Starting Gate The Memphis Dawls, (self-released)
As their burgeoning career continues to develop, the Memphis Dawls just keep getting better and better, not only in terms of songwriting maturity and confidence within their chosen musical style (throwback country/folk) but especially when it comes to vocal interplay between the group’s primary trio of guitarist Holly Cole, cellist Jana Misener, and multi-instrumentalist Krista Wroten.
The upward trend continues on the Dawls’ latest two-song single, named for the epic ballad on side B, “Starting Gate.” But for my money, the more upbeat, countrified A-side, “Where’d You Go My Love,” is the real gem of the pair, if only because it’s just a bit more fun. Both cuts are winners, though, and both were beautifully produced and cut to vinyl by local recording ace Jeff Powell (the Afghan Whigs, Big Star) to boot. Grade: A- by J.D. Reager – The Memphis Flyer
After opening for Emmylou Harris at the Levitt Shell last year, the Memphis Dawls — Holly Cole, Jana Misener, and Krista Wroten — received an open invitation to headline their own show for the venue’s next spring/summer concert season.
The Dawls could have played their typical set at the Shell, but, instead, according to Wroten, they wanted to “take advantage of the space” to put on a special show.
“We wanted to spread our wings a bit,” Wroten says. The result is a USO-themed concert the trio will preside over at the Shell this Saturday, June 29th. “The Saturday before the Fourth of July was open, and we thought that would be perfect,” Wroten says.
“We had liked the Andrews Sisters, and I mentioned to [Wroten and Misener], let’s do a Fourth of July show of Andrews Sisters. We could do the harmonies, and it would be so much fun,” Cole says. “But the band was also working on string arrangements for our own material, and it grew into something bigger.”
The USO — United Service Organization — has provided entertainment and support for U.S. troops from 1941 to the present, but the Dawls will take their inspiration from the classic WWII USO shows, the era of the Andrews Sisters and Bob Hope. Local actor G.B. Shannon will emcee the show and do comedy sets in between the music and in the spirt of Hope.
The Dawls will perform two sets. The first will showcase original material alongside an eight-piece chamber orchestra and recruited-for-the-show rhythm section Mark Edgar Stuart and John Argroves. The Dawls will return for a second set, in full Andrews Sisters attire, for ’40s-era songs alongside the Memphis Doctors big band.
During the show, care-package items will be collected for distribution to U.S. troops stationed overseas. A “wish list” of desired care-package items can be found via the band’s website at thememphisdawls.com.
“We’re hoping this will go well enough that we can do it again,” Wroten says. – Chris Herrington – The Memphis Flyer
The Memphis Dawls are a local folk “supergroup” of sorts. The trio of Holly Cole, Krista Wroten and Jana Misener have extensive experience with other projects, like Amy LaVere, in the Memphis area, but they started making music together in high school. The Dawls opened for Jack White when he stopped by Memphis this March, and he liked them so much he invited them to tour with him on a few other dates afterward. Can’t blame him for being entranced, though; the Dawls’ romantic harmonies and gothic storytelling tend to get under your skin. – Lane Billings – Paste Magazine
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