Band: Mobile’s Turtleneck Christmas, featuring Dirty Bourbon River Show
Date: Saturday, Dec. 19, at 9 p.m.
Venue: O’Daly’s Irish Pub, 564 Dauphin St., www.odalysirishpub.com
Tickets: $10, available through O’Daly’s website and at door
When Dirty Bourbon River Show first visited the Azalea City, it opened for Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Callaghan’s. This New Orleans band was veritably unknown in Mobile, but by the end of its short set, Dirty Bourbon had become a local favorite. The band’s raucous “New Orleans Big Brass Circus Rock” rolled over the crowd and left them anticipating its next visit.
Its trademark sound featured a calliope of jazz sound, rock ‘n’ roll overtones and versatile instrumentation, including everything from sousaphone to a slide-whistle. Its music was accented by a charismatic live show that was both infectious and overwhelming.
While the band’s musical philosophies have changed very little, some other aspects have changed greatly. According to drummer Dane “Bootsy” Schindler, one of the biggest changes is experienced solely by the members themselves.
“We’ve changed on emotional levels and musical levels,” Schindler said. “We’ve gotten a lot tighter. We can almost hone in to each other’s senses. We’ve got the same wavelength on stage now. It’s gotten more filled up with instrumentation, and everybody is trying different things. When we first started, Jimmy [Williams] was on electric bass and sousaphone. Now, he’s on flute.”
Since its first local performance, Dirty Bourbon’s lineup has also changed. The band has added Adam Lesnau (trombone/backing vocals) and Sandra Love (backing vocals/percussion/wind toys). According to Schindler, these new members have extended the band’s aural dynamics. Love’s feminine vocals mix well with those of front man Noah Adams, and Lesnau’s horn skills bring more depth to an already intricate sound.
“The dynamic has been wonderful, honestly,” Schindler said. “The sound on stage is bigger and built up. The female vocals on stage have added a nice change of pace to things, and it’s been great.”
The band’s audience has also expanded greatly. In its early days, Dirty Bourbon focused on the Gulf Coast. When Lagniappe spoke with Schindler, the band was in the process of exchanging the fall weather of North Carolina for the warm sun of South Florida. Dirty Bourbon has spent the past few years bringing its new-school Crescent City sounds to the nation, which Schindler said has involved a lot of driving.
Since embarking upon this rigorous and expansive tour schedule, Schindler said, the band has become cultural ambassadors for New Orleans, spreading its “Laissez les bons temps rouler” attitude far and wide. He noted Dirty Bourbon’s music is best appreciated in a small-town environment, where locals have rarely experienced the sounds of NOLA in a live setting. The opportunity usually generates large crowds. Schindler notes Cazenovia, New York, as a perfect example. In the midst of frigid temperatures, snow and frozen roads, the band still managed to pack a small theater and leave the audience anticipating the band’s return.
“They want it,” Schindler explained. “People want that kind of music to come into town and shake things up. A lot of times, they’re getting the same thing over and over. When bands like us come through, it shakes things up. Everybody wants to come out and dance and have a good time. In small towns, we really do things up.”
Dirty Bourbon’s recent travels have been in support of its latest album, “Important Things Humans Should Know.” This is the band’s ninth studio release in six years. As far as what those “important things” are, Dirty Bourbon has included a list in the album’s liner notes.
As far as the album’s sound, Dirty Bourbon fans won’t be disappointed. This album showcases a band that has mastered its musical foundation, and many will consider it the band’s best album.
The seductive piano rag of the album’s opener, “Ezmerelda,” plunges the listener into the world of the Dirty Bourbon River Show. This is a vaudevillian location filled with smoky bars featuring slithering burlesque dancers and intoxicating libations. Dirty Bourbon’s musical versatility makes its presence known with “Wicked,” which mixes the charismatic herald of a tent revival with jazz pulled from the darkest depths of the French Quarter.
Dirty Bourbon has always loved an accordion, and the band even dedicates an album to this instrument. The accordion makes its presence known on the new album through the song “Straight to Hell.” Dual vocals and memorable lyrics highlight this klezmer masterpiece. The creation of this track was the result of musical evolution in action, and Schindler said he is very pleased with its rhythmic direction.
“It’s got this calypso feel to it on the drums that I really, really enjoy,” Schindler said. “A buddy of mine in New Orleans who’s a drummer showed me the groove. We were goofing around on the song during sound check, and it evolved from there. We just built on it.”
For those who have not seen Dirty Bourbon since its Azalea City debut, the show at O’Daly’s will be the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with the band’s music. Schindler said the Mobile audience will witness a “bigger, built-up” sound that has been molded over time. In addition, the crowd will have the chance to glimpse the band’s future. Over the course of its history, Dirty Bourbon has established a reputation for having an abundance of material.
Schindler cites front man Noah Adams as being the driving force behind this prolific songwriting. Even though the band is touring with a new album, Schindler revealed Adams has already written “six or seven songs” for its next release. In addition to the nine albums’ worth of material from which they pull, Schindler says that the O’Daly’s crowd will get to hear the unreleased material as well.
“We just like to stay busy and enjoy being in the studio, where we can be creative and do the work that we enjoy doing,” Schindler said. “Being an artist, you’re constantly testing yourself and pushing yourself. For us, we want to explore and find new things out with our music.”