The Dirty Guv’nahs from Knoxville, Tennessee have been described as “a passionate, jubilant slice of rock meets Americana.” Their gritty roots sound brings crowds to their knees and awakens a funk vibe that has long been missing from the rock scene in the south. Interestingly, The Guv’nahs were born from academia, members coming together while pursuing their respective master’s degrees. The buzz for the band grew and soon the University of Tennessee grads were throwing caution to the wind, choosing the life of a rolling stone over a corporate 9-5 gig. I would say their decision is paying off in spades. James Trimble, lead singer of Dirty Guv’nahs spoke with AMG before they take the stage at Smith’s Olde Bar.
Some fans said on music blogs they had driven from all over the southeast to see the Guvs play. Do you often hear fan stories like this?
I love it! It is happening more and more. It is really crazy. We had some fans come to Chattanooga on New Year’s Eve who drove from Philadelphia, Nashville, Memphis, from Atlanta…..just coming to see us! Tailgating before the show, we love it. It kind of caught us off guard this year but in a good way.
You are recording the new album right now, why did you decide to stay independent?
It was really the only way we know how to do it and it makes the most sense for us and for our fans. It is doing it our way and it works.
What has been your favorite gig you played thus far in your career?
The first time we sold out a show in New York City was probably my favorite. We played NYC a couple of times and the next visit we played the Mercury Lounge. Sold it out the first time we played there. It was such a cool thing, it was crazy. 10 hours from home and selling out a show in New York City. It felt really amazing. Another one of my favorites was when we moved from the bars to the theater for the first time in Knoxville and sold it out. It was just surreal. We are a band that plays a lot of bar room songs and our sound had been progressing….it felt like we were growing from the bars and then on to the theaters and other venues. It’s great because it allows us to expand our sound.
Southern Ground artist Levi Lowrey once said “Rock and Roll is alive and well with the Dirty Guv’nahs.” What made you fall in love with rock and roll?
That makes me more than happy! I love that guy. Love his songs and as a person, he is so cool. As far as rock and roll, we started this band as a onetime experiment in college. We wanted to play music we liked and the original songs we would write were connected to the artists we loved like The Rolling Stones, The Band. They are our influences in so many ways.
I think something not everyone knows about the band is you have some “brainiac” guys in this group. Nuclear engineering degrees, masters in public administration… why did you choose music as your career path?
(laughing). Yeah, we have five masters degrees in our band. Our youngest wanted to go to law school and we told him, “man, this band thing is working!” So he held off on going. The band started while the majority of us were in graduate school. It became something where we would play on the weekend, make some money to get us by until the next week, a side project. Then we graduated and had to make hard decisions on taking a full time job or a part time job so we could tour. We all just said “let’s go for it.” It’s crazy but we have all been able to make this our full time career. It is working and we are very honored.
See James and the rest of the Dirty Guv’nahs tonight at Smith’s Olde Bar.