STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Yes, outdoors in July at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing was probably the more ideal setting to see The Dirty Heads.
However, the southern California reggae/hip-hop/alternative outfit — whose signature songs include “Lay Me Down” and “My Sweet Summer (is Gone)” — is still working their fifth and latest album, “Dirty Heads,” and set to play in the suburbs at The Venue at Valley Forge Casino Resort.
“We always enjoy playing Philly,” said guitarist/vocalist and band co-founder Dustin “Duddy B.” Bushnell. “The fans are great. The fans always come out.”
And yeah, he sees the humor in playing 2014’s “My Sweet Summer” in late October. “We are sort of known as a summer band, but we tour the whole year round,” Bushnell said.
The “Dirty Heads”’ single “That’s All I Need” has a sunny, carefree feel, and they appeared on the “Today” show in August to play it. “It’s more just a nickname we had, our older brothers would call us when we were younger. ‘Get outta here, ya dirty heads’,” said Bushnell.
Asked what it was like growing up in Huntington Beach, Calif., he said: “I love it. The weather’s 99 percent of the time perfect. We still live there.”
Since first getting together in 1996, the band has worked with the likes of Rome Ramirez — who became the singer of Sublime after the death of Bradley Nowell — Slash and Matisyahu.
But Bushnell’s favorite collaboration was with keyboardist Billy Preston, who had a string of Top 5 hits in the ‘70s and was known for his session work with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Preston’s final session work was on The Dirty Heads’ gold-selling debut “Any Port in a Storm” a month before he passed away in 2006. “We needed some (Hammond organ) B3 on some tracks … and we said: ‘Who can we hit up? Let’s start straight at the top, and when Billy Preston says ‘no,’ we can see who else is available,” Bushnell said with a laugh.
The album was originally slated for release on Warner Bros. Records, but industry-wide upheaval at the time put The Dirty Heads on the chopping block with other artists being dropped from the label. Warner Bros. gave the OK for the band to take what they had recorded for “Any Port in a Storm,” eventually releasing it in 2008 on the Executive Music Group label. “It was actually one of the best things that could’ve happened to us,” Bushnell said of the drama-free parting-of-ways with the major label.
Bushnell’s jam of the moment is blues/soul singer Leon Bridges. “That album (“Coming Home”) is on repeat,” he said.