Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 4:00 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Paul Mann: In an Experiment Gone Right, Dawes Plays Extended Jam with Blake Mills

Dawes — the mesmerizing, indie folk-rock band from Los Angeles — brought its brilliant sound to the newly reopened Lobero Theatre on Dec 11.

Venice-based singer guitarist Blake Mills was advertised as the opening act but, in a strategic move, Dawes decided instead to integrate the talented musician into its dual sets of experimental music. It actually wasn't much of a stretch to employ Mills' talent this way. Although they haven't played together in a while, Mills was part of the original band Simon Dawes, which featured guitarist Taylor Goldsmith and bassist Wylie Gelber, who both went on to form Dawes.

They were joined by Goldsmith's brother, Griffin, on drums and keyboardist Tay Strathairn to complete the new Dawes band. Goldsmith is the charismatic lead singer and songwriter for Dawes. With a distinctive voice and exceptional guitar skills, he leads the band in and out of tightly structured rock segments, dripping with an infusion of classic American folk and country rock. Elements of The Band, Poco and even Gram Parsons can be heard in Dawes' rich sound. But Goldsmith's powerful vocals and the group's jam-band style creates a sound that Dawes can claim as its own.

About five songs into the show, Goldsmith introduced Mills.

“Usually you have an opening band that plays the first set," he said. "But we're trying something different tonight. We're going to have Blake join us and experiment with the music.”

The experiment was a resounding success with Mills' own exquisite vocal and guitar skills meshing perfectly with Dawes. The 25-year-old Mills has already racked up an impressive array of sessions work with musicians as diverse as Lucinda Williams to Fiona Apple. He is a go-to favorite studio guitarist for legendary producer Rick Rubin.

The concert featured songs from Dawes' new album, Stories Don't End, as well as a number of songs from Mills' album, Break Mirrors. The seamless blending of music by Dawes and Mills was best portrayed on the song “Hey Lover” from Stories Don't End. In that tune, which was originally penned by Mills, Taylor Goldsmith traded lead vocals with his younger brother, Griffin, while Mills traded guitar riffs with Taylor.

The band played two full sets, the second of which delved into older material and some covers, with a more fierce jam-band approach to the songs. The near three-hour concert seemed to be a hit with an enraptured audience on a sleepy winter night in Santa Barbara.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributing writer. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >