Fresh off ‘The Voice,’ Hawkes & Dawn make Levitt stop in Arlington

05/30/2014 11:53 PM

05/30/2014 11:54 PM

Chris Hawkes and Miranda Dawn, two Austin-based singer-songwriters, danced together for the first time four years ago.

That was the first step on a journey that has seen them become an increasingly successful indie-folk duo called Dawn & Hawkes.

They brought their beautiful music to the Levitt Pavilion Friday for a capacity crowd on a gently pleasant evening.

It was a homecoming for Arlington native Hawkes as well as bandmates Clint Simmons and Lamar Stockton. All three graduated from Arlington High School but had never met until they did so in Austin.

Dawn & Hawkes gained a larger audience during the just-concluded season of NBC’s The Voice, as a part of Team Adam (Levine).

Their 2-year-old debut Golden Heart cracked the top 25 of the Billboard folk chart. They performed several songs from that and a full-length project that is currently under construction.

Their summer tour calendar includes dates all over the country and all around Texas. Hawkes said that is normal.

“There’s really no standard [schedule] for us,” he said. “We go through seasons like every band, of touring, writing and recording. I can’t tell a difference in bookings since The Voice.”

Hawkes has played the Levitt before, on his first solo tour years ago. A graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton with a degree in art, Hawkes learned to love music at home.

“A lot of my family is still in Arlington, the Hawkeses and the Goodyears,” he said. They were all a musical bunch, he recalled, and with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, they would stage their own family Christmas pageants and pass around sheet music for singing.

His grandfather Charles Hawkes was always quick-witted, Hawkes said, and his great-uncle George Hawkes, longtime publisher of the Citizen-Journal and namesake of the downtown library, passed down a similar legacy.

“They were mentors, if for nothing else, just by their example,” Hawkes said. “I loved how George would write encouraging letters all the time, to people he just felt like needed them.”

Dawn also grew up with music. Her father, Chico Oropeza, is a veteran musician in Austin’s lively music scene, and there were always professionals playing around the house.

“It was inspiring but also intimidating,” she said. “One day it dawned on me that it was what I wanted to do as well.”

After their chance meeting at the dance, Dawn and Hawkes were friends for a while and then began “musically dating,” Hawkes said. This consisted of writing songs together, sharing a band when they played dates together, touring together and finally combining their solo sets and their intricate harmonies into a single act.

“That magic from our harmonies was there from the beginning,” Dawn said.

They entered blind auditions for the Kerrville Music Festival early on and later for The Voice. Both were successful.

On Friday, they performed one of their new songs, Right On Time, a romantic turn about, yes, a man asking a girl to dance.

“This is my favorite song, because we wrote it in our living room,” Dawn said. And it was magic, as promised.

A guy in the audience named Aaron proposed to his girlfriend at the song’s conclusion, and the pair danced as Dawn & Hawkes performed another of their sweet love compositions, Ten Leap Years.

Mild spring evenings were made for dancing, especially for the likes of Dawn & Hawkes.

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