Indie-rock Dawes is about taking chances on tour and in new album

Dawes will play the NC Museum of Art on May 17, 2019.
Dawes will play the NC Museum of Art on May 17, 2019.

Taylor Dawes Goldsmith has it pretty good. Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty are fans of his band, Dawes. The singer-songwriter of the folk rock band is married to actress Mandy Moore, who stars in the NBC hit, “This Is Us.”

He was also part of “The Basement Tapes Project,” which includes Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford.

Goldsmith, 33, and his band will help kick off the North Carolina Museum of Art’s summer concert series May 17. Dawes includes Goldsmith, his brother Griffin Goldsmith on drums, Wylie Gelber on bass and Lee Pardini on keyboard.

He spoke to The News & Observer by phone from Los Angeles to talk about meeting Springsteen and his band’s 2018 album, “Passwords.”

Q: The theme of “Passwords” is communication. In song you touch on how different teens communication skills are from adults. Can you elaborate?

A: It’s fascinating. It’s easy to look at kids sitting around a campfire looking at their phones and to think, “What a shame.” But I think they’re going to be more advanced in terms of communication than my generation.

Q: You also look back during the tender love song “Never Gonna Say Goodbye.” You reference “Say Anything” with the line “Cusack holding that stereo.”

A: A lot of ground is covered with “Passwords.” We went in some different directions and took some chances.

Q: You get lumped into the “Laurel Canyon” sound due to the instruments you use and since you’re from Los Angeles. Does that bother you since there is so much more to your band?

A: There is a sort of tradition that I come from. I play guitar and sing. Unfortunately it’s easy to just label us as part of a Laurel Canyon sound. What we try to do is to be unique. I aspire to be someone like Gillian Welch. What she does is play part of a group with two acoustic guitars with harmonies. She plays folk. However, there is no one that sounds like Gillian Welch. I aspire to come up with a unique sound like she has.

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Q: You have as much in common with Paul Westerberg of Replacements fame than perhaps any contemporary songwriter.

A: I appreciate that. I love him so much.

Q: Westerberg never received the acclaim he deserves.

A: I couldn’t agree more. I think people look at his work in the Replacements and think of the punk aspect of it, and some people might dismiss it. Westerberg is a great writer. He wrote some of the deepest and best songs you’ll ever hear.

Q: What recent concert had a huge impact on you?

A: Seeing Nick Cave at the forum. He’s one of my favorite songwriters. What’s amazing about Cave is that he has no hits, but as time passed he has picked up so many fans due to continuing to play out.

Q: Dawes is all about albums, just like Nick Cave.

A: It’s the best. I love where we are as a band. However, if we did write a song and it took radio by storm, I would be fine with that. If we set out to make a hit, the fans would know. We could never do that.

Q: How close are you to a new album?

A: We’re very close. The new album will be out next year.

Q: What was it like performing at South By Southwest with John Fogerty, who praised Dawes as a great, young rock band.

A: That kind of validation is among the biggest thrills of my life. When one of your heroes is into what you do, then you’ve arrived.

Q: What hero has flipped you out the most?

A: It was when I met Bruce Springsteen last year around New Year’s on Broadway at his show. His performance was amazing. I cried over and over. I didn’t know what would happen after the show. I thought I was the plus-one. I thought maybe he wanted to meet my wife. He walks right up to me and says, “How’s the band, man?” I thought that maybe he said that because someone told him that I was in a band. But he came back to me later and said, “Are you still out in LA?” He was nice to my wife but didn’t say anything about her show. She knows I’m a huge fan.

Q: What did you cry about during the Springsteen show?

A: When Bruce talked about his dad and (the late) Clarence (Clemons).

Q: What’s it like to be married to a star like Mandy Moore?

A: It’s an honor that I get to watch her back and support her as much as I can. I know I’ve led this charmed life. I can’t ask for anything more.

Q: What is it going to be like playing a museum when you come to Durham?

A: I appreciate those spaces. We’re thrilled to play an offbeat place. Our music fits with it. I love playing unusual venues.


Who: An Evening with Dawes

When: 8 p.m. May 17. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Where: North Carolina Museum of Art, Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater in the Museum Park, 2100 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh

Tickets: $40 reserved, $30 general admission ($36 and $27 for museum members)

Info: 919-715-5923 or ncartmuseum.org

Summer concerts

Here are dates for upcoming concerts at the museum.

June 14: Steep Canyon Rangers with Chatham Rabbits

June 22: Trampled by Turtles with Deer Tick

July 2: Courtney Barnett

July 13: Andrew Bird with Tift Merritt

July 23: Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers and Amos Lee

July 27: John Butler Trio with Trevor Hall

Aug. 7: Lyle Lovett and HIs Large Band

Aug. 24: Old Crow Medicine Show

Aug. 29: Chaka Khan

Aug. 31: Mipso

Sept. 14: Snarky Puppy

Sept. 25: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

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