While Man and I were at Music Fest in Steamboat, we stumbled upon a treasure. The Dirty River Boys!!! Music Fest had 40 bands performing at this six-day event. There were two concerts to be performed at the top of the mountain. Concert goers rode a gondola up, up, up to the summit where there was a beautiful and intimate venue for the performances. I was not familiar with the bands that would be playing there but I really wanted to make it to one of these mountain top shows just to say that I had that experience.
The concert “hall” was about half the size of a school gym. It had beautiful antler chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and was surrounded by large picture windows displaying the gorgeous night view of the mountain.
We first were entertained by 3 artists who played their own pieces and sometimes did impromptu collaborations with one another. They were amazingly talented and my group was impressed. We snapped pictures and checked the schedule again to catch their names. We planned to look them up on iTunes.
Then the next act took the stage.
From the looks of them you could tell that this was not going to be your typical country music band. Half of one guys face was covered by his beard and the other by his long bushy hair. He topped off his mop with a floppy hat reminiscent of John Lennon’s in the Yoko Ono days, complete with pheasant feathers in the band. He looked more hippie then cowboy. Alongside of him was another rough-looking character. He sported long stringy hair that was pulled back into a loose and haphazard ponytail. He wore a dirty truck stop hat, a shirt and jeans. He sat on a wooden box and straddled a drum (snare?). Next up was another bearded fellow. I have no idea what his hair was like because he had the whole thing hidden under a knit beanie. The last guy sort of debunks the “dirty” theme. He was dressed like Roy Rogers. Western shirt with pearl snap buttons, jeans, boots, cowboy hat and even the bandana tied around his neck. His jeans were tucked into his boots and on the right boot was a holster with his name, Colton, branded on it. Colton played the cello/stand up bass and the holster housed his bow.
You could tell most of the crowd had no idea who these guys were. There was lots of murmured speculation.
“It’s The Dirty River Boys,” one of the guys in our party reported. “I heard they were really good!”
“Good” was an understatement.
The boys started playing and the audience was immediately on their feet! Their sound is country, dirtied up by blue grass, dirtied up by some good old-fashioned rock and roll. Their passion for music is heard, felt and seen as these guys were saturated in sweat after one song.
The guy straddling the drum was tribal as he pounded that skin with his tambourine. His head slamming, the hat flew off and his sweat drenched hair was whipping like a horses tail. The girls all screamed!!! He also played some sort of wooden box (I later learned is called a cajon) that I’d never seen/heard. I don’t know what sort of concotion of rhythm this guy was playing but at times the sound was sort of Celtic?
The guy with the beanie had awesome vocals! He also masters the guitar and harmonica. But it’s the way he puts the “man” in mandolin…. YES MA’AM!!! There were more shouts and cheers for that and we all stayed up on our dancing feet.
The John Lennon look a-like also played multiple instruments (all the Dirty Boys did). He is also a vocalist and has a very folksy sound. He too lost his hat and his bushy hair fell into limp wet strands as he ripped sound from his guitar.
And then there was Colton. Clean, pressed and seemingly out-of-place amidst these sweaty dirty boys. It’s his mis-fit to the rest of the band that makes him so right. The band had told us that Colton was a new addition to their group. What luck! His instrument and talent brought meat to their music.
After they played about 4 songs we were on fire! Sold! In Love! with their music. On the gondola ride home we checked the schedule to see when we could hear them again. We found that they would be at the Bear River Grill on our last evening of our trip.
The morning of their last performance I woke up giddy knowing I was going to get to see The Dirty River Boys that night! My girl Lauren and I decided to get there early so that we could have really good seats. Bear River had closed the kitchen and were removing tables and setting up chairs. Lauren spotted the drummer from the band standing near the bar.
“I’m not even going to be cool about this,” I warned her and bee-lined straight for him.
“Hi! I just have to tell you that my first thought when I woke up this morning was that I would get to see The Dirty River Boys tonight!”
He sort of just looked at me as if trying to register what I just said. Stoned? Tired? embarrassed for me? Possibly all of the above. But I don’t stop.
“We just heard you guys play for the first time at the gondola concert and we are so excited to have discovered your sound! We love it!”
“Thanks! That’s awesome.”
Lauren gave her raves as well, though she delivered a much cooler demeanor.
“Reports of your guys performance was all over Facebook the next morning,” she told him.
“Really?!” His face was bright now and excited for what that could mean for the band.
“We came early so we could get really good seats but I think they may kick us out,” I said as I noted that there were no more customers left in the restaurant.
“Which one of you isn’t married? You could say you are my girlfriend.”
“We’re both married,” we laughed.
“Well, you could say you are my sister then so they don’t kick you out.”
“OK! Thanks Brother!”
“Sure! So how’s the family? It’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” he joked.
About that time he was needed for tuning instruments and whatever else a band does to prepare for a performance.
“Oh! Before you go, you should tell me your name. You know, since you’re my brother and all. Plus I’d like to call you something other than ‘Dirty,'” I say extending my hand.
He shakes my hand and introduces himself as Travis.
I wanted to do a little dance! Yea! Lauren and I kept laughing at our great fortune to have arrived when Travis was available to meet. Yea us! Our husbands were at The Grand buying us the bands EP’s.
“They are going to be so proud of us!” I squealed.
“Yeah, we’re with the band.”
“So are we groupies now?”
Lauren laughed at me, as always.
After some time an in-charge sort of looking lady came over and told us they were closed until 3. The doors would open then for the concert.
“Oh…um…well…” I tried to get the cojones to say that I was Travis’ sister but chickened out and Lauren and I obediently exited the restaurant.
“You are the worst groupie ever,” Lauren said.
I hung my head in shame over my Shiner and we sat at a table on the patio outside of Bear River.
When our husbands arrived we relayed our story.
“I can’t believe we were treated like we were No Body’s,” Lauren joked. We checked out the EP jackets to find out all of the guys’ names. Travis’ last name is Stearns.
“Well, that would’ve been good to know back there when I was planning on playing his sister.” Pfft.
Colton’s holster already revealed his name to us. Then there is Nino Cooper in the beanie and Marco Gutierrez in the John Lennon hat.
Their performance was just as hot as the first nights. While Colton laid into the bass I turned to Lauren and shouted, “Woo! He is spanking that thang!”
“I have never wanted to be a cello more!” Lauren cooed.
We burst into laughter and our husbands just shook their heads.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTsiMCefWzg (Sorry, I have not yet figured out how to add links to my blog. This is the Boys performing Boomtown (my favorite!) at Bear River Grill. Marco popped two strings on two different guitars that night. Props to the roadie who kept the music going for us.)
What I love about these guys too is not just their music but their individuality. Such characters! I noticed Marco’s hair is not as unkempt and “dirty” as he may be trying to portray. It’s actually very beautiful and whoever cuts it needs kudos. Nice layers and shape. (Notes of a hair stylists sister.) Nino has such a sweet spirit about him. It’s not the guys who are dirty but their music. And I don’t mean dirty as in naughty but that it’s earthy. It has both an ancient resonance as well as a freshness to it. Their Facebook page describes their music as Outlaw Folk. I think their EP cover says it best: “heart thumpin’, booty bumpin’ music.” It’s the kind of music that reverberates through your core.
When their set was over Lauren and I grabbed our EP’s and a pen and set out to get their autographs.
“We got to get them before they are too big to sign autographs,” Lauren said.
They had revealed during the show that they had played at the Steamboat Music Fest last year to a crowd of about 20 people. Though their audience was still small it has definitely grown!
We found Travis first.
“Dirty!” he signed on mine.
We found Colton James surrounded by a bunch of ski bunnies.
“Thank you guys. We really appreciate you,” he said as he gave his autograph. We squeezed out from between his busty fans…. 😉
We couldn’t find Nino and Marco. Sad face.
We decided to head back to The Grand to shop for more CDs and souvenirs. While Lauren was purchasing a Dirty River Boys shirt I turned and saw…
“Nino! Oh yea!” I turned to Lauren. “Quick give me your pen!”
Nino was shopping too. I love that these guys are still fans themselves. I told him how excited we are about their music and pretty much all the things I said to Travis.
Just then my phone rang. My phone announces who is calling.
“Call from….home,” it said.
“That’s one of your sons,” Lauren reminded me.
“Um…yeah…’ignore,'” I hit the ignore button on my phone and turned my attention back to Nino. He was so zen and gracious. He expressed his appreciation for us as fans and signed our EP covers.
“We got everyone but Marco,” I said sadly.
“Well, I will get his when I see them perform in Houston. Or Austin. Or San Marcos…” Lauren bragged.
Dont get me wrong, Colorado is gorgeous and a fabulous place to live but The Dirty River Boys have given me one more reason to wish I was back in Texas.