by: Thomas D. Mooney
The Dirty River Boys were at their home away from home last Friday playing to a lively, crowded Blue Light this past Friday (Jan 30). By the end of the night, they’d add about two more hours on the live music odometer. As per usual, the Texas folk-rock quartet brought their A game by weaving a setlist that blazed through DRB standards as well as a healthy portion of their latest self-titled album released late last year.
We were there once again jotting down thoughts, capturing some moments, and enjoying some late night music conversations with DRBers Nino Cooper and Marco Gutierrez. Read and view below. For our last interview with Gutierrez from the fall, click here.
- There wasn’t an opener. There wasn’t presale tickets. Consequently, Blue Light doors opened at 8pm rather than their usual 9pm to accommodate (and probably to take advantage of another hour of liquor sales [thumbs up]) for the early, early birds. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the mixture for a restless crowd. They were, for the most part, on point throughout the evening.
- DRB opened things up with a string of early tunes. I’m talking Long Cold Fall and Train Station era. They went through “She,” “Six Riders,” “Draw,” “Carnival Lights,” “Union Painter,” and “Boomtown.” It’s something I’ve not seen in a while at least. What’s really interesting about the show was that despite being an engaged crowd, you can tell it’s a relatively new crowd. In years past, every single one of those songs would have been gigantic crowd sing-a-longs. There was a larger roar for new material from The Dirty River Boys–something that has to be instant validation for DRB. These fans aren’t just living in the past; they’re here for the ride.
- They transitioned from drummer Travis Stearns being primarily attached to his cajon with a side snare to splitting his time there and on a full drum kit a while back, but this is the first show in which the new setup was used at The Blue Light. It’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. And despite Stearns being behind a drum kit for stretches–something you’d think would maybe lessen his interactions with the crowd–it doesn’t. His energy and intensity is felt just as much no matter where he is.
- Stearns isn’t just an intense, energetic, and talented drummer; he’s an angry one. It’s on the verge of violent. When behind the drum kit, this fact has never been more obvious. As I tweeted during the Super Bowl, “Marshawn Lynch runs the ball like Travis Stearns of DRB plays drums. It’s a violent affair.”
- Something else they’ve been doing for a while but was a Blue Light first, was their “Old Crow Medicine Showesque Surrounding One Center Microphone” that they do for four or five songs. They used to do this kind of thing before–but without the one mic thing–something they’d typically call a Chinese Fire Drill. It’s during this that you really get to see the musicianship of the band really standout. That’s easily the most underrated facet of the DRB formula. With their raw, spirited live show–one that has a punk show atmosphere at times–the actual musicianship can be easily glossed over and forgotten.
- During that, they’d play their first of two Townes Van Zandt covers. As explained, “White Freightliner Blues” was a song they used to do when they were first starting out. Bassist Colton James specifically stands out during their interpretation due to his banjo picking.
- The other Van Zandt cover was something of a left field pick, “Two Hands,” but was one of the most engaging moments for the crowd. I say it’s a left field pick mainly because I’ve never seen or heard anyone cover the song, but I recall during a DRB soundcheck back in 2013 in which Gutierrez kept singing the chorus of “Two Hands” in between instruments and microphone checks (Yes, I realize remembering facts like this are strange, but hopefully remarkable as well.)
- Speaking of James, he was wearing a black t-shirt with “It’s not a fucking cello” on it–something referenced a few times during the night. One like this. The upright bass player always ends up reminding everyone that he very well could be the best vocalist in the band.
- Paraphrased Quote By a Friend About James: It’s crazy how much he looks like Hank Williams, but it’s even crazier how much he sounds like him at times. I bet he’d be a badass for a Hank Williams biopic. I mean, I don’t know if he can act, but even if he was a shitty actor, I’d still watch and buy the soundtrack.
- I’m not exaggerating, when DRB went into “Down by the River,” I got goosebumps. It was a combination of the following factors: 1) It’s a great song, 2) They played the hell out of it, 3) The crowd went basically to final rap battle on 8 Mile level of might. Easily the apex of the night.
- Never seen this ever happen, but to begin the “One more song” chant was basically started by a guy who jumped on stage as the band was jumping off and started the chant on a mic. It’s not like they weren’t going to come back and do a few songs, but it was interesting to see something that basically anyone could do.
- Weird Music Nerd Admission: During said encore, they played “Honky Tonk Women” by The Rolling Stones. During the song, Gutierrez told Cooper “Play that solo, Keith Richards.” My first thought was wondering if Richards actually played the solo on “Honky Tonk Women.” It was 1969 when they made the transition from guitarist Brian Jones to Mick Taylor–both of which who typically played lead guitar while Richards handled rhythm guitar primarily. After a quick mid-song Wiki search, Gutierrez was confirmed that Richards indeed play the solo on “Honky Tonk Women.”