Category Archives: Blog
As seen on CMT and MTV, check out “Fairlane”, our newest music video! Directed by Scott Murphy and produced by badland pictures, the video stars actors Matt Dearman and Hannah Margaret Allen. Thanks to all our fans for the support!
Click below to download a demo version of the song “New Years Day”! We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and if you’re still looking for New Years Eve plans, come on out to the Tennessee Theater and celebrate with us!
Christmas will forever remind me of our December 2009 trip to Woodstock, NY to record our “Youth is in Our Blood” album. In honor of Levon and the boys, we are proud to share with you our cover of The Band’s song titled “Christmas Must Be Tonight” (1977). Click below to download!
If you hear an unfamiliar harmony vocal on the track, then that’s because we invited our good friend and fellow Knoxvillian Josh Oliver to sit in and play some keys / sing some harmonies.
Merry Christmas from The Dirty Guv’nahs!
James, Michael, Aaron, Justin, Chris, and Cozmo
“Don’t Give Up on Me” was the first song that we wrote after we
recorded Youth Is In Our Blood up in Woodstock in December 2009. That
was almost 3 years ago. Wow. Jenkins wrote all of the music to that
song and it hung around for a long time as “Song 1” without any lyrics
or melody… meaning that it was the first song we wrote after the Youth
recording sessions. (For anyone wondering, “Fairlane” was “Song 2”)
The lyrics finally came together after a series of conversations with
two different friends of mine who had been struggling deeply with
being accepted for who they are by a loved one. My two friends told me
eerily similar stories about how they had personal histories that they
felt they just “can’t share with anyone .” They each told me tough
stories about starting to date someone seriously, only for the dating
relationship to end abruptly once they revealed that they were
damaged, broken, and imperfect. This song is a cry for acceptance,
and a cry for a graceful lover.
“All I really want is someone to tell me I’m wanted
Can you hear me?
I’m longing to know tonight
Gimme an answer
I need a fighter
I’m a long way off
Hanging on a little string
Hoping you notice
I’m loaded with questions
Old enough to know
But young enough to still believe
Don’t give up on me.”
Songs come from all different kinds of places. The ones on our new album come from stories about myself, stories about our band, and stories about friends and family members who are connected to our band. I read an article about a year ago in Psychology Today that said this:
“Stories are about collaboration and connection. They transcend generations, they engage us through emotions, and they connect us to others. Through stories we share passions, sadness, hardships and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.”
Recently, I’ve had a handful of folks come up to me at shows and say, “Hey man, I’m diggin (Enter Song Name), what is the story behind it?” So, I thought I’d take a few blogs to explain some of the inspiration behind a few of the songs.
“Fairlane” is a song that was inspired by my Mom and Dad’s love story. In 1972, my Dad bought a 1964 Ford Fairlane for $700 and named it Fred. Fred didn’t have any computerized technology inside of him, and he certainly lacked a few things cosmetically. He went with my Dad to community college in Columbia, and then made his way to a university in the big city of Nashville, TN. In April 1975 my Dad met my Momma and it immediately shook up all of his plans. She was studying education and psychology and my Dad was wanting to be an engineer. In August 1976 they got married in their parents backyard. My mom dropped out of college and they moved to Cookeville, TN to finish my Dad’s engineering degree at Tennessee Tech. Crazy 20 year old kids who thought they were invincible. Their parents didn’t think it was a great idea to get married in the first place, but they did it anyway. They lived in married student housing and to pay their bills, my Mom worked at Shoney’s and my Dad preached on Sundays at a rural congregation in Cookeville. Throughout all their adventures, they had Fred. I spoke of Fred’s cosmetic blemishes, the biggest of which were holes in the rusted out floorboard that you could drop softballs through. When they whizzed down the highway at a top speed of 50mph, you could watch the concrete whizz underneath them. In the winter, cold air flooded the the cabin of old Fred through those same holes. The heater in the car was sub-par, so to keep warm my folks kept a few blankets in the backseat. They used to go on mini-vacations to state parks cause that’s all they could really afford. They lived in Chattanooga for a short while before making their way back to Nashville where my Dad finally got a job as an engineer at the local power company and my Mom finished college so that she could be a teacher. My Mom and dad put 150,000 miles on old Fred, bringing him to a grand total of 200 and some odd thousand miles. Sometime before me or my brother were born they sold Fred for $250. I’d say they got a pretty good deal.
Thanks for the continued support yall.
Our new album “Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies” is released today!! We are so excited for you all to hear it! This is YOUR album, completely funded by you, the fans. We cannot thank you all enough for the opportunity to write and perform music for a living. We put our heart and soul into these songs and we hope you like them. You can buy the album at iTunes today, or stream the music from our website. Lyrics are up as well!
a coupla weeks ago james turned to me and said, “hey ol coz, im ready to do some festin’”. “festin’”-playing music at festivals, drinkin beer and red bull at festivals, eatin 2 to 4 heaping plates per meal of free organic food at festivals, watchin bands at festivals, wearin sleeveless button up shirts at festivals. i said, “you’ve done it again ol james, another one of your bright ideas”. we jumped off the summer festin’ season hittin up wakarusa then bonnaroo. we were very excited to be a part of these two festivals. in addition to the guvs crew we had badland pictures (the murph and dearmanian) with us to grab footage from our trips. it was exciting times for us as we set out on the journey of ages.
the wakarusa festival is located on this mountain in the ozarks. the ozarks are very far away… from everything. to remedy the situation of a long drive we stopped at gus’s fried chicken in memphis for some chicken and 40’s. it was aaron’s birthday too, i think he just turned 14. i bought him some gummy worms and the first season of rugrats on dvd. next year he’ll get his learner’s permit, im so excited!!!! gus’s is the best fried chicken any of us have ever eaten. it’s the crispiest and the juiciest of all time. they give u beans and cole slaw with the fried pickles and ranch sauces for your dipping pleasures. we feasted like kings until none of us could really move that well, then dearmanian drove like the wind and took us to little rock where we slept for the night.
the next day we continued our trek to the mountain. we finally arrived and it looked really awesome up there. it was the last day of the festival, but people were still goin strong. we put the mule in its temporary resting spot beside our stage and threw some football for a while to work out the kinks. justin chugged a bottle of pepto and disappeared for a while. it was time for lunch and i was hungry so i ate three plates of vegetarian lasagna and a couple of salads. i drank a classical coke and ate a few cookies too. we hung around in the artist tent for a while where we had air conditioning and brews. martin guitars gave us a sponsorship and they had a booth set up in the artist area so we got to meet some of they’re reps and get some free t-shirts and acoustical guitars. thank you martin for hooking us up. there was also this dude running around there dressed up like peter pan.
we finished up lunch and headed over to the mule to start dealing with our gear. on the way over we were informed that 60mph winds and a hail storm was on it’s way and was scheduled to hit right before we went on. awesome. after hearin the news we took cover in the mule. i kind of wanted to get struck by lightning because i thought it would be a cool facebook update but they wouldn’t let me stand outside. the storm passed over and the mule kept us safe. once the storm was over the fans banded together for a celebration and we played a rock show for them. we jammed the good jams into the night while a girl on the side of the stage, that was dressed like an indian, danced and blew bubbles out into the crowd. twas a rockin set.
the next day we headed back towards knox and had to stop in for some 87 gasoline and some chips. we pulled into this exxon off the interstate that had a really weird vibe about it. little did we know it was gonna be the worst gas station stop we’ve ever experienced. all of us were delirious and in goofy moods when we got there. we all walked into the gas station like a bunch of punk kids out of an eighties skateboarding movie. the gas station attendant was givin us the hairy eyeball. the line was long for the bathroom so james decided to go in the women’s. the attendant got mad and she didn’t speak english so she yelled some gibberish at us. while all this was goin on, jenkins decided it would be cool to juggle some orange gatorade bottles and fumbled one of them. the bottle crashed on the floor and spilled everywhere. personally i think it was just a design flaw on the bottle so i blame gatorade but she blamed us. she yelled some more gibberish and started mopping up the floor. in the meantime, doody found an undersized red cowboy hat in the “cowboy hat” section of the gas station with a chinstrap. he perched it on the back of his head and strutted through the aisles of the gas station. he kinda looked like a dude version of little debbie and i could picture him on the side of a box of swiss cake rolls. i was laughing uncontrollably as i purchased my big grab of funyuns. after completely dominating the gas station we all piled in the mule and it was my turn to drive. i pulled off and heard this loud pop. i seem to have forgotten to pull the gas pump out of the mule so i ripped the hose right off and it was dragging behind us like a tail. at this time the lady ran out and her face was so red because of anger. she started yelling at me and i couldn’t understand her so all i said was yeeeaaaa the whole time.
the following weekend we did the magnificent bonnaroo music festival. we were scheduled for three shows and one of them was on the main tent to open the entire festival. we arrived on the scene and the excitement started to settle in. immediately we did a performance on radio bonnaroo that went really awesome. thank you radio bonnaroo for letting us play on your station. after we finished up there we had a few interviews then went and ate some lunch. i made a salad mountain and a five inch wide sandwich to eat. i also drank a throwback dewski cuz they’re made with real sugar. the food and drinks were unlimited so i loved it so much. we went to our stage and did the soundcheck to a pretty big crowd. the crowd was hungry for music and i could definitely feel it. after soundcheck we went back to the green room to discuss the setlist and get loose for the show. they gave us the 10 minute warning so we walked over behind the stage. we couldn’t see the crowd but you could hear them. it sounded like a ton of people but we didn’t know exactly how many. at about the 5 minute mark the crowd starts clapping in sync with each other and it sounded like an army out of lord of the rings. it was a huge sound. they told us “the time is now” and we walked up on stage. the crowd started yelling and it was the biggest sound i think ive ever heard. there was a huge sea of people packed in shoulder to shoulder that were ready for a rock and roll facial. we delivered hot fire for an hour and it was amazing. jenkins and james wore muscle shirts for the show. we couldn’t believe we just kicked off bonnaroo in front of 5 figures of people that were cheering for us. the other two shows we played were rockin as well with thick crowds of music lovers. we played jams o’plenty for many eardrums that weekend. i also got to watch some awesome music. the avett brothers murdered it and so did radiohead but i really had to pee cuz i was double fistin cheerwine all day. the word and moon taxi tore it up as well. we left on saturday so i didn’t get to catch the rest of the festival. in addition, justin and aaron did an interview with our friend david koechner on his podcast and we ate lunch with the avett brothers. they actually sat about ten tables away from us but i did make eye contact with them sometimes while i ate my lamb meat. thank u ashley capps and the rest of ac entertainment for giving us this opportunity to play and eat all your food. i gained 5 pounds.
Sometime in early 2005, I bought my first ticket to Bonnaroo. I had always been music crazed and had attended hundreds of concerts, but had spent bulk of my youth listening to punk, ska, and R&B music. I wanted to go to Bonnaroo because something had changed inside me. A month before buying that ticket, I had heard The Rolling Stones for the first time ever, and I was falling in love with rock and roll. Artists like My Morning Jacket, The Faces, Rod Stewart, Elton John, and The Band had found their way into my constant CD rotation. Keep in mind that this was way back before we had ever even thought about forming the Guv’nahs. I was a big fan and a music appreciator, with no intentions of creating music, and certainly no intentions of being a singer in a band. About a month before Bonnaroo, I remember my roommates Justin Hoskins and Richard Baird telling me that if I loved The Band then I needed to watch The Last Waltz, a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese which detailed the final concert of The Band. So, I found a copy of the film and watched it. Shortly after that, I remember watching the film Festival Express and seeing a younger version of the band. Immediately, I became obsessed.
Besides just loving the sound of The Band, I also loved the dynamic of The Band. They didn’t appear to have a true leader. It looked and sounded like everyone in the group was a role player. If I was picking favorite personalities early on, then mine would have been Rick Danko, Levon Helm, and Robbie Robertson… in that order. But Levon’s voice was the one that I would eventually become most drawn to, because I felt like it was most like my own.
While at Bonnaroo, I remember asking myself what it was about live music that I loved the most… and I concluded that I loved live concerts because it was one of the few places on earth where a group can congregate and be collectively equal for a period of time. The crowd rolls in, but when the band starts playing, it doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, black, white, or awkward… the music creates an environment of equality, even if only for 1 hour. When the band stops, normal life resumes… but maybe someone leaves a little bit changed. I was a dreamer then, still am I guess.
Fast forward 4+ years to August 2009 and I’m playing in a band a few weekends a year and working in a cubicle at the University of Tennessee with the rest of my time. I clearly remember sitting in my cubicle one day in early August and getting a phone call from an unknown New York number. Normally, I screen all unknown numbers… but for some reason I answered this one and it ended up changing the course of my life.
On the other end of the line was a voice that said, “Hey James, got your email. This is Justin Guip at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. We listened to some of the demos that you sent us and we are really diggin it. When do you wanna come up here and record?”
We ended up going to Woodstock for 2 weeks in December 2009 to record Youth Is In Our Blood. While we were there we met Levon Helm for the first time. Kind, humble, and witty are the ways that I would describe him. We recorded that album in his home, which is named “The Barn”, and everyday we would watch him wake up, put on a robe and go take Muddy for a walk (his dog). Everywhere he went, he took Muddy with him. In the car, in the house, on a walk around the property. Everywhere. On a Saturday night while we were up there recording, we were asked to open up for the Levon Helm Band at one of his famed Midnight Rambles. Obviously, we accepted and had the night of our lives. After the ramble was over, Levon and his crew personally invited us to his personal Christmas party. Again, we accepted… thinking, there will probably be 200 people at this party. After our final night of recording, we head to Levon’s Christmas party… showing up a little bit late. When we get there, there’s a crowd of maybe 20 to 25 people, most of which are family members. In walk the Guv’nahs and our crew of 6, upping the party’s number of attendees by about 25%. We ended the night at some bar in the middle of Woodstock with Levon’s crew dancing and singing the night away. Levon was obviously asleep by about 10pm. After all, he was battling cancer and was in his late 60′s.
Levon’s management contacted us again about a year later and asked us to come up to The Barn and open for another of the Midnight Rambles, this time in January 2011. At the end of that night, Levon asked the Guv’nahs to get up on stage and encore “The Weight” with him and the band. Taking the stage, Levon leaned over to me and said, “Son, you’re taking the first verse.” Luckily, I knew all the words by heart. Nervous, I grabbed a mic between Levon and his daughter Amy Helm. The 4 count of the sticks, and then the song began. I will never ever forget harmonizing on the “Take a load off Annie’s” and the “Catch a cannonball” ending with his daughter Amy Helm. Every band member was on an instrument. One of the purest moments of true joy that I’ve ever experienced.
Yesterday, Levon Helm passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by many friends and family at the hospital as he left this world and went onto the next. The crew that worked for Levon was one of the most tightly knit groups of people that I have ever encountered. We received a phone call today from the studio engineer, and he said that the vibe up in Woodstock is still very positive. We pray for strength for them during this next phase of each of their lives.
Levon Helm was a good man. He brought joy to the world. On stage and in person, he was inspiration and an encouragement to many. I am thankful for the short time that we got to spend with him.
the last five months or so have been pretty amazing for us. thanx to support from our fans we raised 37000 dollars to record our rock and roll songs on to a compact disc. We are very excited about these new songs. they are reflecting our progress as a band, as songwriters, and as studio musicians. we split our time recording at sony tree studios and the art house. Sony studios are super nice. there’s this sweet heart lady that runs the front desk that’s been there since the sixties and her name is judy. she was always excited to see us walk in every morning and i enjoyed having conversations with her because she was always happy. they also have endless supplies of grape faygo. i cant drink coffee because it makes me have anxiety eruptions so i just drank tons of faygos so i could be full of the spirit while i cheered on the rhythm section as they recorded their parts. we were rolling through the rhythm tracks a lot quicker than we thought we would so that created some cool momentum. high fives were all around and i got so excited that i spent 42 dollars at a sushi house for lunch. the menus had pictures of the sushi on the back. i had too much sugar and was really hungry so i chose the three most colorful ones. i wont use that method of ordering next time.
once we finished our first phase of recording we had a few days off then went back to nashville to finish up our overdubs. this time we were at “the art house” which is the legendary charlie peacock’s studios. the studio is built on to his house which is a really old church that’s been restored. this place was like a make believe land, it had a very magical feel to it. historic architecture with some good landscaping and a swing in the yard built for huffin cigs in. if i was a person who wrote books, i would live in a house like that.
we’ve been working with a really cool producer/engineer combo. Ross Copperman and Richie Biggs. Ross is an awesome producer to work with and he has very strong ideas. we work solid together creatively and it’s always constructive. he also has really good cologne. seriously, he just makes the room smell like dillard’s. it reminds me of back when i was in middle school before i knew what cologne was. i just thought everybody was coating their chests with deodorant so i did the same. then i started to develop a rash because my chest could not sweat and quickly found out that i was an idiot. Richie is a jedi master engineer as well as a huge inspirational force behind the music. during my overdubs he would come in the tracking room and dance around so i could feel like i was playing live. he pulled a ton of creativity out of us during the rhythm tracking and overdubbing sessions. the songs are sounding solid. thank you to everyone that donated to our cause.
we also did our first run of the year which was about 7 shows over ten days. we are very happy with how it went. atlanta, birmingham, and nashville sold out. houston, austin, dallas, and especially memphis had great showings. it was a lot of fun to play our new songs live because the crowd tries so hard to sing along and they have no idea what the words are. they just kinda leave their mouths open during the song and follow their hearts. in nashville i saw a dude in the crowd that was havin such a good time that he headbutted his own fist. it was pretty weird, but he might have just drank one too many dewskies. there were lots of new faces and it was really cool to see them singing our songs. i had the best fried chicken that ive ever eaten on this trip. it’s a place called gus’s in memphis. we also ate at a benihana japanese steak house. they didn’t have the white sauce so it hurt my feelings. to cheer me up, doody told the waiter that it was justin’s birthday and they sang us this japanese song and gave justin a really cool hat.
we believe its gonna be a really good year this year. its exciting to be releasing these new songs. it’s also exciting because we have a hometown show comin up in about a week and a half. we’re doin two nights at the bijou theatre on friday feb. 24th and sat. feb 25th. the shows are gonna be rockin. we have the black cadillacs opening on one night and the delta saints on the other. dont be a nerd and buy some tickets.
(you can follow cozmo on twitter at @its_just_ol_coz)
Thanks to all our fans who helped us successfully raise money for our Kickstarter Campaign!! We cannot express how much this has surprised and humbled us. The new stuff is sounding great and we can’t wait for you to hear it!
Much, Much Love,
The Dirty Guv’nahs