Plaehn by Name, Not by Nature


Dave Plaehn, music industry veteran releases solo concept album Radio Sister. 

Born and raised in Iowa, both his parents were musical purists and sang themselves. Where as his mother favored artists like Sarah Vaughn, his father’s sound was that of Mario Lanza. Diversity in styles, was a key influencer in Dave’s musical tastes and the Plaehn household.

During his time in high school he enjoyed covering the likes of his idols Jimmy Hendrix, Dylan, Donovan and Cream. But he had something these rock Gods did not, genuine Bluegrass roots. As he left his teens behind he began to realize this in college, getting more into the blues, listening to Koerner, Ray and Glover. He even played in a jug band, covering the Jim Kweskin and others. Though known for his singing, his harmonica skills greatly started to get him noticed on the scene. By the end of college he had discovered and began focusing on what would be his major influences: Stevie Wonder, Sonny Terry, Johnny Winter, Bukka White, Bonnie Raitt, Buffy St. Marie and Paul Butterfield.

Perhaps this is why when listening to Radio Sister the preference for me lies within the bluesier tracks vs the world music. Don’t get me wrong his ability to switch genre, reggae to jazz, even to mariachi funk, is impressive. There’s no denying that Plaehn is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, as is evident in tracks like “I want Love” and “Hello Melinda.” But it’s when he gets back to his bluesy roots and his parents purest influences, is when he really shines. Especially when you hear  the track “Lead Belly: Looky, Looky Yonder​/​Linin’ Track​/​Black Betty” which is just his voice acapella and clapping hands. And honestly, that’s all that’s needed. He’s best when his tracks showcase his hambone, harmonica and voice range, versus the 80s synth effects and saxaphone that can be heard on “I Want Love.” My personal favorites were watching his live performances with Jeff Hino.

Live Performance with Plaehn-Hino Blues Band:

By the mid-80s Dave was living in Oregon where he joined Neal Gladstone & Company and started performing with slide guitarist, Jeff Hino, as a  duo in 1990. They went on to release the mostly acoustic blues CD, On Your Bond (1996) and  Can’t Get My Rest (2002). Dave and Jeff continue to perform in the Plaehn-Hino Blues Band. In the ‘97 Dave was endorsed as a harmonica player by Hohner, Inc. That  same year he "sat in" with the OSU-Corvallis Symphony.


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