick lesson on how he assembles his dizzying arrangements, from left-hand fretboard taps to treating the body like a drum set.

Shows & Distancing: Live in the USA was recorded across five events in New York, Florida and Los Angeles, and includes a collaboration with Danish session titan Quist.

Dawes is keen to emphasize the humor and audience participation on the record – which isn’t necessarily something you’d expect to hear on a live acoustic recording.

“One of the things people don’t see in the online ‘official music videos’ is how exactly the pieces translate to a live setting,” he explains. “I wanted to capture the banter and back and forth with the people in the room. There is certainly a lot of influence here from classic rock albums I used to listen to growing up. It’s still nothing on Dee Snider, though!”

Mike Dawes

(Image credit: Press)

Capturing the shows in the USA felt like a logical choice for Dawes, given the impact of the country and international fans on his career.

“This is a grateful nod to all the wonderful USA concerts I've had the fortune of being able to play these past seven years,” he says.

“Solo, with Justin Hayward's team and with the International Guitar Night tour (which is amazing, by the way), I think that without the opportunities to play in the USA I’d be in a very different place in life, and I'm eternally grateful for the fans, friends and adopted family in my home away from home.

“I can't wait to get back out there again, hopefully in April 2021. Fingers crossed and masks on.”

Shows & Distancing: Live in the USA is out on October 30 2020, and available to preorder now at MikeDawes.com.

Dawes will also be hosting a one-off live-streaming event from his home on November 1. Tickets and CD bundles are available from Shopify.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.