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Some musicians strive for fame, for acclaim, attention, and accolades. But others simply seek to burnish their talent until it gleams. The four-man Americana band Dawes is one of the latter. Not that the Los Angeles-based act has any lack of admirers. Dawes' career has been marked by critical acclaim, admirable sales, and impressive collaborations with legends such as Jackson Browne and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers founding member Benmont Tench. But the band is after something more than that. Relentless touring, lyrical ingenuity, and an emphasis on straight-up skill have earned it a reputation for artistic excellence. Whether you're sitting before your stereo or in the front row of an auditorium, you can hear that Dawes is edging its way toward greatness one show, song, and album at a time.
Mother Jones has called Dawes "the hardest-working band in America" for good reason. The group's tour will take its four members all across the continental United States, from Seattle, Baltimore, San Francisco and Birmingham, Alabama, with plenty of stops in-between. UK fans shouldn't be worried about being left out, as the band is making stops at Oslo Hackney in London, The Deaf Institute in Manchester and the Moseley Folk Festival in Birmingham.
The band originally started as post-punk act Simon Dawes, but it shortened its name and ditched the louder, more dissonant sound when co-songwriter Blake Mills left in the late 2000s. Taylor Goldsmith's compositional chops have become so respected in the industry that legendary producer T. Bone Burnett, of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" asked him to help put to music previously lost Bob Dylan lyrics, written in 1967.
Though Dawes' music doesn't get much radio play, its sound has been favourably compared to the Laurel Canyon movement. Think Neil Young or Crosby, Stills & Nash with a little more of a rock-n-roll kick. In addition to Taylor's presence, his brother Griffin Goldsmith handles drums while bassist Wylie Gelber and keyboardist Tay Strathairn round out the lineup.
Though critics roundly praised Dawes' debut, the band didn't start gaining mainstream approval until the release of its third effort, "Stories Don't End." That album hit number 36 on the Billboard 200 and was the number three record on Billboard's U.S. Folk Albums chart.
Dawes has released four full-length albums, putting out "North Hills" and "Nothing Is Wrong" on ATO Records, as well as "Stories Don't End" and "All Your Favorite Bands" on their own Hub Records imprint. Dawes' most successful release, "All Your Favorite Bands" reached No.1 on Billboard's Folk Albums chart, a first for the band and its best commercial performance.
The members of Dawes understand that performing isn't about bright lights, loud amplifiers and smoky special effects. It's about sharing a common passion with the crowd. No wonder the quartet has earned a reputation for being available to fans long after shows are over. "It's why we do it--to connect with people," Taylor explains. That emotional linkage is what keeps the band's member going show after show. If you're holding Dawes tickets, you can not only expect a show with plenty of talent on display, but also an opportunity to connect with those on stage. Not only does the band connect with members after a show, they also engage fans during a show. Sometimes Taylor will "forget" lyrics and request assistance from fans in the front row. Even if you don't get picked, you can sing along with the band.
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