Personnel: Ryan Fleener, Matt Fleener, Jeff Middleton (vocals, guitar); Nick Diamond (drums).
Audio Mixer: Justin Niebank.
Recording information: Blackbird Studios; Hound's Ear; The Castle; Vibe 56.
Photographers: Stephen Boatright; Mark Allen Jefferies.
Country music has evolved into the 21st century as well as any pop music out there, and whether one is happy about how it's done that or not, the fact remains that it has stood its own and even increased its audience in an incredibly diverse and challenging musical era. Yeah, most of the big hits really sound like pop/rock with Nashville vocals, all big drums and stinging electric guitar leads, and the lyrics feign authenticity by name-checking Hank Williams, George Jones, and other country icons while praising the glories of back roads and late-night bars (and dalliances) in an unabashed and deliberate nostalgia that recasts the past in the present as if the only thing that really changes these days is the digital cloud. It is what it is, which brings us to the Dirt Drifters, a band that plays an Americana-infused version of contemporary country that is Nashville enough to sound good on the country stations and rock enough to remind one of blue-collar rockers like Tom Petty and John Mellencamp, or even the harder side of the Eagles and California country-rock. In truth, much like the Zac Brown Band, the Dirt Drifters straddle the country, Americana, and rock genres with a kind of easy grace, and they don't sound manufactured for success. They sound like a real band. There are some real gems on This Is My Blood, the group's first album, including the lead track, the timely and rocking "Something Better," the somber and wise "Hurt Somebody," the striking "Married Men and Motel Rooms," a cautionary tale if there ever were one, and the Saturday night anthem "Just Got Tonight." Nothing here reinvents country, but what the Dirt Drifters do is sound natural and grounded with their sound. Call it 21st century honky tonk with a little dose of the Flying Burrito Brothers and Diamond Rio tossed into the mix. That'll work, even in the digital cloud. ~ Steve Leggett
A country-rock band comprised of veteran Nashville musicians who came from all over the states to live and work in Music City, the Dirt Drifters honed their funky honky tonk sound through countless gigs, building a fan following the old-fashioned way by playing small clubs and bars. Comprised of Matt Fleener, Ryan Fleener, Jeff Middleton, Jeremy Little, and Nick Diamond, the band boasts a wide palette of influences and styles, from country and rock to funk and R&B, all of which they've rolled up into a gritty roadhouse style. The Dirt Drifters signed with Warner Bros. Records and entered the studio with producer Justin Niebank to record their debut album. This Is My Blood was released in 2011. ~ Steve Leggett