Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

3

Dawes at Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Dawes
Higher Ground
South Burlington, VT
July 21, 2015

Dawes is making up for lost time in 2015. The Los Angeles-based band reasserted themselves as recording artists in the studio with All Your Favorite Bands (Hub Records, 2015) and is now taking the next logical step in their development as a performing unit. In doing so, the group is enhancing an abiding and honest connection with their followers that justified Dawes' position as headliners this mid-summer night (their previous appearance in 2012 found them opening for, and practically stealing the show from, Brett Dennen).

Guitarist Duane Betts, the son of estranged Allman Brothers guitarist Dicky, is acting as catalyst for this evolution of Dawes live. Standing off to stage right, he kept a low profile during the opening numbers including, notably, new numbers "Things Happen" and "Don't Send Me Away," seeming to prefer listening and getting a feel for the night before asserting himself. And assert himself, he did with an abrupt shout-out from frontman guitarist and vocalist Taylor Goldsmith on "Just Below the Surface:" as with each of his successive spotlights during the two hour-plus set, Betts channeled all the passion within the song during his time in the (often belated) spotlight. His intensity, not surprisingly, fired up the audience, increasingly more as the night went on, so that they anticipated his solos with obvious relish: as much as he sounded like a natural guitarist, Duane Betts' understated stage presence only illuminates the elevated level of his musicianship.

The crowd comfortably filling the larger of Higher Ground's two rooms this late July night were clearly devoted Dawes fans. The attendees moved closer to the stage with each successive number and, as a display of their respectful and honest appreciation of the band (in addition to the obvious absence of much overt cell phone usage), hushed themselves to pay rapt attention to Goldsmith's elocution of his finely wrought lyrics and emotive delivery on "A Little Bit of Everything" Even the bar-tending staff lined up as if at attention at one point.

The relative quiet at such junctures was even more striking in contrast to the resonating boom of the band from the very outset of the night. The rhythm section, in fact, commanded attention right away, bassist Wylie Gelber and drummer Griffin Goldsmith locked together and played with an assertive punch that, as much as what Betts adds to the Dawes' live sound, is indicative of the direction in which the band's moving. And transparent as was the first song Taylor's brother sang, "How Far We've Come," it was as well-placed as it was astutely chosen: no longer just a polite albeit erudite folk-rock band, Dawes is now a tighter ensemble than ever, playing with plenty of muscle.

Not that they've abandoned the style at the roots of their music. The group skillfully utilizes conventional song structure to temper the combination of intelligence and emotion in a song such as "If I Wanted Someone. " Such economy is also testament to the discipline and restraint in the carefully devised arrangements of material as "Time Spent in Los Angeles" and "From The Right Angle" (which Taylor Goldsmith explained had its finishing touches applied on the very stage they occupied this mid-summer night).

And, as often as not, Dawes' chief songwriter utilized his own lead guitar playing, in its own way as articulate as his song lyrics, to set things up for Duane Betts: on "From a Window Seat" late in the set, the latter took his cue to ratchet up the intensity in such a way it clearly illustrated that the difference in their respective styles is a microcosm of the band's overall progression

It was no surprise Dawes played an extended encore at Higher Ground, but opening the four-song sequence with Billy Joel's "Big Shot," sung with much gusto by drummer Goldsmith, might've seemed curious had it not been so evident this was means for the quintet to simply play for the fun of it. In so doing, they echoed the lighthearted tone set by taking the stage to the theme of "Ghostbusters."

The gentle crescendos of the instruments at the start of the set might well have been designed to apply focus to the keyboards of Tay Straitharn, especially acoustic piano and organ, that added so much color during the course of the evening. And Dawes never seemed ponderous anyway because they eschew melodrama, even if the other cover they played this night, The Waterboys' "Fisherman's Blues." radiated all the stately panache its author Mike Scott might want.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory Live Reviews We Jazz: Moveable Feast Fest Theory
by Josef Woodard
Published: December 16, 2017
Read We Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Anat Cohen Tentet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017 Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2" Live Reviews Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017" Live Reviews Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017
by John Kelman
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Keystone Korner 45th Anniversary Celebration" Live Reviews Keystone Korner 45th Anniversary Celebration
by Walter Atkins
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival" Live Reviews 38th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 15, 2017
Read "Ostrava Days 2017" Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Panama Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!