David Dondero tells it like he feels it

Singer-songwriter brings his pointed commentary to The Taos Inn


Back in 2006, Robin Hilton, the producer of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” named David Dondero one of the 10 best living songwriters alongside luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney and PJ Harvey. In an interview with The Colorado Springs Independent’s Bill Forman, Dondero said, “I wish they never would have written that.”

Last June, Dondero performed at Parse Seco in Arroyo Seco, and he is returning for a show Sunday (Jan. 28), 6:30 p.m., in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. There is no cover charge.

Asked to whom he would like to be compared, Dondero replied, “Ernest Peters, ‘the train engineer’ from Northern Minnesota. He drove the trains from Duluth to Seattle. He bought the corner store and gave all the food away. He invented an engine that ran off water and had no harmful emissions. He walked the fields and didn’t talk shit. I wanna be compared to him, but I’m still talking too much shit.”

Dondero, who was born in Duluth, Minn., started playing drums at age 10 and writing songs at age 12. He says his first songs were about gravity and suffering. Also, throwing up. Early influences included Van Halen and Ozzy Osborne until he discovered Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys.

“Then, I really got into Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five and had to start writing rhymes to dream away the easy boredom of my life and all my trite first-world problems,” Dondero commented.

He went on to be the lead vocalist for the punk hardcore band Sunbrain, and later joined This Bike is a Pipe Bomb as their drummer. In the late 1990s, Dondero struck out on his own as a solo artist.

For his Taos show, Dondero said he plans to play a mix of his older and newer material with some time in-between for sharing stories. He will be playing solo with his guitar, joking that he saves his laser show and cable fly-in rigging system for the coliseum performances.

A recent song is titled “The Presidential Palace of Pornography.” Dondero said it’s inspired by “the current emperor and his crew of cretins.”

“It’s about flaming cesspools and garbage spewing swamp monsters. It’s about privatized prisons and the war on drugs, which is really a war on liberals. It’s about gerrymandering and bigotry. It’s about stupidity and cutting the budget for education. It’s about greed and how they’ve pledged allegiance to the wealth and the money. How they’ve turned their backs on a civil society. It’s about heartbreak and how they gladly ‘roll coal dust’ all over the earth day parades.”

“It’s an ugly song,” said Dondero, “but then there’s another song that I’ve recently written entitled ‘When the Pendulum Swings.’ ‘When the fat lady sings … will they put him away when the pendulum swings?’ I hope so.”

When he isn’t engaged in musical activities, Dondero said he enjoys “petting my cat or walking with the goats and watching them chomp away at the various leafy greens available to them depending on what time of year it is.”

Dondero sometimes reads poetry and likes beat poet Bob Kaufman as well as David Berman’s “Actual Air,” Robert Benefiel’s “Easy Battles for Lazy Armies” and Simon Joyner’s book of lyrics “Only Love Can Bring You Peace.”

Asked if he writes poetry as well as songs, Dondero said that he mostly writes lyrics that end up as part of “one big continual song which is part of the ongoing giant gasp of a song from everyone.”

“Just a little speck of it though. A dot on the line,” he concluded.

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