Dahlander grew up in Dallas, Texas as a fan of the Beatles and 70’s pop music. He played trombone throughout middle and high school but eventually got interested in piano, especially after hearing December by George Winston. He eventually sought out W.A. Mathieu (Windham Hill and Narada) to become his teacher.
From 1995-2000, Dahlander recorded 3 CDs (Piano Landscapes v.1, Piano Landscapes v.2 and Piano Landscapes v.3) for Dallas-based independent label Carpe Diem Records (Rhett Miller, Course of Empire, Kacy Crowley, Café Noir).
His fourth CD, Songs for Smiler McGee, comes following a 17-year break between his last full-length CD. In between, Dahlander and his wife Heidi experienced the joy, challenges, triumphs and ultimately pain of raising—and losing—a medically fragile child. Jared, who was born with a rare genetic syndrome, died just days before his 14th birthday. The songs on “Smiler McGee” (one of many nicknames for Jared) are, for the most, songs created as a form of catharsis that reflect the ups and downs of Dahlander’s family’s journey.