The members of Dawes were excited to score prime slots at this year’s Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza festivals — especially since the band’s 19-year-old drummer Griffin Goldsmith is still underage at many venues.
Dawes is one of the new buzz bands in the music industry, and yes, the players are all 19 to 24 years old. The act’s brand of heartfelt California rock and soul music is resonating with fans, and that’s opening doors it takes most bands years to discover.
Who: Dawes, with Ramaya
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder
The young group also earned two back-to-back bookings in Boulder.
Saturday, Dawes plays a headlining show at the Fox Theatre. The group then returns to Boulder to play a free, outdoor showcase at August’s FMQB Triple A Music Conference.
“It’s all been very eye-opening for us,” vocalist/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith said. “We realize that we still have a lot of work to do. We’re barely scraping the surface, but we feel very inspired and motivated.”
The Goldsmith brothers did have a head start in the music industry. Their father, Lenny Goldsmith, served as lead singer for Tower of Power from 1984 to 1986, and he co-founded the ’70s rock band Sweathog.
“Our dad’s music was always so good and we learned a lot from him,” Goldsmith said. “We mainly learned a real strong sense of a work ethic. If someone’s sick or there’s a faulty PA, the show has to go on.
“That dedication rubbed off on me and my brother in a big way. Our dad showed us how to play piano, and he always played us great records by Otis Redding and James Brown.”
Goldsmith and his bandmates started off playing in the punk-rock band Simon Dawes. The Dawes part of the name paid homage to the brothers’ fiddle-playing granddad.
However, the musicians found their tastes leaning towards more of a California rock, folk and soul sound. The players reformed the band and shortened the name to Dawes.
“We were really young when we played in Simon Dawes, and we were into a lot of David Bowie and Elvis Costello,” Goldsmith said. “It was a natural change to become Dawes. There was nothing intentional.
“We’re big fans of music that came out of California and that became a big part of our sound. The songs I write are folk, but when played with the band they become more rock and R&B. It really is American rock.”
Dawes’ brand of soulful rock was the right sound at the right time.
The group was asked to join a California jam session that featured Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, The Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench.
The all-star sessions led to Dawes’ debut record, North Hills, and a deal with Dave Matthews’ ATO Records.
“A big part of making this record involved using all analog and then mixing it down,” Goldsmith said. “There were no computers involved — this was all done live.
“We wanted to definitely have songs that would stand on their own. We didn’t want any extra thrills. The songs are the priority with every decision we make.”
Dawes’ lyrics are very insightful for such a young band, and the group’s vocal harmonies really bring out the words to each song. These tunes are clicking with fans and the band’s career has hit the fast track.
“We look at some of these bands that have been overnight sensations, but they also leave that quick,” Goldsmith said. “We’d rather be a slow build and be a band that fans want to invest some time in.
“We’re not looking for a hit. We want to be more patient and move into this as a more of a career band. Look at The White Stripes, they weren’t recognized on a mass scale until they were already into their career.”
That’s why the members of Dawes put their heart and soul into every performance.
“I feel that live touring is a big aspect of a band,” Goldsmith said. “We play and sing hard, and try to make every live show as good as it can be.
“That’s why we have better slots at festivals than we might have had as a newer band. What we do on stage has a lot to do with festivals and venues inviting us to play. Hopefully, people will come to the Fox and make it a fun night.”