Friday, October 26, 2012
More than a few under-used words come to mind when listening to the New Orleans-based band Dirty Bourbon River Show: exuberant, boisterous, reckless abandon, oompah-pah, oompah-pah. It's no wonder, though, considering the band's youthful vigor and the musical heritage of its place of origin.
For the last four and a half months, the five 20-something, multi-instrumentalists in the band have been on the road, playing gigs in half the states in the country, getting their chops down and having a great time doing it.
"We've been a full-time band for three years," says Noah Adams, the group's singer-songwriter and instigator. Talking by cell phone on the way to their next booking in Rehoboth Beach, Del., Adams declares the band's sentiment. "We love what we're doing," he says.
Adams, one of two vocalists in the group, is a self-taught musician who plays piano, trumpet, guitar and accordion. He met the band's percussionist, Dane "Bootsy" Schindler in the latter half of 2008, and they began playing music together. Steeped in the Big Easy's rich stew of jazz, blues, big band and street performers, it wasn't long before Adams and Schindler's first endeavor--Buck Johnson and the Hootenanny Kid-- outgrew their musical overalls.
"We couldn't stay a two-piece forever," Adams says.
Over the next year or so, they recruited vocalist and trombone player Charles "Big Charlie" Skinner as well as their bass and tuba player, Jimmy Williams. In 2011, with the addition of saxophonist and all-around reedman Matt Thomas, the band completed its current line-up.
Adams has a seemingly disjointed list of influences for the band: the late African percussionist Obo Addy; classical composer Frederic Chopin; the inimitable Tom Waits; bananas (the delicious, yellow fruit); '50s-era, all-girl quartet The Chordettes; and pop music all-stars The Jackson Five. Surprisingly, the list represents and underscores the band members' varied experiences and backgrounds.
"We're all very different people," Adams says. "Charlie comes from like a classical tenor background, singing and performance and musical theater. Jimmy, our bass player, plays electric bass and tuba. (He) actually was a classically trained, upright bass player as well. That was his beginning. Matt Thomas, our saxophone player, he's a jazz tenor and baritone. He played with Kirk Joseph and a few other big bands. 'Bootsy' is a self-taught musician like me. He started a little bit later in life. He's picked it up very diligently. He's got that New Orleans sound and that street-beat in his style."
Since the early 2012 release of its most recent album, "Dirty Bourbon River Show, Volume 3," the band has toured steadily since March. Without a doubt, these boys are out there earning their stripes.
"We all live together every day, and we travel," Adams says. "We're becoming maybe more similar in the way we're sharing and finding a common ground. (It's) an awesome trend because you get a really nice flavor."
"Volume 3" gives testament to their eclecticism and development as a band. The album plays like a free-ranging sampler. With cavalier flow, loops and whirls, the band swings from second-line brass to accordion tango, from silky bossa nova to plucky piano blues. The only thing missing when you listen is the whispery scratch of aging vinyl, a line of empty shot glasses and the smoke of smoldering cigars.
Dirty Bourbon River Show hits Bennie's Boom Boom Room (142 E. Front St., Hattiesburg, 601-544-7757) Oct. 27 at 10 p.m. The show is $5. For more info or to buy albums, visit dirtybourbonrivershow.com.