Bozeman-based, self proclaimed “Receational Americana” band — The Dusty Pockets — are headlining a benefit concert for Bozeman Friends of Music at the Rialto on November 27th. The show will feature an array of special guests including Torrin Daniels & Shawn Swain of Kitchen Dwellers, The Horn Stars, and more. The Dusty Pockets bassist/vocalist, John Griffith a.k.a. Griff, told us more about the band, their recent projects, and what to expect at the holiday show.
What brought you together as a band?
The band was originally built around the strength of songs that Dave Walther had been writing since he was a kid. Members of Cure For The Common had been accompanying him when breaks in their schedule allowed. After that group disbanded, the rubber hit the road, so to speak. The first gig with the current lineup was actually a tribute show performing the music of The Band. We all enjoyed one another’s company enough that it seemed reasonable to keep on playing.
Are you all from Bozeman?
Negative, Matt grew up in Billings while the rest of us hail from the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Midwest. Think of us as a stew of flavors each representing a different regional terroir, coming together to form a tasty bouquet of rock and roll delight.
Your latest release “DP EP Vol. 1” came out in August… Where did you record it?
DP Studios in Bozeman, MT. We moved into a 1500sqft warehouse on the Northside of town last year and built a temple to the rock gods. In addition to being our rehearsal and performance space, we also help other artists bring their creations to life. Hit us up if you want to make a record there too!
How long did it take to record?
Tracking was complete by the end of Q2 2019. Our buddy Preston White at Southern Ground in Nashville did the mixing/mastering over the summer. Passing it off to another set of ears certainly expedited the process and he just did a phenomenal job.
Was there a general theme to the EP?
I wish I could wax poetically that it was conceptually inspired by something like the book “Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” In reality, the record has songs that touch on maintaining family life, growth through changing landscapes, and nostalgic narratives about the places where we were raised.
So since its “Vol. 1”, does that mean there’s a Vol. 2 in the works?
Absolutely, it’ll be out in early 2020. We’re affectionately referring to this collection as the Double DP EP. There’s some talk of picking the favorites off the two for a vinyl release later in 2020.
Does everyone in the band write songs?
The band started out playing tunes mostly from Dave’s back catalog. These days, Dave, Garrett, or I will bring in lyrics and a skeleton or sometimes a fully fleshed-out piece. Once the five of us are in a room together, the arrangement begins to solidify. Matt’s really good at bringing in these signature guitar lines that just elevate the tune or a bridge that says “But also, listen to this…” To some extent, everyone plays a part in the final composition.
What’s 2020 look like for y’all? Are you planning on touring?
We’ll keep recording new music, building the brand, hopefully hit some of the bigger festivals in the region next summer. Touring will come when the timing’s right. Responsibility is a heavy responsibility, with a new baby in the family, jobs, etc. We’ll keep getting after it.
What’s your connection to Bozeman Friends of Music? Why did you choose them for this benefit?
I have kids who play in the orchestra and I met the BFOM folks at the annual instrument swap they organize. BFOM has done a lot of great work to support elementary, middle, and high school music programs in the Gallatin Valley from new instrument purchases to scholarship programs. Kids who learn to play at an early age and keep playing are just better able to digest the complex world in which we live, that’s a fact. If we can play even a small role in supporting them, we’re doing our job.
Are you guys good friends with the boys from Kitchen Dwellers? Have you played with Torrin and Shawn before?
We love those dudes, done everything from late night living room jams to sharing stages over the years. Most recently we opened for them at Pine Creek and then a couple of our members joined them for a full-on electrified set. It’s always nice when the bluegrass and rock communities can set aside their differences for an evening and make sweet musical love with each other.
What’s your connection with Paige Rasmussen and Kelly Nicholson? What about Horn Stars?
Those ladies are a big part of the scene around here and they’re awesome people. The Horn Stars go back to the Cure For The Common days. They played on DP’s first record and they’ll be on the next EP. Two of them moved to Denver, where the working musician has it a little easier, so we don’t get to hang with them as much as we’d like. We try to get them on board anytime we have a special show. Those dudes have a deep musical understanding and just make the band sound better. Not to mention, they share our twisted sense of humor, so it’s an easy hang.
Bozeman High School Orchestra will be joining ya’ll for the show… were any of you in orchestra growing up?
Dave and Matt were in the jazz band in high school. I tried out for the handbell choir in 5th grade, but didn’t make the cut.
What about this show makes it most special?
This is really like our own little version of The Band’s Last Waltz, only The Dusty Pockets won’t be breaking up after the performance. The holiday season can be heavy for a lot of folks but it’s really just about spending time with the people you love, honoring traditions, and spreading joy. Plus, we know most people don’t have anything to do the next day besides eat food, so we’re just trying to throw a big party for anyone who’s in town.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in Bozeman?
David Kern’s 60th birthday party.
What’s the signature aspect of a Dusty Pockets show?
Strong songwriting, powerful vocals, guitar heroics, tight grooves.
Are you guys friends with the artist who designed this show’s poster? Did you have input or just let them run free with the design?
Jacob Garvin is well-versed across a variety of creative media. His work is unique and there are some commonalities between our design aesthetics. We gave him some general ideas but the artist needs to have some creative license and not feel shackled by too many constraints. He’s a really sweet person as well, so working with him is just easy.
Anything else you’d like to note about the holiday show?
We’re doing a raffle as part of the fundraising efforts. Music Villa donated a really sweet Guild acoustic guitar and we’re offering a free day of tracking at our studio as the grand prize. Tickets will be available at the show and we’ll do the drawing at the end of the night. Also, Montucky is donating 50 cents for every Cold Snack sold at the show, so you can feel good about drinking a few more than normal, if that’s your thing!