June 2013 Newsletter
Monday, May 20, 2013
WHY I CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF DAWES
After a youth of weekly bicycle pilgrimages to the record store, I still can't quite get my head around being able to access the entirety of recorded music with a few keystrokes. There is no longer any need to get on my bicycle, let alone out of bed, to get new music. Technology has made it easier for artists to produce and disseminate their wares, so new music is generated at a faster rate than ever before. This casual proximity to an infinite source of music, like sipping from a fire hydrant, has made it harder for me to connect with new artists.
All of this helps make falling for a new band feel that much more special when it still happens, and my most recent obsession is with the California-based band Dawes. They were first brought to my attention by Zack Hickman, who campaigned for me to cover Dawes' "When My Time Comes" on the Barnstar! debut. My initial reaction to the group was the same as it is when I hear most promising new bands: do I have the time and energy to start a new relationship?
Much the same way the pace of our news cycle has quickened, new bands come and go so easily now. In the internet age, musical movements are seemingly built on nothing more than ironic facial hair and the hope of placing a song as background music in a TV show or commercial. The new norm seems to be a catchy song that sounds fine as a soundtrack for something else, but inevitably shrivels up the closer you pay attention to it. By comparison, with its classic by four piece lineup, songs with breezy choruses and guitar solos you can whistle from memory, Dawes is a bit of a throwback. They spend a lot of time living this down in the press, to critics who don't appreciate the difference between aping an influence and trying to mine the same vein your heroes once did.
There is a long list of things I love about this band: The way they remain dedicated to the album format, with the 10th or 11th song being every bit as good as the lead track. The way that their songs reward careful attention, offering up new lyrical details and sonic flourishes upon repeated listening. The way they record mainly live, trusting in the power of four guys making music in a room. The way they SING and PLAY, like they mean it, as opposed to whispering and caressing strings so gingerly that everything requires a ton of compression. The cheesy, overly-literal 80's throwback vibe of a rock n' roll band lipsynching on an airplane in the video for their new single "From A Window Seat." The way they seem like scrappy, hard-working underdogs compared to some of their higher profile contemporaries. The way they haven't seemed to "peak" yet, like their best songs are still to come. I could go on and on.
I'm going to see Dawes for my 39th birthday when they come through Boston later this month. I fully expect to have the same reaction that I have when I witness all great music--I'll be singing along to every song, alternately debating whether to go home and practice after the show or quit music altogether. Thank you, Dawes, for reminding me to leave a little room in my life to fall in love with a new band. I'm in the fanclub and I can't wait to hear where you take it from here.
MP3 of the MONTH: Can't write a love letter to Dawes without offering up a cover of one of their songs for the monthly track. I recorded this version of their song "Moon In The Water" in my basement, playing all the instruments myself. Had a blast doing it and I'm excited to offer it you on my Bandcamp page. You can download it for free for the month of June, hope you dig it.
Mon June 3 - Passim, Cambridge MA - 7 & 9:30 pm
I just sold this place out so to come back so soon and open for another artist, they'd have to be really good. This is why I'm so honored to announce I'll be opening for one of my favorite bluegrass groups Della Mae. To sweeten the deal, I'll be performing as a duo with none other than banjoman and fellow Barnstar! member Charlie Rose.
Sat June 8 - Bull Run, Shirley MA - 8 pm
If you need a drink on June 8, this venue has been serving thirsty travelers since 1740 so I think they'll have you covered. If you need to hear Lori McKenna play some great songs accompanied by yours truly, then we'll have you covered. I'll also be opening the show with a set of my own songs. Boom!
Sat June 1 - Rock N' Doc Festival, Foxboro MA **with Lori McKenna
Fri June 7 - CT Audubon Society, Pomfret CT**
Thu June 13 - Sunset Music Festival, Leawood KS^^with Paula Cole
Sat June 15 - Passim, Cambridge MA ++with Jake Armerding
Fri June 28 - CSPS, Cedar Rapids IA^^
Sat June 29 - Ravinia, Highland Park IL^^
ON THE HORIZON:
July 5 - Oskar Blues, Lyons CO (with Barnstar!)
July 6 - Bluegrass In Paradise, Crested Butte CO (with Barnstar!)