FAUN FABLES front woman DAWN McCARTHY is a rennaisance lady who enjoys singing, theater, folklore, dancing, traveling, nature and studies of the hearth & food history.
Her performing background was forged in oral tradition amidst a large musical family in Spokane, Washington and continued with studies in music theater, rock bands, Action Theater, Polish theater and ethnomusicology.
At home, her parents played romantic, impressionistic melodies on the piano via Bartok and Debussy. There was summer theater, dance contests in the living room, and early exposure to rock, psychedelia, punk and metaphysics. Her coming-of-age years were spent largely holed up with field recordings of African & Swiss music scoured from the Spokane Public Library and taking anthropology classes. She spent some time in Madison, WI and New York City studying illustration, working as a doll-maker, and cutting her teeth as a singer & performer with various bands and cabarets; most notably as yodeler with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, whom inspired her to want a gypsy life with a kindred spirit someday.
Her life and focus took a pivotal turn in 1997 with a solo quest through the UK and Ireland and its bardic traditions; singing songs in clubs and homes which became the album ‘EARLY SONG,’ produced by MARK ORTON (of Tin Hat) & HANS WENDL (Nordisk Sang) all the while undergoing a pastoral, psychological experience with the land creating the album ‘MOTHER TWILIGHT,’ that was later acknowledged by Scottish author R.J. Stewart as a work containing true underworld tradition content. It also brought forth the experience of touring Australia, being asked to play Woodend near infamous Hanging Rock, and getting to climb that volcanic mystery that is so full of underworld riddle, even to this day.
Upon her return to the states, a fateful meeting with Oakland, CA born-and-raised NILS FRYKDAHL moved McCarthy back to the west and began a long creative chapter in the thriving hills and art community of the San Francisco Bay Area that saw the beginning of FAUN FABLES in 1998, with Frykdahl as main collaborator.
After two years of grass roots touring in their red pickup truck, in 2003 they attracted the interest of DRAG CITY RECORDS and made their label debut ‘FAMILY ALBUM,’ after two self-released records.
Now, after fifteen years of collaboration and twelve years of touring, FAUN FABLES are known for exquisite, visceral adventures in song & theater and riveting live performances to eclectic and devoted audiences in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Israel. They have six album releases on Drag City to date: ‘EARLY SONG‘ (1999/2004) produced by Mark Orton (of TIN HAT) & Hans Wendl (Nordisk Sang), ‘MOTHER TWILIGHT‘ (2001/2004), ‘FAMILY ALBUM‘ (2004), ‘THE TRANSIT RIDER (2006), ‘A TABLE FORGOTTEN‘ (2008) and ‘LIGHT OF A VASTER DARK‘ (2010), produced at Polymorph Studio in Oakland, CA by Dan Rathbun and Mark Stikman.
Faun Fables vocals ride through solid, elemental structures of guitars and percussion like Valkyries. All manner of flutes dance through the arrangements. Characters and narration arise at times, occasionally in the form of a full theater show like ‘The Transit Rider’ (2002) which toured the states in 2006. ‘By the Light of this Kitchen Table’ (2007) and ‘Whatever Happened to Limpy Glen?’ (2010) were also written and directed by Dawn, at the IDYLLWILD ARTS ACADEMY as Artist In Residence, the latter rock musical a collaboration with Frykdahl.
At the start of 2012, Dawn made an apropos opera debut as the Celtic fire goddess BRIGID; in Mark Streshinsky/Clark Suprynowicz’ fire opera MACHINE at The Crucible, singing & sweating alongside the talents of Eugene Brancoveanu and Valentina Osinski.
Malört Förlag, a Swedish book publisher who specializes in “the fantastic, the numinous and the aberrant,”asked Faun Fables to write a werewolf song for the 2012 reprinting of a 1943 book by Ella Odstedt, “VARULVEN I SVENSK FOLKTRADITION,” titled ‘A Fearful Name.’
At the conclusion of 2012, she is releasing a holiday & winter season duet project based on the Everly Brothers with BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY, titled ‘CHRISTMAS EVE CAN KILL YOU’ (single) and ‘WHAT THE BROTHERS SANG’ (full length) on Drag City, recorded in Nashville with Johnny Cash producer DAVID FERGUSSON.
Dawn also worked with Bonnie on the albums ‘’THE LETTING GO‘ (Drag City 2006), recorded in Iceland with famed Bjork producer VALGEIR SIGURDSSON, and the simple demo tapes ‘WAI NOTES’ (2007).
On their recent national tour (fall 2012) Faun Fables debuted ‘Black Angels/CZARNE ANIOLY,’ by Polish art-song composer ZYGMUNT KONIECNZY, whom Dawn met in Krakow, Poland in 2005 -while training with Grotowski-inspired theater cult GARDZIENICE- after recording an English version of Konieczny’s 1962 song ‘Carousel with Madonnas/KARUZELA Z MADONNAMI.’ (‘Family Album’, 2004). Koniecnzy then sent her his musical scores from that era; songs full of grandiose force and melody with overflowing lyrics, exciting to bring to new English-speaking audiences.
Dawn gets singing inspiration from the likes of Catherine Ribeiro, Mariana Sadowska, Lole Montoya, Demis Roussos, Roky Erickson, and now draws much inspiration as a mama witch; tending her two girl children Edda and Ura; born during a stint in the Sonoma county countryside on a forgotten 2000 acre ranch. Hearth & home life remains an obsession and vast bounty, but with Nils and the girls, the taste of the gypsy family life dreamed of years ago, has been hers to savor.
Dawn teaches songwriting & theater workshops, also group & private lessons in voice.