The Dirty Bourbon River Show is taking New Orleans around the country. The act combines the fun of a New Orleans marching band with Americana rock and good-time music. But not every stop is a good time.
"We had one crazy gig in Houston at a place called Super Happy Funland," says Charles "Big Charlie" Skinner, vocalist with the Dirty Bourbon River Show.
Super Happy Funland was a stop on the group's very first tour.
"It turned out that the place was also a residence for homeless people. There was murals on the walls of people eating themselves. We had a huge caravan because we didn't have a van ... and we had to sleep there. Our sound man got mugged that night ... "
The group was formed by Loyola University students in 2008.
Frontman and multi-instrumentalist Noah Adams teamed up with drummer Dane "Bootsy" Schindler (a New Orleans native) and formed the act Buck Johnson and the Hootenanny Kid. The group then expanded into what became the Dirty Bourbon River Show.
"They came to me about two weeks before and said, 'Hey, we need a ringmaster!' And I said, 'Great! I've got the perfect jacket and I'll stand on stage, smoke a cigar and introduce you guys!'"
Skinner, who had grown up in Georgia, was ready.
"I moved down to New Orleans when I was 18 to go to college and was totally immersed into the culture," says Skinner. "I had a realization that you can't just be a singer in New Orleans. You can't just be anything. You have to be a multi-instrumentalist. You have to be a showman. You have to be everything, because that's what it takes to be on top there. It makes you rise to the occasion. It's really hard work and it kicks your (butt), but sometimes you need to get your (butt) kicked."
The group's debut was at the legendary New Orleans club Tipitina's.
"It was great, our drummer was working there at the time and he just got us thrown in there," says Skinner. "It was great. There was an awesome crowd that night."
The group's eclectic blend began to catch on.
"At one point we had a residency. We'd play at this one club at 9 o'clock every Tuesday night and burlesque dancers would put on a big show. That was a lot of fun and a great learning experience."
When the musicians graduated from college (Skinner is only member who didn't, but plans to go back) they hit the road in earnest.
"We were all just kind of ready for it," says Skinner. "We were all just ready to jump on the road and see what we could do. Once we did we ended up really enjoying doing and eking out a living at it. It's wonderful to be living and working musicians, you know? "
The group is working its way west a little at a time.
"If we went any further west we'd just be fooling ourselves into thinking we could afford the gas!" says Skinner.
He says the band always wants to keep a presence in New Orleans, but, right now, everyone is having a blast traveling as much as they can.
"You meet a lot of really awesome people and get to see the country. It's really fantastic!"
Dirty Bourbon River Show
With: The Mumbles
When: 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16
Where: Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria, 200 E. Jackson Ave.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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