Psychedelic Brass Band Cross-Pollination from the Dirty Bourbon River Show
With their “gypsy brass circus rock,” the Dirty Bourbon River Show are one of those party bands who transcend any attempt to pigeonhole them: all they want to do is play good music. They’ve had such success making albums and giving them away at shows that they keep running out – so they record new ones. Their latest, Volume Three is actually their fifth, something you might expect from a band that puts the party vibe front and center. But they’re excellent musicians, which you have to be in order to mix New Orleans jazz, reggae, latin, gypsy and soul music and not make people sick. Lyrically, a lot of these songs don’t make much sense; musically, they’re an awful lot of fun.
The opening track is a let’s-get-this-show started kind of New Orleans second-line number, with a fat pulse from the tuba and kick drum: “Now that you’re here, grab yourself a beer, as the saxophone makes love to your ears,” rasps frontman Noah Adams. They follow that with Wolfman, a gruff cajun number with a Halloweeny gypsy undercurrent and then Already Gone, a slinky, nocturnal, minor-key cha-cha tune. True Blue Blues sets funky Crescent City piano on top of fat low end and a tasty baritone sax solo from Matt Thomas.
They go back to a latin groove for Say That You Love Me, which seems to be a drinking song of some sort, with gypsy clarinet, piano, a surprisingly lush string arrangement and bubbly tenor sax. I Don’t Know builds from a slow oldschool soul vibe and takes on more of a bite as the guitar gets louder and adds a tinge of distortion. The most psychedelic song here is Hold ‘Em High, which morphs from stoner hippie blues to a tricky thicket of horn countermelodies. They get even more surreal with C’est le Vie Sierra, which kicks off with a Thelonious Monk riff and then wavers between a biting gypsy vamp and a woozy, off-kilter dirge. That one segues into a suspiciously smoky reggae/hip-hop tune that delivers a funny dis. The album ends with a brief vaudevillian kazoo tune. To recap: New Orleans; cajun; various latin flavors; blues; gypsy music; soul; stoner music; a little jazz; reggae and hip-hop, all of it good. Is there anything this band CAN’T play? The Dirty Bourbon River Show are currently on southern tour; they’ll be back in their hometown of New Orleans at the end of the month.