Dawes at the 2012 Newport Folk Festivaldawescloseup6web


Photography and Review by Bluebird

This year, the Newport Folk Festival was sold out for months in advance of the show. It drew tens of thousands to Newport, Rhode Island, from all over the Northeast US and beyond. Some of these people have been attending this annual event for generations. There was a time when the budget for this global talent gathering was scarce. During these droughts, the loyal music aficionados, rock snobs and bluegrass historians, still came to support local regional music and folk traditions.

In mingling with the crowd this year and talking to fans at this event, I learned it is this core culture that keeps the bar for the acts as they come through. They talk about each band in great detail, including their connections with folk and music history, as well as regional presence. There are many terms that I learned Folk Festers use, to describe if they approve of an artist's music to be in the line-up of the Newport Folk Festival: "appropriate," "in the folk tradition," "in line with the history of folk," and, of course, ~ "Dylanesque."

Simultaneous to the folk and bluegrass that frames the permeable boundaries of this art, is a new wave of younger, Folk Fest revelers, who are jumping right in to hear their contemporary favorites. 'My Morning Jacket" "Deer Tick" and "Conor Oberst" to name a few. In a myriad of harmonies, the generational Folk followers that I spoke to, said they approved of these bands too, and hailed them as fitting into the storytelling chapters that would dawn the days to come. "Eclectic" the generational Folk Festers say of these new infusions of sound, "a fresh perspective."

And then there was DAWES!


Walking around the beautiful fields, the sea air, water and sunshine, made a great backdrop for any music production. Tie-dyed everything, leather belts, and vendors with hand made jewelry, were just the atmospheric touches I expected at Fort Adams State Park. The crowds were many, but warm and friendly, so excited to be there, and I was a student of their knowledge as most were music fact encyclopedias. newportfolkfestguitarwebClean water act faucets and fountains, hula hoops spinning with girls meeting and greeting each other near the kids tent, and impromptu guitar performances from fans in the Martin & Co. guitar tent, signaled that happy joy and folkie fun has arrived. Colorful crowds were ferried by water taxi from early morning, until soon after the last band, This was the best time to chat with people about anything, from music, to the best back packs and tarps needed for these types of events. One of the producers of the festival was on one of the water taxi's, and a fan thanked him for extra toilet paper in the bathroom!

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And then there was DAWES!

~ From Pemberton Roach, All Music Guide.

Formed in the Los Angeles suburb of North Hills, the unit was heavily influenced by the gentle, acoustic-based musical trappings and rich vocal harmony of the Laurel Canyon sound (Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell), as well as by the shambling, romanticized Americana of the Band. After connecting with producer Jonathan Wilson, the group began participating in informal jam sessions at Wilson's house with Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, the Heartbreakers' Benmont Tench, and the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson. The loose feel of these get-togethers informed the group's aptly titled 2009 debut North Hills. The album was actually recorded in Laurel Canyon live to analog tape, which lent Dawes' recorded sound an authentically vintage vibe. The group soon embarked on an extensive tour in support of the disc (often sharing the bill with wild-man indie folk singer Langhorne Slim), bringing its spare, earthy sound to audiences across the United States.


~ Meet Dawes:

Taylor Goldsmith- lead vocals/guitar

Griffin Goldsmith- drums

Wylie Weber- bass

Alex Casnoff- guitar

Tay Strathairn- piano/keys

~ Live show review from the Fort Stage, Newport Folk Festival, 2012.

The members of Dawes vibrated to the edge of the Fort stage, while Griffin Goldsmith topped it off with a drum sequence that made everyone hang on the edges of each note. "So many friends are here, it is like a family reunion. It means so much to us, it's hard to articulate," said Taylor Goldsmith. With power and energy, a vocal range marathon, and a good dose of guitar realism, Dawes successfully brought this folk fest to an unapologizingly rock jam. Dawes took the word 'genre' today and exploded it out of the Newport Harbor. I think the Folk Fest historians are going to have to come up with new words as this event keeps getting more interesting.

Still, inspirational ballads that cut to the core of human nature were abundant and provided the feel-good-grounded, put-your-soul-back-in-the-right-place inspiration we seek in not only folk music, but all music. "How Far We've Come" was a great example of this. "There's something wrong with a good bye, in the middle of the day ..." "When My Time Comes" was joined by the singer from Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit. Jumping through a great guitar solo, the entire crowd was on its feet, singing at the top of their voices. This is a great band.


Their stage act is not an act. It comes from who these musicians are physically, neurologically. The FACES on the Goldsmith brothers are becoming iconic already. They come through, not only in singing their songs, but by expressing every note with facial expressions we never knew were possible. Griffin followed the sounds of the guitar work that was soaring. Wylie Weber's bass laid down solid grooves that tied it all together. Tay Strathairn was great on piano, rounding out these fast moving pieces, bringing warmth to the huge waterfront stage.


Teams of followers were singing every word that came from the Dawes performance. "I want you to make the days move easy." Bubbles flew over the crowd as nightfall approached and the hot summer temperature cooled. "It's a little bit of everything." Harry Chapin's voice was in my head around this time, I think there are some deep vocal overlaps in Taylor's voice with Mr. Chapin's soul scraping lows. A great smile came from Taylor as he announced a new song, "From A Window Seat." This was one of my favorites and the guitar vibe reminded me of Dire Straits. "Peace In The Valley," was striking, a performance that really has staying power. And staying power indeed was not only in clear view for Dawes, but for the Newport Folk Festival itself. The balance of new generations of music, with historic forms of expression in the folk tradition, brought a theme of exciting longevity to the festival this year. 


Click here for more photos from this show!

Dawes performed again the next day at the Newport Folk Festival with legendary songwriter, Jackson Browne. To read this review and see photos, click here.

To hear the DAWES performance live. Click this link from NPR:


Dawes toured with Langhorne Slim. We have extensive coverage on Langhorne here on the website, including an interview from 2011.

Click here to read an interview with Langhorne Slim.

Set List: newportfolkfestbannerweb

(as posted by Setlistfm.com)

My Girl To Me

The Way You Laugh

How Far We've Come

Fire Away

When My Time Comes

Coming Back To A Man

If I Wanted Someone

A Little Bit of Everything

From A Window Seat

Peace In The Valley

Time Spent in Los Angeles

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And many thanks to FANCHEEZICAL ... What is better than a thick dreamy grilled cheese at 10:00 am?

Hope to see you next year!