Dawes and Bahamas perform together at Baltimore Soundstage on Sept. 13. 2022. (Photo by Casey Vock)
The USA and Canada have shared in arts and entertainment for just about as long as the two countries have existed, but this late summer the fruitful relationship between these two countries has yielded one of the most fascinating international collaborations live music has seen in some time.
A merger of some of the most alluring and compelling songwriting that each country has to offer, Southern California-based Dawes and Ontario, Canada’s Bahamas announced a co-headlining tour back in the late spring, and that endeavor indeed came to fruition this month with a batch of shows that brought both of these beloved acts to Baltimore Soundstage — together — the night of Sept. 13.
And with one of the more sophisticated and saccharine presentations that the Charm City has ever been so fortunate to host, these two outfits — Dawes, as a group, and Afie Jurvanen, the man who plays as Bahamas — showed that they are like-minded men, gifted musicians and wonderful storytellers through the honest and enduring songs they’ve created.
Though it seemed almost too good to be true, it was as real and as rewarding as any fan of either band had hoped it to be. Then again, it was perhaps an inevitable partnership given all the mutual connections, and the true definition of cooperation, with the group publicizing its intent to back Bahamas for his songs and welcome Afie into their band for Dawes tracks, including those on the newest release, “Misadventures of Doomscroller,” released on Rounder Records back in July.
Stream Dawes’ new studio album, Misadventures of a Doomscroller, via Spotify:
The entire ensemble took the stage to begin the first of two rewarding sets, and from the beginning, Afie — widely regarded as a lavish and masterful electric guitarist — and Dawes lead singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith began the celebration of one another’s compositions, trading them back and forth all night in impressive fashion.
“I’m sure you have the idea,” Goldsmith told the audience early in the engagement. “We’re gonna be going back and forth all night — Bahamas songs and Dawes songs, back to back to back.”
He commented on the assemblage of what was likely fans of either band who might not be as familiar with the other, but they would undoubtedly learn in the packed Inner Harbor venue.
“Some people are meeting for the first time, like a big Thanksgiving,” Goldsmith continued. “Thanks for giving this a shot. We’re gonna do our best for ya. I promise.”
But when has this guy, his mates or their adopted Canadian pal ever really let anyone down?
Goldsmith, whose guitar skills are rapidly advancing while his network continues to grow, was one of the select few to sit on the Newport Folk Festival stage this summer alongside one of the most famed Canadian musicians of all time, Joni Mitchell.
Meanwhile, Bahamas, Jurvanen’s solo vehicle, has gradually worked its way into the hearts of Americans far and wide for his magical abilities as a guitar player and his warmth as a songwriter. With a collection of his own Juno Awards to honor his studio work, including the 2021 Adult Alternative Album of the Year for the Sad Hunk record, Afie has become one of the preeminent musicians coming out of Canada. Every time he does so, he’s met by enthusiastic fans who are lifted up by his presence and his good nature before he even plays his first note.
Stream Bahamas’ 2020 studio album, Sad Hunk, via Spotify:
With eight albums under their belts and having made a name for themselves from coast-to-coast and internationally, Dawes has earned its place as one of the most seasoned, respected American indie rock bands on the block. As a bit of a Newport Folk Festival mainstay, the group has backed the likes of Elvis Costello and J.S. Ondara, proving itself to be dynamic in addition to being highly amicable.
It is a cast of outstanding, down-to-earth musicians — the potent drummer and Taylor’s brother, Griffin, and the groovy Wylie Gelber on bass, both original members, as well as the prolific Lee Pardini on piano and keys and Trevor Menear, an unassuming but remarkably polished and thrilling guitar player.
And as the pandemic wanes, this is a group that has come into its own. Dawes’ latest album has been acclaimed for the ambition and execution in the design: multi-sectioned pieces that speak to the band’s desire for the long jam and even a bit of dark ambiance too.
The new album kicked off the night in Baltimore in the form of an epic take on “Someone Else’s Café / Doomscroller Tries To Relax,” and with Jurvanen providing added robustness to an already rich, defined sound, the band immediately secured the buy-in of an audience that was more than willing on a Tuesday night.
Watch Dawes’ official performance video for “Someone Else’s Cafe / Doomscroller Tries To Relax” via the band’s YouTube channel:
Ticketholders would hear a sampling of every single Dawes studio album and from four of the five Bahamas releases as part of the promised and delivered two-sets of music. A first set that could have served as an entire show for many bands, it was highlighted by the marvelous guitar rotation of Taylor, Afie and Trevor too. But, of course, rising above it all was the gorgeous voices of these two fine vocalists, who could almost be cross-border cousins, with similar vocal slants, just different accents.
Watch the official music video for Bahamas’ single “Own Alone” via the artist’s YouTube channel:
Each man has his own distinguished tone, and they were heard so clearly and beautifully to kick off the second set as Afie began it alone on stage for a solo acoustic cover of Dawes’ “Just My Luck.” Taylor joined him a song later for a fanciful duo presentation of Bahamas’ “Half Your Love.”
There was a momentary stop in the music — a member of the audience suffered a medical emergency and was attended to. But bravo to Taylor for immediately seeing the situation unfold, stopping the music, signaling for staff to help and for even jumping from the stage to try to help himself.
And thanks to the quick response, the music returned a couple minutes later, continuing what would be a night to remember for all of those on hand.
A pairing of two acts with a reputation for sweeping up their listeners, each from disparate backgrounds but so harmonious together, the Dawes and Bahamas double-bill was exactly what attentive concert goers might have expected — extraordinary.
Setlist (D = Dawes song; B = Bahamas song)
Someone Else’s Café/Doomscroller Tries To Relax – D
Own Alone – B
All The Time – B
Still Feel Like A Kid – D
Everything to Everyone – B
Most People – D
Way With Words – B
If I Wanted Someone – D
I Got You Babe – B
Feed the Fire – D
Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song) – B
Just My Luck – B (Afie solo acoustic)
Half Your Love – B (Afie + Taylor Goldsmith)
Caught Me Thinkin’ – B
Comes In Waves – D
Waves – B
When My Time Comes – D
Trick to Happy – B
Roll With the Punches – D
Lost In The Light – B
Things Happen – D
Stronger Than That – B
All Your Favorite Bands – D
Here are images of Dawes and Bahamas performing together at Baltimore Soundstage on Sept. 13, 2022. All photos copyright and courtesy of Casey Vock.