"... the ultimate convergence of artists, songs, and technology ... balancing the fragility of their sound with the power of their lyric."
(Ron Simpson, Mix Magazine)
Arizona harp and guitar duo, D-Squared, weaves a tonal fabric of poignant lyrics, earth-rooted melodies and stark, hypnotic rhythms. Combining guitar, mandola, banjo and a low, resonant voice with the folk harp, concertina, accordion and beguiling vocals, Charles and Gessner lead listeners through a landscape both arid and lush, sacred and desecrated, arrogant and innocent.
Attending a show is akin to joining a gathering of friends around the kitchen table. Natural storytellers with a sly wit, D-Squared enchants audiences with tales of their beloved Southwest and the rocks, plants and animals that share it.
Honed on a backcountry ranch where they met, married and developed their music, D-Squared's spacious sound reflects a life lived beneath high western skies. Their music is a like a cool drink of water after a long walk through the desert. The songs are hymns to the canyons promising rain to the willows, cowboy pagan spirituals flung at the night sky like so many stars.
Charles' song "Row" was included on "Song and Stories From Grand Canyon", produced by Smithsonian Folkways. Many D-Squared compositions have been featured in films, PBS documentaries, theater, compilation CDs, and other commercial audio projects. D-Squared's song and video, "Little Iraq", charted in the Top Ten on Neil Young's
Living with War Today website.
Charles' debts to the many songwriters and bands that influenced him include Leonard Cohen, John Stewart, Bert Jansch, Trapezoid, Metamora, and the public domain. Gessner was influenced by Eric Satie, French dance music, Irish airs and traditional Jewish melodies.
D-Squared has toured North America playing concerts, coffeehouses, festivals, and private venues. They have shared the stage with Greg Brown, Robin and Linda Williams, Mary McCaslin, Bryan Bowers, Bill Morrissey, Peter Yarrow, John Denver, Chuck Pyle and Don Edwards.
They have performed for thousands of K-12 students through school assembly and artist residency programs and conducted classes on songwriting, arranging and performance.
"They play and sing like Richard and Linda Thompson used to." (Serene Dominic, Phoenix New Times)
Don Charles has been called "one of the best folk songwriters in a long time."
Their first studio recording - "matter of life & death" (1993) - was released under the names Don Charles and Deb Gessner and reflected their deep connection with the land.
They became known as D-Squared upon release of the second recording -"Big Sky Full O' Dumb Stars" (1997) - a personal cosmography with an expansive universal focus.
The third CD - "Accidentally Live"(2006) - captured a Smithsonian sponsored performance honoring the Great American Desert.
The most recent release, "The Garden Wall" (2014), is a collection of all-instrumental tunes featuring folk harp, guitar, banjo, mandola, percussion and a saucy array of free reeds (accordions, concertina, harmonica) wandering down the garden path.
"Unusual, unclassifiable tunes keep the music haunting - familiar and avant-garde at the same time. It is this untenable mystique that makes this music worth investigating."
(Jo Morrison, International Folk Harp Journal)
Deb Gessner's "faux reverent aura framed by her folk harp will trick you if you don't play close attention - her wondrous playing emits a glimmer of humor and hope." (Mariah Fleming, Acoustic Scene)
"Running the whitewater on a raft, the fall of rain on a parched landscape, a child playing a being a bee ... Don Charles and Deb Gessner craft some memorable images by drawing on their Southwestern experiences." (Dirty Linen)