Doc Roc Presents
The Dirty River Boys
John Moreland, The Roosevelts
423 N Main St.
Tulsa, OK, 74103
This event is all ages
The Dirty River Boys
The Dirty River Boys are paving their own road as they travel it. They are a testament to the idea that "if you can dream it, you can do it," moving with determination ever closer to the light. Above all is their belief in their music. It motivates them and provides exultation for each member, as well as for the audiences who have become fans by the force field the band creates in live performance.
Steely intention aside, there is a magic to being in the right place with the right stuff at the right time. Home in El Paso, the Dirty River Boys yearned to make music the centerpiece of their lives. Then they played their very first Austin gig, a happy hour set at hipster haunt, Lustre Pearl. The music they presented was energetic and infectious, though stripped down acoustic. The joy was unmistakable. And a new path with exciting possibilities was being born. The band migrated to Austin shortly thereafter, where they thrive amidst the other musicians in town, and love the strong sense of community they found. "Being in Austin, with so many great bands, it makes you up your game."
Travis Stearns and Nino Cooper met in the music scene in El Paso. They started gigging every once in a while, while they waited patiently for the day they could dedicate themselves to music 24/7. The Dirty River Boys trio formed 3 years ago, when Marco Gutierrez quit his job and school to join the band. "We had to go against full bands in El Paso, us with three people with acoustic instruments. It shows if you are consistent and serious about your music, you can really make it. We put our hearts out there every night. People see that." They added an upright bass player about a year and a half ago. Colton James joined for a 90 minute set at the River Road Icehouse. It was a trial by fire and a foursome was forged.
The new album, Science Of Flight, was recorded at Yellow Dog Studio in South Austin, Texas. Marco, Nino, Travis and CJ put aside just five days for the process. They played everything on the album themselves, only tapping on the legendary Kim Deschamps to lay down pedal steel. Expect surprises; Wurlitzer, marching drum sounds, train whistles, a rattlesnake. The band was mindful of their ability to recreate the sounds on stage in the live environment. The Dirty River Boys are seemingly always on the road, having logged 200,000 miles in the van, though thankfully, the rattlesnake is not a traveling companion.
Science of Flight has been described by The Dirty River Boys as Western, Fat, and Rock and Roll. It touches on myriad emotions with gentle harmonies that shimmer with beauty, acoustic rave-ups, and hook driven tunes. "This time, we made a record. We build it, recording the parts ourselves. This is a band record. We are really excited about it."
Some days, being John Moreland has to hurt. As others bury experiences and stifle regrets, Moreland pokes old wounds until you’re sure they’ve got to be bleeding again. It’s painful. But in Moreland’s care, it’s also breathtakingly beautiful. With the release of his highly anticipated third solo album High on Tulsa Heat (out April 21st via Thirty Tigers), he offers another round of the lyrics-first, gorgeously plaintive songs that have earned him devoted listeners across the country.
Moreland started writing when he was 10 years old, the same year his family moved from Kentucky, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he still lives today. He turns 30 this year, but he’s been slinging songs for more than half his life. He started fronting local punk and hardcore bands in high school. After graduation, he had an epiphany. “I’d just overexposed myself to punk and hardcore to the point that it just didn’t do anything for me anymore,” he says. The remedy? He ditched his music for his dad’s: CCR, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steve Earle.
“I think what appealed to me about it was lyrics,” he says. “In hardcore, there might be great lyrics in a song but you have to read them off a piece of paper to know it. I was 19 in 2004, and Steve Earle had put out ‘The Revolution Starts Now,’ and I remember hearing the song ‘Rich Man’s War’ and totally feeling like somebody just punched me in the chest.”
Moreland’s been chasing the chest punch ever since, composing pointedly and prodigiously. “I’ve always written to make myself feel better, I think,” he says. “It’s my way of figuring stuff out -- figuring out where I stand. You can’t do that without emotion. You can’t do that insincerely.”
When Moreland released In the Throes in June of 2013, the album didn’t just charm listeners -- it stunned them. American Songwriter proclaimed that “[t]hose not familiar with the Oklahoma City singer-songwriter should remedy that pronto,” while No Depression declared the collection “isn’t so much songwriting as alchemy with words and music.” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow heard his songs and joined the chorus, tweeting: “If the American music business made any sense, guys like John Moreland would be household names.”
If In the Throes ignited Moreland’s 2013 summer, FX’s Sons of Anarchy poured gasoline all over the fire that fall. The hit series featured three Moreland-penned and -performed gems: “Heaven,” off of his Earthbound Blues, the second of two full-length albums he released in 2011; and “Gospel” and “Your Spell,” both from In the Throes.
As word continued to spread and Moreland played more and more shows, a pattern began to emerge: his songs hit listeners hard. While his precise, evocative lyrics often get the credit, his voice -- a scritchy-scratch baritone capable of soul-shouting but especially potent in its subdued default register -- ensures his lines linger.
“I got so used to playing in bars where you’re just kind of in a corner,” he says. “You’re just background music, and nobody gives a fuck about you. It was so soul sucking. I would try to sing in a way that would get people’s attention.”
For Moreland, that didn’t mean screaming or gimmicks. “If you just sing it like you mean it -- like so hard that people can’t ignore it...” He trails off for a second, then concludes: “That’s what I was trying to do.”
These days when Moreland performs, rooms ordinarily buzzing with drunken chatter and clanging glasses fall silent.
When he decided to head back to the studio to record the follow-up to In the Throes, Moreland admits he felt more pressure than in previous sessions. “I just tried to ignore it because I figured it’s probably not a good way to make a record,” he says. “But yeah. It was in the back of my mind.”
High expectations must agree with him. High on Tulsa Heat is a triumphant sequel, pulsing with the sharply drawn imagery and cutting vulnerability that his listeners have come to expect. Produced by Moreland, the 10-song collection features a strong cast of players including Jesse Aycock (Hard Working Americans, Secret Sisters), John Calvin Abney (Samantha Crain, The Damn Quails), Jared Tyler (Malcolm Holcombe), Chris Foster, and Kierston White.
Stripped-down arrangements rooted in gritty rock and roll punctuate and cushion Moreland’s compositions. Tracks including “Hang Me in the Tulsa County Stars,” “Heart’s Too Heavy,” and “Cleveland County Blues” set the tone, trafficking in relentless honesty and folk.
Buoyant lament “Sad Baptist Rain” tackles internal conflict. “I was just trying to grab this scene of being a 16-year-old church kid in the parking lot of the punk rock show trying to reconcile having some fun with my Southern Baptist guilt,” he says, with a hint of a laugh. If “Sad Baptist Rain” is about self-acceptance, “White Flag” warns of self-destruction. “It’s a song about wanting or needing somebody so bad that you’re willing to destroy yourself for it,” he explains.
“American Flags in Black and White,” grapples with nostalgia, and while Moreland initially seems to condemn it, he ends up acknowledging its comfort, framing the past as everyone’s guilty pleasure. He never really condemns or judges anyone -- except himself. “Anytime I do write a song that I feel like is more like pointing a finger at somebody, it never feels good and I always just end up throwing it away,” he says.
The album also includes the first recording of live show staple “Cherokee.” Based on a vivid dream, the song explores longing, shame, forgiveness, and love. “I want it to be open ended,” he says of “Cherokee” and his songs in general. “I don’t want to be told what happened or how to feel.”
“You Don’t Care for Me Enough to Cry” proves once again that Moreland does intoxicatingly sad as well or better than anyone, but the concluding title track rollicks victoriously, relishing the thought of a safe place -- an idea Moreland says serves as a loose theme for the album. “A home is something I’ve really wanted,” he says. “But that means you have to figure out what that really means and what it is. The record is about those questions.”
The Roosevelts are craftsmen, specializing in heartfelt songs with real guts. The band is breaking out of Austin, TX with their rhythmic Americana-pop.
Founders James Mason and Jason Kloess began writing songs together in Austin in 2008, having moved to the capital city from Houston and Birmingham, respectively. For years, the pair whipped up sweaty crowds in dance halls and fraternity houses with covers on the weekends to pay the bills, while building their original repertory on the side.
Inspired by the pop singer-songwriter explosion of their formative years, namely Ryan Adams and Matt Nathanson, and modern folk-rock, the duo set out to create something current and classic with The Roosevelts. Armed with an arsenal of songs, they enlisted producer Dwight Baker, who steered organic pop/rock records for Brandi Carlile, Alpha Rev, and Bob Schneider, to guide their sonic vision.
The result is the Cold Sheets EP, which will see its national release this Fall. The 6-song set tugs at the heartstrings while drummer JJ Johnson (John Mayer, Tedeschi Trucks) and bassist Dave Monsey (Fiona Apple, Edie Brickell) maintain a steady, driving pulse.
Fashion and music monthly, Tribeza, comments: Poised between the quiet tenderness of My Morning Jacket and the ballads of John Mayer, Mason and Kloess spin musical narratives of heartbreak and longing.
Adv $13, DoS $15, Door $17