Dirty Bourbon River Show comes to Old Town Pub on Saturday
September 8, 2011
Steamboat Springs — It's always the hardest question for New Orleans musician Charlie Skinner, and he laughed a little when asked how he describes the music of his band, Dirty Bourbon River Show.
Of course, there's the short answer — "gypsy folk circus rock" — but the long answer lies in how the raucous quintet create and perform its music.
"First of all, being from New Orleans, we have to harken back to the older days, to the Cab Calloways and the Screamin' Jay Hawkins," he said. "Then, you had to play multiple instruments, and you had to be really good at them to get a job. Nowadays, you don't have to do anything like that to play in front of people."
So that's what they try to do, and they have succeeded at the very least in the multi-instrumental aspect of that formula.
Skinner spends most of his time as a vocalist but also plays trombone and kazoo. Noah Adams plays keyboards, trumpet, accordion and guitar. Bassist Jimmy Williams keeps the rhythm going with an electric bass and a sousaphone. In 2011, Matt Thomas joined the band with his two saxophones, clarinet and back-up vocals. Dane "Bootsy" Schindler holds down the beat on the drum kit.
The variety allows the band to make a spectacle of their musical influences, from acoustic folk and piano power rock to bright New Orleans brass tunes with a burlesque flair.
But playing instruments isn't enough for the boys, who all met as music students at Loyola University New Orleans.
"We play characters on stage," Skinner said. "And we slowly and surely are becoming those characters in real life."
For Skinner, that means playing the ringmaster of the Dirty Bourbon circus, literally and figuratively. On stage, he helps the other band members by getting water, talking between songs and keeping the show moving in the correct direction.
"It's all about pure entertainment," he said. "You can't just be a musician. You can't just be a performer. You can't just be a saxophone player. You have to be an entertainer."
And from that philosophy comes the theatrical energy of the band; the funny stories and the dancing on stage. Sometimes, the theatrics overlap with the music, like in the case of the kazoos and slide whistles.
"It's a very important part of our sound," Skinner said. "A lot of people are playing weird toys on stage these days. We try to use them in a cartoon-ish way; it adds a whole new layer of devilishness to the show."
And so it's hard to describe their music without describing the entire show, which will be at 9:30 p.m. Saturday to Old Town Pub.
Skinner said this is the band's first time in Colorado.
"Honestly, the best part, especially since we've been in Colorado, is watching people who normally don't get up and dance, get up and dance," he said. "That's been awesome in Colorado and that can be a hard thing to find across the country these days."
— To reach Nicole Inglis call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com
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