Dirty Guv'nahs having a ball

By Barry Courter Article posted on Thu. Nov. 29th, 2012
The Dirty Guv'nahs at the Bleak House in Knoxville, TN, on April 1, 2012.
The Dirty Guv'nahs at the Bleak House in Knoxville, TN, on April 1, 2012.
If You Go

* What: Dirty Guv'nahs with Black Cadillacs.

* When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.

* Where: Track 29, 1400 Market St.

* Admission: $12 in advance, $15 day of show.

* Phone: 558-0029.

After playing a last-minute set on one of the smaller stages at Bonnaroo in 2009, the guys in the Dirty Guv'nahs had a powwow and decided to devote themselves to being professional musicians.

They got the gig after coming up 15 tickets shy of selling out the Tennessee Theatre in hometown Knoxville for their debut CD release party.

For frontman James Trimble, the decision was not made lightly, but it was one all six members are happy they made, he said.

"We were just talking over Thanksgiving how lucky we all are to be entrepreneurs and providing a living for six families," he said. "We don't have a major label behind us, so we are an independent business."

It's an enterprise with a good deal of support, especially in East Tennessee. Trimble said the band ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to record "Somewhere Beneath These Southern Skies," the band's latest CD, released in August. They raised $35,000, with two-thirds of that coming from East Tennessee, he said.

As a thank-you, the band, which plays at Track 29 on Saturday, threw a free outdoor concert to celebrate the CD's release in Knoxville, and 10,000 people showed up.

"Knoxville made us and has always been very supportive," Trimble said. "When we started, guys in the band were either in school there, in grad school there or had graduated from UTK."

The band returned to Bonnaroo this past summer, this time on the much larger This Tent stage. Bandmate Michael Jenkins said after their show, "It's my new favorite moment."

The show marked another milestone for the group as well. The members donated their first touring van, a 1994 Ford Club Wagon, to festival organizers, who auctioned it off for charity.

"I don't even know how much it got," Trimble said. "I dropped it off on Sunday, handed over the keys, signed the title and left."

Trimble said for "Southern Skies," he approached writing the songs in a different way.

"I personally interviewed a lot of friends and family members and wrote about them," he said. "It was not all about me. It was an incredible experience. I asked about their feelings about a triumph or a loss."

He would then write a song and, in some cases, go back to the person to play what he had so far and ask further questions.

On Monday, the Guv'nahs were moving into a new rehearsal space in Knoxville in preparation for the next CD -- at least that's what they are telling people.

"We are nowhere near the next," Trimble said with a laugh. "It takes about 18 months of writing, recording, planning. So much. But before you create a big project, you have to say, 'All right, we are ready to get this cranking.' That's where we are."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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