Taylor Goldsmith Marches to His Own Mellow Beat, One Dallas Appearance at a Time

Taylor Goldsmith (far right) and Dawes return to Dallas on Nov. 3.
Taylor Goldsmith (far right) and Dawes return to Dallas on Nov. 3. Magdalena Wosinska

Taylor Goldsmith has been going strong with his band, Dawes, for nearly a decade. The Los Angeles-based folk-rock quartet that features bassist Wylie Gelber, keyboardist Lee Pardini and Taylor’s brother Griffin on drums, have recorded six studio albums in this limited time, including the recently released Passwords.

A large part of their success is due to their frequent touring schedule, which has seen them build steady, yet increasingly larger audiences in all corners of the country. Turns out, one of their biggest areas of support is found right here in Dallas.

“Early on, I think in 2011, we were opening and doing some headlining shows of our own when we sat down and started doing the math. We realized that we had been to Dallas, I think, five times in one year, whether it was as a supporting act or just for our own shows. It’s always been incredible, from the small venues to the larger ones,” Goldsmith enthusiastically offers as he spoke with the Observer, via phone from his L.A. home. “The response from Dallas has been close. It’s much more of a music city than I think people who don’t live there realize.”

“The response from Dallas has been close. It’s much more of a music city than I think people who don’t live there realize.” – Taylor Goldsmith

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Goldsmith’s memories have served him well. Over the years, Dawes has been a Dallas staple, gracing many local stages, from Sons of Hermann Hall and The Granada Theater to Index Fest, Good Records in-stores and a recent stop at American Airlines Center opening for Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Saturday’s performance at The Bomb Factory will mark their second appearance at the cavernous Deep Ellum performance space.

As always, touring heavily is in the cards for Dawes this upcoming year, but as opposed to the past, things will go a little slower this time. For starters, marriage is in the air. Gelber recently tied the knot, and Goldsmith is busy planning a wedding to actress Mandy Moore, an experience that has landed the laid-back singer-songwriter a good deal of print space in tabloids lately.

“The way I look at it is that I don’t want to slow down,” Goldsmith explains. “Back in the day, if we were asked to do eight weeks of touring, we would have done eight weeks. Now, we’re at a place where we would do three weeks, then take a break, then do three more weeks, take a break, and finish up the last two. That might mean losing a bit of money, but who cares.”

It appears Goldsmith is highly conscious of something most of the rest of us working stiffs are, as well: the search for work-life balance. It’s a tricky balancing act, but one he’s looking to fully embrace. He lays things out logically.

“There was such a large part of our career where my life was on the road," he says. "It felt like the rest of my life was on pause until I got back home. And, while I still love playing and I can’t wait to get back out there again next week, that formula is a little turned around now. My life exists with my fiancée and my friends and family. I have to put that on pause now, when we go on the road. I always knew this would be the case, but now it’s just a matter of how do we age with this?”

Extremely affable and an engaging conversationalist, Goldsmith was also quick to point out how little outside perceptions matter to him. The “dad rock” tag has been applied to Dawes’ music since the beginning, and while other artists might make a more forward effort to combat that, Goldsmith stays true to himself. He takes solace in working on his craft, and cites kindred spirits Conor Oberst and Cass McCombs as inspirations. A guiding light while writing songs for Passwords was Texas’ own, James McMurtry.

“Yeah, he was a big one, particularly when I wrote ‘Crack The Case,’” Goldsmith admits. “It’s funny, but a couple years ago, I didn’t even know who he was, but now he’s a huge influence.

“For me, I’ve always wanted to do the best I could of representing where I’m at in my life at the current juncture of when I’m writing a song. And if that means that I’m writing a song about entering my mid-30s, and getting married, and all this stuff that’s more adult than heartbreak, drug use or club life, then that’s fine.”

And, as for those who scoff at that non-traditional rock 'n' roll ethos, well, don’t expect Goldsmith to put on a show just for the sake of appearances.

“Back when we made [2009’s] North Hills and [2011’s] Nothing Is Wrong, I wouldn’t go on stage unless I had three beers under my belt,” Goldsmith says with a chuckle of fond remembrance. “I was never a crazy drinker, but now when I go out, I can’t have a glass of anything for the whole tour because it will completely mess up my voice program. Sure, that may not be the most rock 'n' roll thing to say, but it’s where I’m at now.”

Dawes will play two sets at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St. Tickets are $32.50.
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Jeff Strowe now calls DFW home after stints living in Raleigh, North Carolina, and New York City. He enjoys writing about music, books, beer/wine and sports. His work is also featured in Glide Magazine and PopMatters, and he has written for No Depression.