BLONDE HEADS? Yep! That's what all the enthusiastic folks who follow Dakota Blonde across the Rocky Mountain Region call themselves! This vibrant new acoustic "trio" is made up of Mary Huckins (yes, from South Dakota) whose sweet strong vocals are the linchpin holding the group together, the smooth steady guitar playing and cool harmonies of Don Pinnella (nope, not blonde) and the charming acoustic bass work and humor of Tony Raddell. Performing originals and covers that are a unique combination of folk, bluegrass, and country with a little Celtic tinge - the trio nails their tight harmonies. They are an unusual group - they met through their careers in music therapy, working with children and adolescents who are emotionally troubled. That special capacity for empathy could explain the titanium bond the band quickly makes with their audience. All three come from musical families, and their charm stems both from the music they play and from the family feeling they bring into any concert hall or venue. Their shows are very personal! You'll walk away feeling like you've always known them. Dakota Blonde has shared the stage with Nickel Creek, John McEuen, Jimmy Ibbotson, Pete Huttlinger, Tony Furtado, Jim Horn, John Sommers, Firefall, Mollie O'Brien and the list goes on. They also have shared the spotlight with folks like Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, David Crosby, Lucy Kaplansky and Greg Brown.
Mary Huckins' song "Somebody's Brother" received top honors in the 2001 Walnut Valley Festival songwriters showcase in Winfield, Kansas. The group was again honored to make it into the final round of the Independent Record Label Awards this past year. They are certainly on their way up!
The "trio" are the mainstays of Dakota Blonde which is not so often a trio anymore. They are joined by incredible talent on the stage and in the studio on a regular basis:
Daniel Jones has become the fourth member of this trio. Dr. Daniel Jones is a master of the art of pedal steel and dobro. As a professor of Musicology at CU in Boulder, Colorado, he stores enough musical know-how to keep us all in line.
Ernie Martinez is a one man band and thrills us all on banjo, dobro, mandolin, guitar, pedal steel, and bass (just to name a FEW). Ernie also does loads of studio work and is involved with Ash Street Publishing and J. Bug Records.
There are times when you discover something so new and fresh and exciting, and that moves you so deeply that you want to share it with the world. That's Dakota Blonde.