By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 05, 2011 at 11:02 AM

It's been just two years since Cali roots rockers Dawes released "North Hills" on Dave Matthews' ATO Records.

In that time, the band has worked with legends like Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm and Jackson Browne, who guests on Dawes' sophomore effort, "Nothing Is Wrong."

The new record is rooted in the late '60s and '70s tradition of West Coast melodic rock laced with acoustic guitars, great harmonies and a touch of country and roots music. The Browne connection will make perfect sense the minute you hear singer Taylor Goldsmith's voice.

Of course, Dawes has also toured extensively, though mostly as an opening act. Now, on the tour for "Nothing Is Wrong," the quartet shares headlining duties with Portland, Ore., outfit Blitzen Trapper.

That tour lands in Milwaukee Saturday, Nov. 5 for an 8 p.m. gig at Turner Hall. Admission is $15.

We sent keyboardist Tay Strathairn five questions via email and he responded from the road...

OnMilwaukee.com: Two years after your debut was released, you've got a second record that's got Jackson Browne singing on it, you've played with Robbie Robertson and you're playing at Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble. Do you have to pinch yourselves some days?

Tay Strathairn: It's pretty amazing. The fact that I grew up listening to these guys and now we are playing with them is something that I could have only dreamed about. I'm not sure exactly how it happened but it's really a humbling experience to be able to play music with these guys who have such epic and storied careers. I think we are all really grateful to have the opportunity.

OMC: Were you able to cross those off the band's "wish list"? What else is on that list?

TS: There's not really a wish list. I mean we never thought we would be playing with these guys in the first place. You don't want to get ahead of yourself and have expectations or "wishes." Our main hope is that we just get to keep playing music for a long time and hopefully things keep happening.

OMC: How does the double headlining work with Blitzen Trapper? Do you arm wrestle on the bus for top billing every day?

TS: Naw, no arm wrestling. We basically just split up who does the headline slot every night. There's no rivalry. We're lucky to be touring with Blitzen, they're really awesome dudes and a great band.

OMC: The Head and the Heart's Josiah Johnson recently talked to me about the psychological aspects of opening vs. headlining in terms of how a band approaches writing a set list and the band's relationship with the crowd. What's it like when you're co-headlining but playing first?

TS: The only difference is that the set is a little shorter when we play first. The crowds really seem to be a good mix of fans. And its nice being able to hang for a bit at the show before we pack up and leave. It;s fun being on a double bill. It feels like both bands are working together and taking responsibility for the show. I could see how it could be weird in some cases but this isn't one of them.

OMC: You've been to Milwaukee to play before. Do you have any memories of the town or the gig?

TS: I really like Milwaukee. It's got a really great vibe. I've got a friend who lives up there and is always singing its praises and the shows I've played there (Strathairn was also a member of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) have always been gritty and balls to the wall.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.