Explosive energy, outrageous theatrics, insane talent, and a whole lot of whiskey: welcome, folks, to the Dirty Bourbon River Show. Elated to have finally returned home from tour, this New Orleans quintet shook the walls of Café Prytania last Saturday night, sparing no one from their invigorating rhythms and infectious spirit.
Dirty Bourbon River Show’s circus-gypsy-big band blend captured its audience with an unapologetic, irresistible sound. The crowd didn’t just dance—they flailed, happily succumbing to over-the-top instrumentals and a riotous stage presence. DBRS delighted all with their kazoo-ridden “Spectacular & Magnificent Day”, one of their more animated numbers as it begs the question: “Fat lady on a little boat,/Just how does it float?/Well I don’t know.” Big Charlie’s throaty bellow then rumbled through “Up We Go Now!”, a taunting melody reminiscent of fun-house mirrors and smoky parlor rooms. More a rowdy party than a concert, crowd members opened wide as front man Noah Adams poured whiskey into their mouths—his mischievous grin seemingly embodying their lyric, “Clean up my act I know I should, but I’d rather be up to no good.”
The show blazed on to the blaring sounds of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones, through the defiant “One Way or Another (I’ll Be Free)” and the crowd-pleasing “From Time to Time”. As the set drew to a close, we begged for an encore, and Dirty Bourbon indulged us with a wildly entertaining cover of “Casanova” which had the whole crowd belting out the less-than-polite lyrics. We were out of breath by the time the last symbol crashed, grinning like idiots and, well, a little drunker than when we began.
Check out the highlights from my interview with the eccentric Noah Adams, below:
a/o: You guys have a pretty unique sound. How would you classify your style of music?
NA: [pause] One million things.
a/o: One million things?
NA: You just have a million things.. You have like, broken glass, the light of the moon, the smell of fresh grass, people on the ground, people in the sky, people floating, rivers of marmalade, rivers of candy…One million things!
a/o: What are your musical influences, and where you do you find your inspiration?
NA: A million things. I like Chopin and Janis Joplin. Tom Waits, Parliament, West African rhythms, Polynesian music, any thing with polyrhythms…. Everything. I like it all. Blues music, isolated music, folk music, new music.. I like everything except disco, but I really like 70s disco, Stevie Wonder disco.. I have a problem with techno though, and new country, but I really like old country, like John Prine and Hank Williams. I like everything.. One million things.
a/o: If you could perform with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
NA: Robert Johnson.
a/o: What are you working on now?
NA: We just finished tracking our 5th and 6th studio albums, so we’re having those mixed now and we have a few more to record for the 6th one. I’m currently in the song-writing process for the 7th and the 8th albums.
a/o: How are these albums going to be different than what we’ve seen before?
NA: They’re bigger, they’re better, the ideas are refined, they’re more complex, it’s tighter, there’s more multi-instrumentalism…We’ve grown, we’re older, both in our sound and the way we approached producing the album, laying down the tracks and all the segways and everything. A bunch of stuff.
a/o: You guys have been pretty successful, and you’re on your way up. Do you have any words of advice for other aspiring young New Orleans musicians?
NA: Work hard, make the gig on time, we have a really bad reputation in New Orleans of not making gigs on time… Listen to everything you can do, everything you listen to, imitate it, but when you make your own music, do not imitate it at all…Basically, when you listen and absorb something, become it, try to sing it in their voice, try to paint it how they paint it, learn all their stuff…But when you make your own stuff, no imitation. Just remember all that, do your own thing… Oh, and watch out for police, ‘cause they’re really corrupt.
There’s definitely a certain madness to this whiskey-soaked musical circus that makes them undeniably charming. To learn more, check out their website at www.dirtybourbonrivershow.com.
Review, Interview and Photos by Polly Sawabini