Dawes finds serious fan base in Minnesota

Wylie Gelber, Griffin Goldsmith, Taylor Goldsmith, and Tay Strathairn of the much-adored Dawes
Kevin Hays

"Tell me, what is it about Dawes that drives the girls crazy?" a friend of mine asked as I sat transcribing a phone interview with Dawes's lead singer, Taylor Goldsmith. "Is it because they're all so cute?"

"Of course not," I huffed. But I didn't have a quick answer for him, either, and I had to think—what is it about the folksy rockers that is such a powerful draw for so many people? It's not just young women; the crowds at a Dawes concert make for a diverse collection of fans. And according to Goldsmith, the audience in Minneapolis is uniquely unified in its passion for the music. So, sure, Dawes may be composed of four young, strapping lads who seem to have been born rooted in the tradition of Americana storytelling, but they have certain elements that push them deep into the genre—an authenticity and a soulfulness that aren't easily matched in the modern world of rock 'n' roll.

Goldsmith took time to share his thoughts on success so far, what Minneapolis means to Dawes, and what's next for the band.

City Pages: In all the shows you've put on in Minneapolis, you seem amazed at the response from the crowd. In concert, you've claimed a special kind of love for Minneapolis—what do you enjoy most about our fair city?

Taylor Goldsmith: It seems to be a real rock 'n' roll town. There seems to be a real respect for rock 'n' roll.... There's this pride that a band like the Replacements come from there. It's different in L.A.—we don't really represent L.A., and L.A. isn't really represented by any band. L.A. has that thing where they've seen too much so they're less excited.... That's the thing about Minneapolis that doesn't happen anywhere else.

CP: The November 4 show sold out almost immediately. I noticed there's a special New Year's Eve show at the Varsity. How did that show come about?

Goldsmith: This year we had nothing planned, and our agent told us the Varsity had contacted us about a gig on New Year's, and were we interested? And we were thrilled! There's a chance that if the one on the 31st sells out, we might add a show on the 30th.

CP: You seem so thrilled to be on stage. I know it must get exhausting, the same show night after night. Where do you get the energy from? How do you keep from burning out?

Goldsmith: I don't know...I just feel very lucky. Even now, like yesterday, we were on stage for sound check and Tay [Strathairn] was tuning the piano and I couldn't play the guitar because we had to make sure everything was sounding okay and I was like, man, I just want to play! I wanted him to be done so that we could all just start playing. I'm done just waiting for sound check. Shows are the time of day that we look most forward to, and I know it sounds silly, but we have so much gear, such a huge elaborate setup now.... And it's all us—we're lifting all the gear and putting it all on stage, and I feel like because that takes so much time that it almost gets us more excited, more proud of the thing. Minneapolis will be a very special experience for us because I feel like there's a real community there. I feel like there's a familial quality that drives the relationship we have with that city, and us having a great time like that makes it easy. Nights that we are doing a good job—those are the nights where it's not like a job at all.

CP: When I look at the list of well-known musicians and legendary big names you've collaborated with, it all seems very surreal, from Robbie Robertson to Jackson Browne and more. Are there any collaborations that have blown your mind?

Goldsmith: Yeah, I mean, we still feel that way. It was Jackson Browne's birthday and Griffin texted him just to say, "Happy birthday," and Jackson called him back and Griffin spoke to him on the phone for, like, 20 minutes, and even though we're friends with Jackson and we know him very well at this point, we still look at each other like, "I can't believe we're speaking to Jackson Browne!"

I was always such a fan...if someone had told me that I would meet Jackson Browne, I would have freaked out. To have shared a stage with him is beyond anything. There are so many great bands out there that deserve that, and we are so lucky for some of that to have happened to us.

CP: What's next for Dawes?

Goldsmith: I think for a band like us, it's just to stick to it. I hear a lot of bands that are like, "I want to make this sort of record," or "I want to produce...." We want to leave fans with a catalog. We want to make a third, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and a seventh record, all records that we're very proud of, and never stop, no matter how much bigger it gets or how much smaller it gets from here.

DAWES perform with Blitzen Trapper on FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, at FIRST AVENUE (SOLD OUT), 612.332.1775; and with Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, at the VARSITY THEATER, 612.604.0222

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The Varsity Theater

1308 4th St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414



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