Home-schooled in an outfitters camp, in Swift River, raised in a fundamentalist family and painfully shy, Trevor Dolhan may seem like an unlikely rock star. But listening to him perform on Whitewater Wednesday, singing soulful acoustic folk or “out-Axling” Axl Rose, and you know Dolhan is the real thing.
“I’ve come a long way,” he admits with a quiet chuckle.
“To my parents, rock and roll was the Devil’s music. I was about 16 and I heard Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction. A friend of mine there in Swift River had it on cassette.
“We started playing it and we thought it was so bad ass because it actually had profanity in it. My mother would still have a coronary if she ever heard that album.”
Inspired by the rawness of the music, he got a cheap guitar from a Sears catalog and tried to teach himself to play. “I just kind of dabbled in it for a long time. It had six strings and pegs and I didn’t know what to do with either one of them, so I learned to play one note at a time.”
He found help eventually on Internet music sites. He says, “I’ve picked up a lot over time, browsing tabs and whatnot. Tabs are a godsend to somebody who doesn’t read music.”
Undaunted by his early difficulties, and later encouraged by drunken karaoke, Dolhan found his rebellious spirit in his singing. “I sang at an early age, but I wasn’t exactly supported either singing or playing at an early age. But I was going to do it whether anyone liked it or not.”
Dolhan’s ambition to create a great rock album came out of a recent hardship. “I got an infection a couple of years ago that was closely related to the Black Plague. It nearly killed me. I looked like death for a while and I come out of that and I thought it was almost time for me to get done what I really want to.
“It’s time,” he affirms, straightening up in his chair, deadly serious. “It’s a matter of getting my songs together that I want to record, getting the exposure, getting to know more musicians and forming a lineup.
“Right now, I’m taking it easy, enjoying doing the jams for a while. We’ve got the greatest music hostess in the world. Peggy’s personality is definitely instrumental in getting someone as shy as me up onstage to actually play.”
And how does Dolhan reconcile his fundamentalist upbringing with playing “the Devil’s music”? “Basically, what I believe now is we’re created to really follow our dreams, and as long as those dreams are benevolent, then they can’t be wrong.”