Don "Oja" Dunaway
St. Augustine’s Don Oja Dunaway has been a steadfast, vital component of the local folk music scene for over forty years. He is the mainstay of music at the famed Milltop Tavern on St. George Street, arranging the venue’s three performances a day, seven days a week, for over four decades. Don himself played there six days a week up until five years ago, branding himself the cornerstone of the most prestigious listening room in town. Mentored by the influential and memorable late Gamble Rogers, Don holds tight to the musical lessons learned from this iconic songwriter and nationally touring troubadour. Forging his own style through a lifetime of experimental folk, alternative Americana, and acoustic guitar percussion, Don relishes in the fact that no one has a sound like his. Performing in bizarre guitar tunings and manipulating his vocal cords into a sea of different layers, Don relies heavily on the percussive rhythm he creates from the body of his guitar while simultaneously harnessing the power of the strings.
A 2018 St. Augustine Music Hall of Fame First Class Inductee, Don prides himself on the musical community he has built through education, opportunity, and networking. His on-stage presence is as spiritual as a sunrise over the Atlantic and his execution of both original and cover songs is what makes him a one-of-a-kind performer. He is determined to break the bonds of expectation on stage, structuring songs in a way that is highly inventive and borders on the divine genius most musicians chase after their whole lives. He has created for himself an otherworldly musical domain and holds the key to its intimate, holy ground. Weaving stories out of experiences of the human condition, Don’s songwriting is comparable to the supreme storytellers in history, such as Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Gamble Rogers. Don is featured on St. Augustine’s folk music documentary Local Honey and at the age of 73 still continues to strive for new ways of achieving his distinguished and out-of-this-world style of sound.