The Upshot: With the addition of Dicky Betts’ kid Duane to the lineup, the poppy roots combo expanded its sound to make material from its new album come alive onstage.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER
It was a wet Friday night as Dawes rolled into the NC Museum of Art on their current tour in support of their fourth album All Your Favorite Bands. Given the rain that had fallen all day, thanks to a low pressure system stalled on the coast, the outdoors crowd was smaller than it probably otherwise would have been, but the fans that were there were definitely the die-hards, singing along with all the songs old and new.
To be honest, I had only listened to the new record once, and my immediate impression was that this collection of songs about love and loss didn’t hold up as well alongside their incredibly strong first two records. Well, as with most of my favorite bands (see what I did there?), the tunes took on a new life when played live. Hearing them in concert, alongside the older material, one can hear the development of the Taylor Goldsmith and the band’s songwriting. Notably, the ballad “Now That’s It’s Too Late, Maria” sounded sweet (with Goldsmith throwing down some tasty licks in between the lines), leading perfectly into “Coming Back To A Man from Nothing Is Wrong.” Throughout the night, Taylor and his younger brother Griffin (on drums) provided great sibling harmonies that added depth to Taylor’s words.
For this tour Dawes is augmenting the band with Duane Betts on second guitar, looking, and with his Goldtop Les Paul, sounding, every bit like his father’s son. I was afraid the addition would clutter the arrangements, but the younger Betts proved to be more than tasteful enough, as he added subtle touches and strong leads to the songs, adding a bit of southern style to the band’s LA sound. A standout of the evening was “Somewhere Along The Way,” with Duane taking the solo and Taylor joining in to create a very Allman Brothers-esq harmony lead, drawing applause from the North Carolina crowd.
By mid-set the rain had let up and the band treated us with “Peace in the Valley” which gave everyone, Taylor, Griffin, Duane, keyboardist Tay Strathairn and bassist Wylie Gelber time to stretch out a little. Following the new “Things Happen,” came “A Little Bit of Everything,” which gets me every time, and the celebratory “When My Time Comes.” It may be clichéd at this point to sing along with that song at a Dawes concert, but it feels good and that’s what music is all about, right?
Closing with the title track of their new record, the band put their instruments down and Taylor led the crowd in singing along, “may your brother’s El Camino run forever and may all your favorite bands stay together.” A satisfied audience singing along with Dawes—I couldn’t think of a better way to close the season at Raleigh’s unsung gem of a venue.