With two albums to their name and dance-floor-shaking live performances, Ottawa-based indie-folk group the Dustbowl Daddies fuse lush alt-country harmonies with catchy indie-pop melodies, roots-rock jangle and stomp with poetic lyricism, and infectious ska/cowpunk energy with a joyful cooperative political spirit. In other words, what you might get if Mumford and Sons, Cake, the Strumbellas, Lucinda Williams, REM, Joe Strummer, The Specials, Woodie Guthrie, Joy Division, Tom Waits, and The Pogues threw a kitchen party.
At the heart of the band is the old-time, inclusive spirit of using music to bring people together and lift them up. Their two albums - The Longest Day of the Year (2015) and the upcoming Boom and Bust Economies of Love (2019) – are thus the result of years of collaborative writing and performing, the special live chemistry of the Little Bullhorn Studio, and the musical alchemy of producer, technical engineer/wizard and honorary Dustbowler, Dave Draves.
For the Daddies, the Dustbowl spirit is also about celebrating the fact that, despite all the suffering/injustice in the world, people still join together to do incredible, generous and beautiful things. As a small way of recognizing this, the band donates most of the proceeds from their shows and has raised more than $5000+ for some of the amazing charitable organizations doing work around Ottawa, including the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Ottawa Inner City Health, Families of Sisters of Spirit, and the Ottawa Food Bank.
Following the dictum that if one is good, two must obviously be better, the two Pauls (Paul ‘Hank Goodfellow’ Tyler and Paul ‘The Duke’ Saurette) first started writing songs together back in 2009 – before the band even existed – and have continued to share song writing, lead vocals, and rhythm guitar duties ever since (plus trumpet and accordion for Duke and mando for Hank). Rob ‘The Reverend’ Sparling soon joined them and now juggles banjo, harmonica, keys and backup vox without missing a beat. For much of the band’s life, Kevin ‘Buddy Thumper’ Grignon has kept the bass line moving while ‘Stumpy’ Lee Jacobs now wrangles cajon and percussion, as well as the odd mando and lead guitar line. The Daddies rock just a little harder when their other globetrotting members return home, with Mat ‘Fingers’ Patterson serving up jangling telecaster hooks and backup vocals and Chris ‘Black Lung Bobby’ Leite melding an impossibly sunny enthusiasm with a relentless working over of the drum kit.
Surprising facts: band members have also published almost a dozen books on topics as varied as climate change, humiliation, poetry, corruption, populism, car culture, political rhetoric/communications, 18th century philosophy, and international relations/political economy – and can often be found commenting on current affairs in the media. And while the band is based in Ottawa, its roots run far afield – with band members hailing from (and remaining deeply connected to) Ottawa, Vancouver Island, Winnipeg, Toronto, North Bay and northern England!
Finally, to everyone who has been apart of this journey: un grand remerciement for all your help raising this metaphorical barn. Couldn’t have done it – and wouldn’t have wanted to – without you!