Dawes w/ Blake Mills. Photo by Kelly Jensen.
At 7:30 p.m. last night, it was decided that we would not be going to the Dawes show in Port Chester that was to start at 8 p.m. My lady and me, that is. But wait… last minute tickets are being offered… should we? Oh hell, let’s just go. If we don’t, we may regret it.
Shovels and Rope, the opener, were finishing up when we arrived. It’s a boy/girl duo with him on guitar/vocals and her on drums/keys/vocals (simultaneously). Pretty tight and genuine, aggressive and bluesy stuff. I’d be up for checking them out again some time for a full set. Lucky for me, they’re playing the Newport Folk Festival on Saturday, and I’m going to be there.
Dawes took the stage around 9:15, and we were immediately glad and relieved we’d come. Blake Mills was sitting in on second guitar. We. Love. Blake. Mills. His debut album Break Mirrors is one of the great albums of the 2010s, and if you ask me about it again in 7 years at the end of the decade, I will stand by that statement. Mills was in the band Simon Dawes with all the other dudes in Dawes, the precursor to the current band. They grew up together. Mills is also a guitar virtuoso. Eric Clapton even asked him to play at this year’s Crossroads Guitar Festival at MSG. Dawes usually only has one guitar, so to have some skillful rhythm playing added was a real treat.
Dawes frontman Goldsmith nodded to the Capitol Theatre and it’s illustrious history and how this was going to be a special show. And it was.
They proceeded to play for over two hours, racking up a long set list of songs from their three albums with a heavy emphasis on the new record. Highlights were the opener “From a Window Seat,” “My Girl to Me,” “A Little Bit of Everything” (which Bob Dylan complimented Goldsmith on as being a great song upon completion of their recent tour together. Read about that in Esquire right here.) and of course, “When My Time Comes,” their most well-known crowd singalong. Fans were treated to extended jamming and solo-trading, an acknowledgement of the acts that played the Cap back in the day, like the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Derek and the Dominos and Pink Floyd.
A few Blake Mills tunes were mixed in for good measure, showing off his emotive vocals and his delicate and intricate guitar work. His solos were always an event unto themselves, meandering into unexpected territory, a unique combination of well-informed jazz chops, shredding and Eastern influences, all wrapped up into one.
The first song of the encore was “Hey Lover,” a Mills song from Break Mirrors that Dawes just included their own version of on their newest album Stories Don’t End. It also happens to be “our” song, hers and mine, which is pretty crazy considering Mills wasn’t even an announced guest. Then they welcomed Shovels and Rope back to the stage for a cover of the Traveling Wilbury’s “End of the Line.” Hell yeah.
Tomorrow, Friday, Blake Mills is playing Newport Folk Festival at 3:45 p.m. Don’t you wonder who his backing band will be? And Dawes is playing an NFF after party on both Friday and Saturday nights with their “friends.” Hopefully you already have tickets, because those shows are sold out.