California has long been romanticized in song. Now folk-rock band Dawes hopes its ode to the Golden State -- "Time Spent in Los Angeles" -- will make waves with a boost from VH1. The Americana act, which released second album "Nothing Is Wrong" (ATO/Sony/RED) in June, is the latest headliner in the cable network's long-running You Oughta Know campaign.
While pop superstars Bruno Mars and Adele number among Know alumni, VH1 executive VP of talent and music programming Rick Krim says his team focuses more on finding the right fit for a mature audience rather than sticking to a specific genre.
"Dawes has great songs, hearkening back to the classic sound of the Band, Jackson Browne and the Eagles. But they do it in a way that's fresh and current," Krim says. "They have the potential to reach a very wide audience."
The ties between the Band and Dawes go beyond Krim's comparison. When the Band's Robbie Robertson needed a backing group for a string of solo appearances, he tapped Dawes, which had garnered notable buzz behind its 2009 debut, "North Hills." That album has sold 32,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Since its release, "Nothing Is Wrong" has sold 26,000 copies and peaked at No. 64 on the Billboard 200.
The quartet, now signed to Q Prime Management, will get additional exposure when "Time Spent in Los Angeles" joins mtvU's video rotation in the coming weeks. Next month, the rootsy rockers will play NPR's "Mountain Stage" show and its "World Cafe" tribute concert, in addition to co-headlining a tour with Blitzen Trapper. The flurry of activity follows a summer on the road, backing and opening for Jackson Browne, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Bright Eyes and M. Ward.
"We're a considerably unestablished band," Dawes frontman Taylor Goldsmith says. "And the only way that's going to change is by not leaving people alone."
"We're pretty realistic about our music and the kind of life it can afford," Goldsmith, who also plays in folk-rock "supergroup" Middle Brother, continues. "We realize that something like U2 or Coldplay is probably not really in the cards, but for us to continue to keep doing what we're doing and nothing more would make us really happy guys. Just to be able to say, 'We made seven albums and we never played a huge stadium, but we played to people who cared about the music and we were able to live making music that we wanted to make.'"