Dirtfoot: Coming to CoMo

Off Track Events is bringing the gypsy punk country grumble boogie band Dirtfoot to town for the Pedaler’s Jamboree on May 26th and 27th.  The word on the street and the trail is that this is the one band not to miss.  They expect audience interaction, even handing out homemade bean cans to round out the band members’ guitar, banjo, bass, saxophone, drums and miscellaneous percussion instruments.

Dirtfoot is winning awards left and right.  They will be playing two shows at the Jamboree, and I plan to get there early to get my bean can.

Dirtfoot’s J Bratlie spoke with me from Shreveport, Lousiana:

Gypsy punk country grumble boogie? It sounds like all the odd people in my high school class got together and formed a cult.

Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie was coined by a local writer who did one of our first reviews. He managed to sum up our sound so well that it stuck, and we’ve been running with it ever since. It’s not an intentional sound; we don’t try to write for a certain genre.  It just comes out purely primal, from the gut. Everyone says we sound familiar, but not like any other band or any style. We’ve been called Alt Country, Swamp Rock…hell, Les Claypool said we sound like a Southern version of Gogol Bordello, but not so Eastern European.

The story goes that God brought the first two band members together with one of His acts on one of His special days. Do you feel like you would be letting Him down if you didn’t continue to make music?

We do feel that a tornado, which brought myself and Matt together, is a fitting backdrop for the beginnings of the band. We formed on the same front porch of the reconstructed house, with numerous musicians sitting in and playing. Cool thing was, we weren’t trying to form a band, we just liked jamming, and if we really liked what somebody brought, they became permanent.

Was the house rebuilt while the band was forming?

The house was rebuilt by Matt and his family. They came out from west TX, and in a few weekends the house was better than ever. This happened in April 2000. Matt and I met right after the storm and basically started jamming immediately. The banjo I ended up playing was actually sitting in the corner of his house, and I saw it for the first time while examining the damage.

What’s with the bean cans?

The bean cans were a happy accident. We had a junk percussion player before we had a drummer, and homemade shakers were part of the rig. It seems like every show we were passing out the percussion to the folks, and it just kinda stuck. Now it really does help the crowd become the 7th member of the band.

Speaking of unusual instruments, how does one play a rubber chicken?

Ah, the rubber chicken… It is but one of our many accents that our percussionist, Daniel Breithaupt, has at his disposal. It was heavily featured in our song “Break My Bones” until, unfortunately, the chicken lost its voice a year or so ago. We’ve also had squealing pigs, horns, sirens and other fun things to make the necessary noises.

Is Dirtfoot acoustic or plugged in?

We are mostly acoustic. Our bassist plays his upright through an amp and does alternate with an electric bass. Matt and I both run our instruments through pedals to “play” with the sounds. Matt has also added an electric guitar recently, so you never know how it will morph and change.


You shot your video for “Cast My Plans” at the Wade Correctional Facility in Homer, LA, and it is fantastic! How did that project come about?

Well, that actually started with a music video.  We were approached by Jonathan Rothell, a film editor from California who wanted to make a music video of our song “Cast My Plans.”  He had the whole basic concept of the video: we are all thugs and you see us committing our crimes and getting caught. At the end of the video, the band forms in prison and we play in front of the inmates.

It seemed easier to actually go to a prison for the filming rather than attempting to build sets, costumes, etc, so we contacted the local prisons for help. Wade Correctional was very interested. We quickly decided that if we are going to go to a real prison and shoot ourselves in front of real inmates, then we should actually play a show. And if we’re going to play a show and we have cameras available, we should record that.

Then we reached out to our friend William Sadler, who we met playing a wrap party for the movie The Mist, to play our warden. At this point the buzz began to build about the project, and we had a whole crew of people who actually work for the movie industry in Shreveport volunteering for our video.

We then had a documentary crew put together to film the whole process, making the video, recording the live performance and put it all together in a sweet documentary “Making of the Cast My Plans Video.”  Of course the project had ballooned out of our small budget quickly. We decided to use a 35mm film camera to shoot the video to give it that “look,” which of course meant the extra expense of film processing. We also had to get Mr Sadler from New York to Louisiana for the shooting. We decided we had to come up with a way to fund this project, so we set up a Kickstarter campaign.

We set out to raise $10,000 in 30 days and spread the word mainly online: facebook, website, etc.  Well, we were very surprised by the quick response and actually hit our goal in 20 days.  So, after a little prodding from some of our die hards, we decided to up our goal. If we hit $15,000, we would print a special run of vinyl as well. On day 30, we had raised $16,200 and were blown away by the response.  So, needless to say, we spent all the money on making the best album, DVD and vinyl that we could. We have at least 175 people to thank for that one!


I’ve read that your audiences should expect an “aerobic workout of their bodies and ears” at every show. You sound like the perfect band for bicyclists. Have you ever played a bicycling event?

The Pedaler’s Jamboree is our first bicycling event. We’ve played many shows with folks riding around on bikes, but never for a bike-specific event. We are really looking forward to the shows, and we have good friends in Columbia too. It’ll be like a mini vacation.

If Dirtfoot were a meal, what dish would each member be?

Hmm…not sure what meal we’d be.  Being from Louisiana, a lot of folks compare us to a gumbo: lots of different flavors blended together to make something new.

I guess individual members:
Daniel – Spice. He definitely gives the music some zing.
Scotty – The sauce.
Nathan – Mystery spice. He gives that flavor that can’t be identified but rides underneath everything else.
Lane – Vegetables, good and hearty.
J – Some type of meat, like crawfish and sausage.
Matt – Meat. With a little gristle.

**Photographs curtesy of Dirtfoot.

CoMo Music: A Conversation with The Hipnecks

The Hipnecks, a Columbia-based band that has been around in one form or another since 2004, is playing a Pedaler’s Jamboree kick-off concert tonight at the Blue Note. I cornered one Hipneck, Pat Kay (banjo, harmonica, guitar, vocals), for a conversation this week. 

Photo by Kevin Dingman, 2011.

 You call your sound jambalya?

A reporter once called it “jambalaya” because of all the influences we gave her when describing our music. There are lots of ingredients, some seemingly dislike, that all seem to come together just how we want it. I think we may have overwhelmed her when listing the ‘ingredients’ of our sound.

‘Sound.’ Ours has changed quite a bit since then…but not too far. Lately I only feel a minor degree of difficulty explaining that we’re not what most folks would call a rock band because we tote around mandolins, banjos, fiddles, harmonicas, etc. However, we’re not a bluegrass band either. We have drums, driving electric guitar, keys…and we’re pretty loud. You can call it an attempt to avoid being labeled a country band, if you like…but to be honest we feel that we’re all of those, and yet none of those at the same time. I overheard someone call it “country-fried rock & roll” one time…and I think that serves us pretty well.

I like “country-fried rock & roll”. I think that you should go with that. I like “trash can Americana” too, but the country-fried term describes it better.  Since we are using cooking terms to describe music…imagine that The Hipnecks is a meal…what would each member be?

Ooh –thats’ a good one… I’ll have to ‘digest’ that for a while to answer that in a way that’s insightful to everyone’s contributions, musically.

I would be a rib eye steak (with too much salt).
Harrison would be BBQ ribs.

Danny would be a sirloin steak.
Bryan would be a BBQ pork steak.

Molly would be apples and brie.
We would guest musician in a loaded baked potato for a show.

It doesn’t work… but it works.

That’s a lot of meat! I like Molly best, for sure.  The Hipnecks is a great name. Did you really let an audience choose it?

True story. “Hipneck” was a term former Hipnecks vocalist/guitarist Scott Anderson and I coined one night to agree to disagree on the description of a friend of ours.  Scott said, “He’s a total hippie.” I said, “No way dude, he’s a redneck through and through.” We argued about as long as it took us to reach the end of the driveway at the old band house, and I finally said, “Fine, he’s a… hipneck.” Oddly, we both said “hipneck” in unison. The name kinda stuck in my head after that.

We were in the process of changing the name before we released our first album, Just Another Fine Day, because our name at the time was ‘Farmhouse’ (a tip of the hat to the farm my family owns outside of California, Missouri, where we currently host our annual shindig called ‘Barnout’). Unbeknownst to me at the time of choosing that name, it is also the name of a popular Phish song and a college fraternity as well. To minimize confusion, we decided it was best to land firmly on a new name, because after the album released we were going to be stuck with it forever. We narrowed it down to “The Hipnecks,” “Farmacy,” and another I can’t recall at the moment.

We were unable to agree on which. I decided it was best to leave it up to our current fans at the final show preceding the album release. It was at The Tap Room, in Fulton, Missouri, where we played our first show and maintained a regular weekly residency for years. Armed with a human applause-o-meter (our friend Peter), we let the crowd vote by applause before we started our final set of the night, thus starting the show under one name and ending under another.

Are there any impending decisions that this Friday’s audience can help you with? Anyone need to name a baby?

Haha–no.  Not yet anyway.

The rest of The Hipnecks are:  Zach Harrison (guitar, vocals), Danny Carroll (drums, sinks, trashcans & other household items, vocals), Bryan Kay (bass, vocals), and Molly Healey (fiddle, cello, vocals). 

You can catch them tonight at the Blue Note and/or the last weekend of May at the Pedaler’s Jamboree.

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part Two)

About a week ago I posted part one of a live music preview for what’s going on in Columbia in May. However, due to time issues on my end, I wasn’t able to get everything in that you readers might be curious about. While note a complete picture I felt it necessary to try and get a general idea. So, with that in mind, here are a few more shows coming up this month in Columbia.

The Bon Scott 5, The Many Colored Death @ Mojo’s (Saturday May 12th)

Okay, maybe you’re not into indie or folk but just want some metal or some classic rock to kick out the jams to. Maybe you’re in a classic rock frame of mind for a night. Either way, if you feel like that check out this appearance from local AC/DC tribute The Bon Scott 5. You know the music (especially if you grew up in Missouri), you know the songs. Curious about THe Many Colored Death. Have a feeling if you want some hard rock and metal, this could be an option.

We Live in Public, Truett and the Traitors, Mondo @ The Bridge (Friday May 18th)

This is recommended (in my opinion, anyway) mainly for Mondo, whose melodic punk/alt rock draws to mind such bands as The Replacements, the Ramones, et al. If you’re into a more jam band vibe, you will want to check out We LIve in Public.

New Tongues, Jack Buck, Mad Anthony @ Eastside Tavern (Saturday May 19th)

So it’s the 19th and you’re want something heavy and maybe a little dissonant. In that case head on over to Eastside for New Tongues, who will unleash another sonic attack along with St. Louis’ own Jack Buck Ithe band, not the late sportscaster – in case anyone was confused) and Mad Anthony from Cincinnati.

Mojo’s Happy Hour with Polly Finn @ Mojo’s (Happy Hour Fee Show on Friday May 25th)

As we all know Memorial Day weekend is pretty much considered the start of summer. So, if you wanna kick off the summer with some music check out this free show from local band Polly Finn. Still haven’t heard them yet but with members of the Goldbugs and the Harrows, this should be interesting

That pretty much covers the bases. While I don’t have everything going on, I hope to give you readers a good jumping off point for seeing some live music this month.

CoMusic Review: Photos from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin on The Missouri Theatre Center for The Arts patio

That may be a record setting post title. Maybe I should have gone with SSLYBY @ The MO Theatre. After a late night of thesis writing in the coffee shop Tuesday, I just happened to see the show advertised on the theater marquee as I walked past. I didn’t even know the theater had a patio, so the fact they were holding a show on it definitely intrigued me. It didn’t hurt that I think SSLYBY is one of the most underrated bands performing today (ignore the fact that their debut Broom was the love child of just about every music blog except Pitchfork).

SSLYBY played well, plus had a strong showing of super fans standing in front, singing along with every song. Unfortunately, the mix was way off and even with the extra help the vocals were muddy and sometimes absent. John Robert Cardwell and Phillip Dickey often trade vocals or interweave them throughout a song. Since the mic at the drum set was turned down so low, it seemed like one singer was giving the silent treatment to the other. Plus, the patio’s geometry really lends itself better to a wine and cheese function with a jazz band than a crowded rock show. But for what it’s worth, SSLYBY played well, the crowd was into it, and it’s hard to beat a night of music with your friends under the warm Missouri sky.

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part One)

COMUSIC PREVIEW – May Live Music Preview (Part One)

  AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to time constraints (i.e.: me being way busier than I’d like) this will be a two part post.  My apologies in advance for this.

May is always a strange month for Columbia. Spring is in full effect with fairly warm days and relatively cool nights; providing a sign that summer is just around the corner. However, with three colleges in town, May is also the end of Spring Semester and the time when the student population dwindles by varying degrees due to finals week and other plans making the town a bit smaller in t e process.

But what if you’re not a student and just live in Como? What if you’re a student who’s staying over the summer either for summer school or due to a job? If you’re one of these people (or if you’re a student looking for something to check out before finals and/or your lease ends and you have to head on out of town), here are a few shows that you might be interested in this May.

9th Street Summerfest with Primus on 9th St – outside the Blue Note. (Thursday May 3rd)

While the summerfest shows have become a sign of nice weather and summer in Columbia, this kickoff is unexpected. Fans of peculiar song topics and massive funk meets jam band bass will likely fill 9th St for this show. I know most of you know about this show but I realized I had to put it here just to kick things off (and to avoid any comments if I forgot about it).

Mutilation Rites, Gran Mal, Creaturezoid, Gay Uncle @ Cafe Berlin (Thursday May 3rd)

So what’s going down on the 3rd if you’re not into Primus, can’t afford to see them, or just need a fix of something heavier.  This show should fill that void.  Mutilation Rites  will lay down some metal along with the HC of Gran Mal, local metallers Creaturezoid, and the grind/powerviolence of Gay Uncle.  This will be hard and intense at times but something the metal fans amongst you may be curious about.

No Coast Final Countdown Day One @ The Berlin Theater (Friday May 4th)

If you’re into rap/hip hop than this rap battle fest should be of interest.  With rappers from places ranging from St. Louis to Atlanta involved this will be something far removed from the cliche and a must see for the hip hop fan seeking out something different.

Portland Cello Project, Emily Wells @ Mojo’s (Wednesday May 9th)

I know what you’re thinking: cello music? Really? Hear me out. Portland Cello Project is taking the instrument into unexpected territory, playing music you wouldn’t normally hear on the instrument. A revolving crew of performers, over the years they’ve played with Peter Yarrow, Thao, and The Dandy Warhols and have a repertoire that ranges from Beethoven to Pantera and Kanye West (yes, you read that right). While I have little clue what they’ll do @ Mojo’s, I can safely say it will be interesting.

Hooten Hallers @ The Blue Note (Saturday May 12th)

This local duo has gotten a lot of media hype lately (even placing number two on Paste’s Ten Bands From Missouri You Should Know) and there’s a reason – they’re that good. Their raw stripped to the core bluesy rock has earned a fairly solid local following, The past year has found them busy touring so this homecoming of sorts is a chance to see them in the habitat they’re best suited for: the concert stage.

Cabin Sessions, Jowlz @ Mojo’s (Friday May 19th)

The local songwriters collective makes a rare live appearance @ Mojo’s the weekend before Memorial Day weekend.  With a sound that can go from folk and roots music to indie pop, this octet manages to put on an interesting show.  This may be our last chance to see Cabin Sessions for a while with band member busy with other projects so if you’re a fan of theirs (or just curious) check this show out if you’re able to do so.

That’s it for now.  Keep on the lookout for part two of this post shortly.  Hope you found something on this list you might want to check out.

Eighties New Wave Dance Party

A chance to dance to the music that I listened to as a teen? Now that I’m old and I don’t care who sees me dancing? At my favorite venue in town? You bet I’ll be there. 

80s New Wave Dance Party, July 2011.

What: The Eighties New Wave Dance Party featuring the dynamic duo of DJs Julie Swanson and Brent Gardner, who were Blue Note Dance Party DJs in the 1980s.

Where: The Blue Note, 17 N. 9th St.
When: April 21st, with doors opening at 8:30 pm.
How: Admission is $5.
Why: The Eighties New Wave Dance Party is a great opportunity for people of the 80s generation to relive the fun times of their youth and a wonderful way for people of all ages to come together to celebrate some of the best dance music ever made. It’s going to be a blast!

==Info provided by Craig Dalrymple, chief instigator of the event and member of the Crusty Old Columbia Punks Facebook group, which is composed of surviving members of the local indie rock music scene of the 1980s.

CoMusic Review: Photos from Mission of Burma at Mojo’s

Mission of Burma brought their post-punk act to Columbia last night with a stop at Mojo’s. The Riverfront Times music blog indicates that prior to this tour, Mission of Burma’s sole Missouri performance was at Mizzou’s Springfest in 2004. That’s a rather unflattering statistic for our state since the band has trekked across the states on a number of tours over the three and a half decades of its existence (granted, the band was on hiatus for 20 years). I expected a large crowd to come out for such a widely respected group, but there was actually plenty of breathing room inside Mojo’s. Perhaps that should be expected when a late 70s-era punk band plays a college town. After all, Mizzou freshman were only 9 years old when Mission of Burma reached their second peak in popularity after their reformation in 2002.


CoMusic Review: Photos from Band of Skulls at Adult Swim Carnival Tour

The Adult Swim Carnival Tour came to Columbia last night. The event was just about what you would expect from Cartoon Network’s night late programming block: weird and wonderful. Add in popular UK group Band of Skulls and make it all free, and you’ve got a really fun night. Shakespeare’s parking lot made the transition to carnival midway throughout Thursday. By mid-afternoon a giant inflatable Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force had been erected atop Shakespeare’s. The carnival featured classic games such as Balloonacorn, Flunko, University of China, IL wheel, and Smack Up My Ulna. Despite all the distractions, the crowd was attentive throughout Band of Skulls’ set. The band rewarded the crowd with a set that extended 20 minutes past their scheduled time.


CoMusic Review: Photos from White Rabbits at The Blue Note

White Rabbits formed in Columbia in 2004, but soon moved to Brooklyn. They quickly rose to national prominence with their debut album Fort Nightly, appearing on Letterman soon after the album was released. The group returned to Columbia last night, a few years and two more albums under their belt. Gull opened for White Rabbits. Gull is an interesting project with a major contradiction. It is a one-man band, yet has the sound and aura of a tribe. The consistently great Believer’s also opened the show.



COMUSIC REVIEW: Jack Grelle – self titled CD

Jack Grelle lives in one of the more interesting dualities in the world of Columbia, MO’s music scene. On one front is his footing in punk and hardcore, having been both the drummer for Bookmobile and the male vocalist in Task Force. However, what is slightly less known, is his foray into folk and country music that has occurred in tandem with his work in both bands, first under the pseudonym Javelin Track but eventually under his own name. After several years of intimate shows in houses and a couple of tours, this side of his work has finally been caught on disc.

On Jack Grelle’s self titled solo debut, he takes a stripped down approach in these tales of drifting and traveling delivered with a feel that’s part old timey yet also moody and relevant. Built around his acoustic guitar work and vocals, there’s a lonesome feeling on some of these tracks (“Jack’s Blouse,” “Troubled Mind”), while others use a minimal approach with some occasional banjo, fiddle, and some backup vocals to create a sound that both longs for connection while carrying on within its own space. Whether it’s a traveling song of sorts (“Don’t Follow a Line”) or a catchy live favorite that fans will recognize instantly (“Talkin’ Pocatello Blues”) Grelle and company manages to create audio tales of life, struggle, longing, and travel in its ups and downs that, while staying traditional in nature, seems way more current than the slick twanged up pop too many try and pass off as country music these days.

Jack Grelle isn’t a CD that will be everyone’s cup of tea. The stripped down sound and diverse subject matter will likely alienate those who just want some love songs or a simple aural wallpaper. However, for listeners willing to take the risk it does provide a listen that’s worth going to the store (or checking out his bandcamp page) to hear.