Words and pictures by Brad Darby
Video Courtesy BeezNuts
Only one band can be described as Front Porch, Whiskey Swillin, Foot Stomping, Gypsy, Punk, Country, Grumble, Boogie…..and that band is none other than Dirtfoot. The Shreveport, LA group came through town and played with St. Louis’ own Clusterpluck at 2720 Cherokee, an up and coming music spot that is also an art gallery, located in the art and shopping district of the Cherokee neighborhood.
The first band of the night was a new bluegrass outfit from St. Louis known as ClusterPluck. The three piece played for about an hour and I enjoyed the little I was able to see, but was just getting there and getting settled in. Their Facebook page describes them as “Banjo driven, Bass anchored and Mandolin searing, ClusterPluck’s original songs would fall somewhere in the Newgrass genre.” I would definitely like to see these guys again, more info can be found at www.facebook.com/clusterpluck
Dirtfoot consists of six members, and at first glance may look like your typical bluegrass or rockabilliy band with a banjo, upright bass and acoustic guitar up front, but a unique aspect of Dirtfoot is that they bring the crowd into the mix by handing out bean cans to the audience and by asking them for audience participation in a majority of their songs. Oh yeah, and they dont fit the mold of bluegrass or country music, at all….the band features a sax player, drummer and percussionist with everything from bells to pots and pans to washboard. Dirtfoot is inspired by music from all across the board and it shows. They have opened for Primus, Reverend Horton Heat among many others and are a staple at many annual music festivals around the midwest. The best description I have heard about Dirtfoot came from the mouth of drummer Lane Bayliss, “If there were such a thing as heavy metal during the 30s we would have been it.”
“Y’all ready to get rowdy tonight!” were the first words vocalist/guitarist Matt Hazelton uttered at the beginning of “Gonna Get Ya”, and it was clear we were in for a party like only Dirtfoot can provide!
What followed was nearly two hours of a bean can shaking, balls to the walls, double fisting whiskey, cant stop your feet because you are being taken in by the groove throwdown! Just a few songs in newest member of the movement, Nathan Woods, showed off his electric bass skills on a newer song called “Money and Pride.” Straying from the upright bass and going electric is a newer aspect of Dirtfoot, but it adds a whole new element to the group.
Scottasaurus Flex the Sax Offender (AKA Scott Gerardy) started “Devoted Mama” off with an eerie sax intro, and then after a few minutes percussionist Daniel Breihaupt and drummer Lane Bayliss had a chance to showcase a bit of their ability to feed off each other in a drum vs percussion battle before the rest of the band came back in to melt your face for the the end of the song. After a newer song, “Let Yourself Ride”, banjo picker J. Bratlie told us about a recent stint Dirtfoot had done at Wade Correctional Institute in Northwestern Louisiana. He was referencing that they had the opportunity to record a live album at the prison in front of about 300 prisoners that they plan to release in April. After this there was a little drum/percussion jam yet again between Bayliss and Breihaupt and then they broke into a sped up cover of Johnny Cashs, “Folsom Prison Blues” that featured a washboard, and then ended the medley with their song, “Heroin.”
The night ended with some crowd favorites, including “Little Bit of Rum”, a personal favorite of mine, featuring Nathan Woods laying down some haunting bass of the upright variety, Scottasaurus Flex playing a mean soprano sax and Hazeltons lyrics about drinking to forget about someone. Then it was the always hyper-sax heavy “The Watusi” followed by “Rhinestone Ring” and the final two songs of the night, “My Girl” and “Falling In Love.” When the show was over you could look at the crowd and see many people gathering their thoughts and picking their jaw up off the floor. From the empty cans of PBR and abandoned glasses containing final sips of whiskey mixing with melting ice everywhere it was clear, the movement that is Dirtfoot had hit 2720.
Check them out and make plans now for the next time these boys come to your town….bean cans will be provided, but quantities are limited. You can catch Dirtfoot at the 2011 Wakarusa Music Festival, Summercamp Festival or other venues near you. You can get tour dates more information on Dirtfoot at their official website where you can also stream tracks from both albums.
1. Gonna Get Ya
2. Rest My Head
3. Cast My Plans
4. Back Of A Stranger
5. Time To Be Your Friend Now
6. Money & Pride
7. Devoted Mama
8. Break My Bones
9. Let Yourself Ride
10. Folsom Prison Blues -> Heroin
11. Little Bit Of Rum
12. The Watusi
13. Right To Breathe
14. Rhinestone Ring
15. Bathroom Sink
16. My Girl
17. Fallin’ In Love