Reviews > Shows
The Dirty Guv’nahs at Webster Hall
The Dirty Guv’nahs
The Studio at Webster Hall
New York, NY
I discovered The Dirty Guv’nahs via their Pink Chair Sessions on YouTube. I really liked their organic feel and sound. They reminded me of The Band (Hmmm…Pink Chair/Big Pink) or early 70s Stones or Faces. Or maybe it was early Black Crowes (you know the great stuff they did on the first three albums before their studio work became spotty at best). And as a fairly young Southern band out of Knoxville, why not? I added the P.C. Sessions to iTunes and kept the band on my radar, waiting for a New York City date.
If you knew nothing about The Dirty Guv’nhas (from here on referred to as the DGs), you might think they are just really nice college kids from somewhere down South. One thing for sure about this band: they do not come across like a bunch of Dirty White Boys. These six young men do not appear to want to emulate any notorious bands from Boston or evoke 1973 like the Robinson brothers. They play music that sounds like Stillwater, but they look like a band you might see at a school dance. But here’s the thing, WHO CARES?! The DGs rock! These are solid musicians with a deep respect for Classic Rock as well as more current artists. On their website each member lists their favorite players and the best live show they ever saw. And when you hear names such as Eric Krasno, Ryan Adams, John Mayer & My Morning Jacket mixed in with The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Allmans & Elton John, you get a better understanding of how they want to try & make music. The DGs reference the past while looking forward to the future.
The DGs played a well-paced 14 song/90 minute set. They started rocking hard, smoothed it out with a few more soulful tunes and ended on a high note with a fantastic cover. Cozmo Holloway & Michael Jenkins play electric guitars in much the same manner as Ronnie & Keef. For most of the songs Holloway winds around Jenkins riffs. But every once in a while, Michael will unleash a tasty lead of his own. And when Trimble picks up his acoustic guitar, the three of them create a rich tapestry of sound, particularly with Chris Doody’s keyboards filling in the empty spaces. And all of this is held together by a tight rhythm section of the Hoskins brothers (older brother Justin plays bass).
About a third of the songs were from a new album they hope to have out by mid-Summer. They utilize a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to record their albums. I find this to be ingenious in an age when major labels just don’t sign as many bands as they used to. And if a label does sign someone, it’s only big Pop acts that can possibly make money without the grind of the Road. And the Road is really the only place for a band like the DGs to be. These guys need to seen on a stage so they can gain fans. And what’s better than having your real fans contribute a few bucks, get their names listed in the album credits, get backstage passes or a signed poster? Musicians today that don’t want to connect with their fans are just missing the whole point. The DGs are grassroots all the way.
A few of the songs really stuck out. “Wide Awake” reminded me of early Train (I consider this a good trait), something that might have been on their first two albums. “New Salvation” from the second DGs’ album “Youth Is In Our Blood” sounds like the Black Crowes’ “Remedy” part 2. But live, it became something altogether different. It started with an extended instrumental jam that sounded like they were breaking into the Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills “Super Sessions” version of “Season Of The Witch.” And even the song itself took on a slightly different vibe live that didn’t make me think of Chris Robinson spinning and twitching on stage while telling me about what he wants and what he’s got to find. “Baby We Were Young” was a great rocker. And “Blue Rose Stroll” featured a tasty slide intro by Cozmo Holloway.
The band ended with an unplanned take on the “Exile On Main Street” classic “Loving Cup” featuring a soulful piano intro by Chris Doody for their encore. Trimble deserves credit for battling all night with either the stage monitors or the microphone. His strong voice carried him through spots where other inexperienced singers may have faltered. When the set was over, the band wandered into the crowd to talk to transplanted friends from Knoxville, meet local fans and sell merchandise. There is nothing intimidating about this band. And let me stress that there is nothing wrong with that. The Dirty Guv’nahs seem like guys you might know from home, maybe friends from college (University of Tennessee Volunteers perhaps?). And if you were lucky enough to have them play your party, you can bet everyone would leave satisfied. A little sweaty, but never dirty.
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