Dirty Guv’nahs Stirring Things Up Again: Five Years on the Road

Dirty Guv’nahs Two Night Run at the Bijou, Knoxville, April 2011

The Dirty Guv’nahs have been together five years. I’m not sure how long I’ve been a fan, but I’ve seen them approaching a dozen times and, though I don’t go back to the Preservation Pub days, I do go back to the Barley’s days. Since that time they’ve grown so much as a band, it’s hard to think of them as the same group. Their popularity can be measured by the fact that they booked the Bijou this weekend for both Friday and Saturday night to celebrate their fifth anniversary. I bought tickets for the first show and, in no surprise to anyone who knows how I love music in general and them specifically, after the first show I had to buy tickets for the second.

Moon Taxi opening for the Dirty Guv’nahs, Bijou, Knoxville, April 2011

A group named Moon Taxi opened the show. Their phenomenal keyboard player is from Knoxville and I believe I understood that the band is from Nashville. Their music reminded me of Arcade Fire, though someone more familiar with the music of either or both bands might tell me I’m way off base. They are actually hyped as a jam band, but I didn’t get that at all last night. It’s modern rock and I tried to think what its ancestors would be and I came up a bit empty. The light show reminded me of theatrical rock of the seventies but, thankfully, without the makeup. Sometimes their melodies reminded me of Duran Duran, but with more of the edge of the Clash. Mayor Burchett introduced them and quoted Rolling Stone as saying they will do for modern rock what Lynyrd Skynyrd did for southern rock. They were good, but that’s saying something pretty big. And what’s up with Mayor Burchett starting to show up wherever I’m hanging out? That can’t be a good thing.

Abby Hamm and Russel Bivens introduce the Dirty Guv’nahs
The Guv’nahs were spot on as they always are these days. James’ exuberance alone could carry them, but no one has to carry this band at this point in their history. The musicianship is solid throughout the band. Chris was over-the-top on keyboards last night, Cozmo was his Cozmo self, Michael just gets sweeter on his end of the guitar playing and James’ vocals were great all night. Something happened about two thirds through the two-plus hour set. When the band covered Instant Karma, which was, I think followed by their own Afternoon Eyes, the energy level went to a new level. That song was the highlight of the night for me, though of course Blue Rose Stroll is always a crowd favorite and their version of the Stones Dead Flowers was great fun.
Dirty Guv’nahs, Bijou, Knoxville, April 2011

Dirty Guv’nahs, Bijou Night One, Knoxville,
Surprises of the night included the appearance of Robyn James on violin in an acoustic set that included James and Chris. Scott Miller also joined the band on stage for several songs including the finale: The Weight. Also joining them on that song was Davis Mitchell from Dishwater Blonde and Mitch Stewart who was the original bass player for the band.
Scott Miller joins the Dirty Guv’nahs onstage, Bijou, Knoxville, April 2011

The band was introduced by local celebrities Abby Hamm and Russell Bivens who appear in the video I’ve included below. Much of the show was filmed and a running gag included a “reporter” who was trying to get interviews with the band while they were playing. I assumed this must be for a coming video, but it was a bit distracting. The band has been recording new music and debuted four songs Friday night. My favorite was “Song Number Two,” which presumably will have a different title when it makes it onto a disk. I’ll end this post with the video of a track from their current album Youth is in Our Blood: Baby We Were Young.

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