Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie…That’s the only way the members of Shreveport, La.’s Dirtfoot can describe the sound of their band, a smorgasbord of musical sounds wrapped in good old fashioned Southern toe-tapping.
“Dirtfoot’s name comes from a literal meeting of stomping your foot in the dirt to a good song, but at the same time it’s more of a vibe, the feeling that the music gives us,” said J Bratlie, banjoist and backup vocalist for Dirtfoot since the band’s beginnings in 2000.
The band’s eclectic sound comes from its diverse collection of instruments, including acoustic guitar, banjo, upright bass, drums, saxophone, and various percussion instruments.
“We first started out as kind of a revolving door band playing on Matt’s, our lead vocalist and guitar player’s, front porch,” Bratlie said. “A trombone came in for a while, we had a cello for a while, and we even had a designated washboard player for a while.”
Bratlie said players would come and go but their saxophone player, Scott Gerardy, joined the band after showing up with a mandolin to “jam.”
“We were thinking about asking him to play and he mentioned ‘well, I do have a sax but I haven’t played it since high school,’ and we asked him to bring it next time he came over,” Bratlie said. “And the next time he came by it just changed everything.”
Over time people would join the band and if they worked out well they stuck, Bratlie said.
“There’s quite a few people I would love to have a back, like a few of the trombone players we had for a while,” Bratlie said. “The lineup has naturally evolved, and the sound comes from that. We don’t sit down to write music the way we sound, it just kind of comes out that way.”
The band, although described by Bartlie as “broke” has had quite a bit of help from web based fundraiser Kickstarter.com. Their last album, “Live and In Prison,” which was recorded at Wade Correctional Facility in Homer, La., was funded almost completely by fan contributions accumulated through Kickstarter. The funding they received through Kickstarter allowed Dirtfoot to record a live album, a music video, produce a live performance DVD, a documentary, and vinyl pressings of the album.
Dirtfoot is currently using Kickstarter once again to help fund the recording and production of their newest album. The album is being produced by local Louisiana musician, producer, and drummer Brady Blade at Blade Studios in Shreveport. The band has already exceeded their $16,000 goal, and is now looking to raise enough money to release the album on vinyl.
“As of right now, we’re shooting for an early fall deal for the album release to coincide with some of the fall festival circuit,” Bartlie said. “We didn’t know how the recording process would go, but it was real smooth and really easy. A couple of the songs were actually first takes.”
Dirtfoot is no stranger to playing the festival circuit and has been on the lineup for Ozark’s Wakarusa Festival six times, with this year’s performance being their seventh.
“We started playing Waka in ’07, when it was still in Kansas. We did two years up there in Kansas and then followed it down to the mountain,” Bartlie said.
Dirtfoot is playing two official sets at Waka this year and one unofficial set. They are also playing the annual Friday morning Chompdown, which is the free communal breakfast they do every year.
“We’re stoked, we love Waka. We know them (the personnel) so well, and it’s really just like a big family. The Waka family is very good to us.” Bartlie said.
Dirtfoot is planning on touring in Kansas City and St. Louis after Waka, and plans to be on the road significantly for the fall to promote their new record. Dirtfoot’s music can be found on their website, dirtfoot.com, Spotify, or their Facebook page at facebook.com/dirtfootband. Their music is also available on iTunes.
For more info. on Wakarusa and the line-up, visit www.wakarusa.com.