Dolly Varden is a band, based in Chicago, whose name is taken from a variety of trout found in the northwest, and that trout was named for a character in a Dickens novel. Neither have anything to do with Dolly Parton.
Steve Dawson and his wife Diane Christiansen, an artist and graduate of both the Kansas City and Chicago Art Institutes, form the nucleus of the group, with Mark Balletto, Mike Bradburn and Matt Thobe rounding out a smooth acoustic sound that is sometimes hard to believe is live.
Dawson was raised in Idaho, studied music in Boston and moved to Chicago to form Stump the Host with Christiansen. After that band folded, the two went on to launch Dolly Varden in 1994. The band has released six albums since its 1995 debut “Mouthful of Lies.” The four song KDHX Live Performance set includes three from the band’s newest album, “For A While,” released earlier this year, and “The Thing You Love is Killing You,” from “The Dumbest Magnets,” released in 2000.
The sound is lush and the lyrics are even more so. Give a listen and let the atmospheric folk wash over you.