Local music devotee, Katie Dwyer is elevating the Pierre scene by organizing events and creating her own tunes.
She’s a singer-songwriter who plays multiple instruments and sings in a folk-pop style. Along with being a solo artist, Dwyer is part of the bands Owl Chaser and Moon & Sea and can often be found singing or playing backup for friends. During a recent conversation at the Exchange, Dwyer elaborated on her musical influences, projects, and upcoming shows.
While Dwyer was not the first person to organize local music in town, she is now known for putting together local music events and connecting venues with musicians. “As soon as I got to Pierre it seemed like there was a gap,” she says, “it seemed like organization was needed and that it was an area I could get involved in.” She also recognizes that the scene she is developing is different than those of the past, but she hopes to get a diverse group going. “I really love local music, I like that I have lived in many places,” and those places she says provide a testing ground for new styles, they are “different flavors of the U.S.,” Dwyer tells me. For her, each different music scene provides the opportunity to both learn from other musicians as well as to play with them. And it all impacts her own music. “I will probably keep experimenting for a long time, probably forever,” she laughs. She has even created a public playlist on Spotify called “South Dakota Folk” where she is curating a folk-ish list of statewide musicians. Katie Dwyer’s music can also be found on Spotify by searching her name and looking under the “artists” tab.
Dwyer started playing at the age of twelve and says that she was a “closet songwriter” until the age of nineteen when she got up the courage to play in coffee houses during her senior year of high school. Her dad, Keith Schumacher is also a musician and one of the first songs she recorded was a collaboration with her sister. “I have always been a singer, even as a child.” Dwyer jokes that in her early years, “life was a musical.” The first music she recalls was listening to was the Beach Boys with her dad, though she does not know how to play any of their songs, it is the “happy feeling” of their music that still resonates with her.
Asking where she where she gets her motivation to write, Dwyer says that most of her songs are written early in the year, during the February Album Writing Month event, FAWM.org. The goal being to write fourteen songs in twenty-eight days. The first time she participated in the national event was in 2009, and she has worked to partake in the event every year since. Many of her songs start out as journal entries. “I collect phrases that I like throughout the year and turn them into actual songs in February.” Dwyer adds, “A lot of my songs are about personal experiences or others’, I am an empathetic person and it is easy to put myself in their shoes.” She continues that “sometimes the music comes first, but there is a natural rhythm” to words that usually gets things started. She especially enjoys in collaborating with other artists and says, “I write a lot, almost more than I can get recorded.”
Dwyer has one album that was recorded at the 2017 Pierre Music Songwriter Showcase at Drifters, available at katiedwyer.bandcamp.com. In their home studio, Dwyer and her husband Andrew have also recorded CDs for their band Moon & Sea. She is in the beginning stages of a new solo album by figuring out what themes it may have--she has enough music to record an album several times over, so now it is down to deciding what will make the cut. However, she plans to perform a lot throughout the summer and focus seriously on the album this fall. I was excited to learn a personal favorite of mine, a song that debuted at the 2018 Songwriter Showcase called “Out the Door,” has already been chosen to be on the upcoming album.
Her next show in town is at the Pierre Music Store Jam Night on Thursday, May 17, at 7:00pm.
On July 7, she is playing at the Pierre Area Pride Festival; August 9 at a Drifter’s Patio Session; August 11 at Lily Fest; and September 13 at the Pierre Music Store with Eliza Blue. (Did you know that you can grab a pizza to-go at Gator’s or take-out sushi at Tokyo and then hit up the local sounds at the Pierre Music Store?) Other performances include public events at Arrowwood Resort in Chamberlain on June 9, July 20, and August 17.
Visit Katie Dwyer’s Facebook page, facebook.com/katiedwyermusic, to stay up-to-date on her summer schedule, music, and the local scene.