For Dawn Beyer, her story has always been about family.
Family is how she got her first guitar. Family was the setting of her first touring band. It is the theme of the most meaningful song she will perform on Wednesday night at The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett — where the 33-year-old Sag Harbor-born singer-songwriter will return to the Amagansett stage for the first time since she was age 16.
And, in true Beyer fashion, her family will be there, too.
“It’s pretty much a family reunion and we’re all staying there for the week. All the cousins are coming in, it’s gonna be awesome,” she said during a recent telephone interview from Idaho, where she now lives when she isn’t recording in Nashville. “Oh there’s so many of us. All the Beyers are coming in. We made this a trip where everybody’s going to get together and have a family reunion, because we haven’t done that in a while.”
Beyer caught up with the Sag Harbor Express before the show, sharing her origin story behind the country artist she is today.
The Sag Harbor Express: How are you feeling about your upcoming concert?
Dawn Beyer: I’m really excited to be coming and playing a local place where I was born, where my dad grew up, where my mom grew up, where my grandmother lived her whole life. So, lots of roots there, and it’s really exciting to be able to come play there and to have my whole family there.
What are your earliest memories from the East End?
Beyer: Beach bonfires, beach parties with the family — which is what we’re gonna have when we go out there — and just family.
When did your family leave?
Beyer: My whole family left there when I was 6, and we moved to Texas. My dad — who was a cop for a long time in Sag Harbor — was doing “Buffalo Bill” shows and reenactments at festivals. So we traveled around doing that and I would sing at them.
I got my first guitar when I was 10. At the time, we didn’t have the money to get a guitar, so my dad traded an old pick-up truck that didn’t run for my first guitar, and that’s how I got started.
What made you want a guitar in the first place?
Beyer: I had always written songs from a young age. I’d write songs and it would be a sad love song or something, and I’d never been through anything like it, and somehow it would just come to me. I’d been doing that since I was young. And then I saw a bluegrass band playing at a festival in Texas and that’s when I was like, “Oh, I want to play guitar,” and that’s when I got started at 10.
And you were on a stage by age 12?
Beyer: Mmhm! I’ve been playing in bars since I was a kid. That’s all I’ve done since I was young. And I was on the road with a bluegrass band when I was 13.
What was that time like for you?
Beyer: It was awesome. It was staying in Walmart parking lots and camping out, and they had a whole family band, so we’d play at Six Flags Over Texas and Brampton, played all over. It was just me — none of my family — just me and that band. But it felt like a family.
What attracted you to country music?
Beyer: My dad listened to a lot of George Jones, Willie Nelson, and that’s all I listened to growing up. That’s all I really knew of music in the beginning. But I like the family of country music. There’s the feeling of family and virtue, and I like the whole feeling of country music more than the other genres.
And how fitting you’re coming to the East End for a family reunion. What can we expect from your show at the Talkhouse?
Beyer: I’ll be playing acoustic, all originals, and just me and my guitar, and then my Uncle Brad will be playing with me. He’s going to be playing piano. My genre is country, but I do a lot of acoustic music, so I write all different styles rooting from country music. It’ll be a broad spectrum of different kinds of acoustic music.
Do you have a typical songwriting process?
Beyer: Oftentimes, if I find myself sitting in an empty space by myself, I feel like the silence always gives me a song that doesn’t belong to me, if that makes sense. It’s like a song comes that wasn’t really mine, but maybe it’s someone’s story that I’m supposed to tell. Maybe I’m sitting in an old house, or somewhere I can really pick up whatever that story is that should be told — that I won’t get unless I’m just still. That’s usually the space I put myself in.
Is there a particular song you’re looking forward to singing at the Talkhouse?
Beyer: There’s a song about my grandmother, who actually lived in East Hampton, and she passed away a couple years ago. I have a song called “Going on 19,” and it talks about her going to The Corner Bar and driving on Sagg Road with her red ragtop car. That song always means a lot to all of us, our family, because she always lived there. So when I perform that song, that’s probably the one with the most meaning.
Dawn Beyer will play an acoustic show on Wednesday, July 24, at 8 p.m. at The Stephen Talkhouse, located at 161 Main Street in Amagansett. Tickets are $45. For more information, call (631) 267-3117 or visit stephentalkhouse.com.