Published on March 25th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann0
The Dirty Bourbon River Show Chugs Ahead
Specializing in a particularly festive and boozy blend of Crescent City blues, tipsy swing, and vaudevillian rock, the ever-touring, New Orleans-based Dirty Bourbon River Show is a rascally standout on most rock clubs’ calendars.
Earlier this year, the quintet — Noah Adams (vocals, piano, guitar, accordion, trumpet), Charlie “Big Charlie” Skinner (vocals, trombone), Matt Thomas (vocals, saxophones, clarinet), Jimmy Williams (bass, sousaphone), and Dane “Bootsy” Schindler (drums) — released its eighth studio album, a festive collection titled Accordion Anthology.
The band has performed in town at the Tin Roof and the Pour House several times over the last few years. They’ll return to Charleston this week for a show at the Pour House on Wednesday, March 26.
Metronome Charleston recently caught up with Charles Skinner to discuss their new music, their current tour, and their penchant for traditional Kentucky bourbons.
Metronome Charleston: You and your bandmates have been touring heavily for years. Is it difficult to eke out a living doing this kind of thing these days?
Skinner: We’re all professional musicians, doing this full-time. I wonder what we’d be doing if we weren’t touring and playing together … where would we be now. It’s been really awesome going around playing new places up and down the East Coast and up North. I’ve seen more snow this year than I’ve ever seen in my life.
Metronome Charleston: Have you adjusted or changed the lineup in recent years with special guests?
Skinner: Not really. It’s been the same five guys for three years now. We had one slight change with a sax player years back, but it’s a solid lineup right now.
Metronome Charleston: Do you ever show up at a gig to find that the band’s name has been misspelled or to read a hilariously misleading description in a local ‘zine?
Skinner: Oh yeah, man. Often, we’ll find that people have misspelled the name. You’d think that people who work in bars would know how to spell “bourbon,” but it gets messed up all the time. The only one that ever bothers us is when we’re billed as the Dirty Bourbon River Band instead of the Dirty Bourbon River Show because we put on a damn good, fucking hell of a show. The words that you put out there to be attached to yourself are always gonna get screwed up. It’s okay the first time we play at a place, but they need to get it right the next time we come around.
Metronome Charleston: As a New Orleans-based group, do you ever get pegged with stale references to traditional New Orleans jazz, soul, blues, etc.?
Skinner: I’m sure it happens all the time, but we’re never really aware of it. We’re proud of all of the material we put out there as the Dirty Bourbon River Show. We’re one of those bands that works really hard on the performances and the promotion of the shows. I think we’re pretty professional about it all.
Metronome Charleston: It seems like y’all are averaging two studio albums a year. That’s a lot of work between road trips. Have you had time to step away from the band to evaluate what kind of band the Dirty Bourbon River Show has become?
Skinner: We’ve picked up some new management recently, and that’s been a huge positive thing for us. It involved us sitting down and truly discussing who we were and what we were doing. We realized that we’re all still very hungry for more and wanted to move forward. We have a good formula for doing this, and I think it would be cool to make a living at it for the rest of our lives.
In a way, we’re so lucky to have all found each other at a point in our lives where we have no wives, no children, and no jobs we couldn’t get rid of. We were ready to get the road. Once you get out there, you see how awesome it is.
Metronome Charleston: Doing an accordion-based album is an interesting musical detour. Does Accordion Anthology mark a new direction for the band in general?
Skinner: The stuff from before is wild and all over the place. This new stuff is still all over the place, but it’s all accordion-based songs. Some are songs we recorded from older songs, and some are brand-new originals. I don’t know how much longer this little instrument [their stage accordion] will be around. I love the beautiful, breathy quality an old accordion has — the wonderful, scratchy, shit-box tone. I want to make sure we pay tribute to it before we move on to greater stuff.
Metronome Charleston: You have a reputation as bourbon drinkers and whiskey enthusiasts. How loyal are y’all to the whiskey spirit?
Skinner: We don’t drink anything but the dark stuff — whiskey, scotch, and bourbon. We tend to stay away from the vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and the clear stuff. My go-to is Maker’s Mark. That’s what the band usually drinks, too. It’s the best bang for the buck. I find that Woodford Reserve is good, but a little bit sweeter and caramel-y, which is nice when you’re recording vocals in a studio. We like peaty scotches, too.
Metronome Charleston: Is sipping or glugging whiskey it a nightly routine?
Skinner: Oh, absolutely. We keep it steady, and we can be snobs. We all come from whiskey-drinking families. We won’t touch those shots of Fireball; that stuff is like candy. I think it’s in my blood to drink good whiskey.
Metronome Charleston: What’s the plan for the band after all of these winter and spring tours?
Skinner: We’re focusing on Accordion Anthology right now, and we’ll have a bunch of new material ready for this show in Charleston. There’ll be some very new stuff in the show. We have a new recording project that we’ll jump into later this year
The Dirty Bourbon River Show will perform at the Pour House at 9:30 p.m. on Wed. March 26. The venue has them listed as “New Orleans Gypsy Brass Circus Rock.” Admission is $8. Visit dirtybourbonrivershow.com and dbrs.bandcamp.com for more.
Photos by Stacy Whiting.
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