Aptly named after two of music’s greatest rock/bluesmen (Jimi ‘Marshall’ Hendrix and Johnny ‘Dawson’ Winter) Marshall Dawson Okell was born on April 13th, 1979, into a Rock n Roll arena, with a guitar case for a crib.
His father Glenn was a Melbourne based rock-n-roll guitarist and Marshall’s greatest lifetime influence, nourishing his son’s musical appetite with the sounds of Hendrix, Winter, Muddy Waters, Little Feat and AC/DC. Nestled amongst the roaring sounds of his father’s amplifiers, the young Marshall found his groove and a musical sensation was born.
Pre-destined for a life on the stage, Marshall’s first band, ‘The Immortal Flames’, was formed at age 11, with successive groups including punk and hard-rock bands, ‘Noosphere’ and ‘Spirit’. By the time he had reached his 19th year, Marshall had already established himself as a seasoned musician, having supported hundreds of older bands and played nearly all of the live music venues in the region.
Marshall and the Fro graced the stages of festivals including Bluesfest, Woodford, The Quiksilver Pro and more. Having become established as the quintessential sound of the Aussie surfing mojo blues, the band enjoyed an illustrious period of touring and airplay, featuring on international surf film scores, receiving multiple awards and collecting a loyal fan base along the way.
In 2011 Marshall and the Fro parted company, with the band dividing their time between life on the road and home. Marshall, being the ever-roving musician, opted to continue with his touring lifestyle and a new period of musical self-exploration began.
The making of ‘Birdy’ drew upon the raw emotion and inevitable pain that enveloped Marshall during this time and gave rise to a more soulful, mature approach to song-writing. It carried with it the influence of Birdy’s mellower, Paul Simon/James Taylor-esque sound and saw Marshall embrace a deeper, more rhythmic musical style.
Now in his 30’s and with up to 200 live gigs a year as part of his repertoire, Marshall has developed into an Aussie rocking bluesman like no other. His ever expanding list of musical accolades includes awards for the 2012 ‘Best Blues & Roots Artist’ at the Oz Music Awards. He has also been a winner of the of ‘Album of the Year’, ‘Song of the Year’, ‘Best Male Vocal’, ‘Best Protest’ and ‘Best Blues & Roots Artist’ at the NCEIA Dolphin Awards.
Having worked his way through no less than five tour vans, an unwavering dedication to the stage and what can only be described as some time ‘off the rails’, Marshall boasts a live crowd-following that puts most working musicians to shame. He has played alongside the likes of John Butler, Ben Harper, Wolfmother, Buddy Guy, The Cat Empire, Jeff Lang, Gomez and Xavier Rudd.
With years of playing now under his belt, Marshall has made a notable return to the music of his youth, combining his love for legendary Soul and Blues singers like Little Feat, The Allman Brothers, Hat Fitz, Mavis Staples and Muddy Waters, with his undisguisable Hendrix, 70’s Woodstock sound.
The result is a deep, raw, honest, dirty blues sound that grabs you by the throat and then sooths you with a sweet honey tasting musical medicine. There are pure guts, sweat and emotion in his latest material that leave you exhausted and elated in their wake.