STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Drawing from the richly diverse musical history of the deep south (Dr. John, Tom Waits, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band), New Orleans based “The Dirty Bourbon River Show” has captivated audiences of all ages.
“We take pride in having a broad appeal,” says Matt Thomas from his home in New Orleans. “It’s one of those good and bad things. We tend to grab people from different demographics, but at the same time when people ask you to define yourself — what do you do? We’re not really just one thing.”
The brainchild of frontman Noah Adams and principal songwriter Dane “Bootsy” Schindler, The Dirty Bourbon River Show (featuring Adams (keys, guitar, accordion, trumpet, vocals), Schindler (drums, percussion), Jimmy Williams (Sousaphone, electric bass, flute), Matt “Slyfox” Thomas (tenor/baritone sax, clarinet, backup vocals) and Sandra Love (vocals)) offers a unique blend of folk, rock, blues, Latin, gypsy, circus and traditional New Orleans jazz.
“We’re always digging into different styles of music,” says Thomas. “We all come from different musical backgrounds. It’s kind of a mish mash of what we’re all into, especially with New Orleans being the melting pot of music that it is. We kind of, in some way, pay tribute to the people and the bands that we really admire and emulate the sounds that we like.”
“We try to stay true to our New Orleans roots and to be thankful for the people around us that inspire us,” adds Thomas. “It’s a really great place to be. New Orleans is a super unique place. You draw from anything as old as Louis Armstrong, Preservation Hall Band, brass band stuff, soul and R&B. It helps that you are exposed to so much music from different genres. It’s a really creatively inspiring place to live.”
Since releasing their debut album, “Volume 1,” in 2010, The Dirty Bourbon Show has eight additional albums to their credit. While on tour in support of their latest record, “Important Things Humans Should Know,” (2015), the band members are collectively formulating a new album to be released in 2016.
“Right now, we’re working on a bunch of different songs in different genres and trying to put together our next album, which we’re pretty stoked about,” says Thomas. “We want to take things to the next level and get a stronger national presence and to also try to be a little more present in New Orleans as well.”
“While we take pride in our recordings, we try to do an all encompassing live performance,” adds Thomas. “We call ourselves the Dirty Bourbon Show as opposed to a band because the live show is really what we thrive on. You put yourself on the road and hit it hard. You give people a reason to want to pay to see you. We try and engage the audience. We dress a certain way. We’ve done shows with musicians and burlesque and belly dancers. It’s about an experience. In order to create a fan base, you have to make them want to remember you. You engage them through as many senses as you can. It’s not a good show unless you are sweating through your shirt.”
Joining the group in 2011, Thomas recalls what he considers to be a pinnacle moment for the Dirty Bourbon River Show.
“We got invited to play the TV Radio Correspondence Dinner in Washington, D.C. in 2013,” recalls Thomas. “A lot of the national news companies were represented there, and it was the first time we got on something really big. We rented nice suits and got everything set-up really nice. We realized that people were starting to value what we were doing.”
“It was a looser thing back then,” adds Thomas. “We were still finding our sound and setting ourselves apart. We always knew we wanted there to be a visual aspect to the show. As the songs started to evolve and people were trying to classify what we were doing, it kind of became what it is now. It’s still always changing.”
Eager for greater national exposure and to reach more fans, especially on college campuses, the quintet continues to patiently work toward a common goal.
“Where we are right now has been kind of a big evolution,” says Thomas. “It really has become more of a commitment dedicated to the idea of what we’re doing. Every year there’s progress. We look back and realize we’re making more money and playing nicer shows. We’re sleeping more often in a hotel room instead of on somebody’s floor. We’re eating better food instead of having to eat off the dollar menu at Taco Bell. We’ve gotten to the point where we continue to make steps forward and are excited about the next year. There’s still a long way to go, but we’re pretty happy with where we are now and we’re definitely excited about 2016.”