IF YOU GO

What: The Dirty Bourbon River Show

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Historic Aztec Theater, 104 N. Main Ave., Aztec

Cost: Tickets are $12

More info: Tickets are available at Crash Music in Aztec and SNS Skate Shop in Farmington. A seat on a chartered bus is available for $5 to transport Durango-area ticket holders to and from the show. Call 505-427-6748 or go to crashmusicaztec.com.

 

AZTEC — It's all about getting people out of their chairs for a good time.

The Dirty Bourbon River Show -- self-described gypsy-brass-circus-funk-rockers from New Orleans -- aims to ignite the dance floor at the Aztec Theater Saturday.

Like the name suggests, the group consists of native New Orleanians and a few who, like the saying goes, came to visit the birthplace of jazz and never wanted to leave.

But leave they have, traveling around the country in their van to spread their infectuous, brass-based, hard-to-pin-down sound.

But don't expect a circus, per se.

"The whole circus thing comes from the fact that what we do takes a lot of wrangling," said Charles "Big Charlie" Skinner, who sings and plays trombone in the group. "I am a circus master, and a circus show bringing crazy clowns and lions and tigers all under one tent is what we do."

Non-stop touring can be gruelling -- like the time a thief broke into their van and stole an accordion, clothes and a GPS unit or their van's collision with a deer while driving through Colorado -- but it's the audiences that keep the group going.

"On the whole, we've been really lucky so far," Skinner said. "There's something incredible being able to play good music for good people."

Bryan Paul, a musician and the soundman at the Aztec Theater, promises a wild show.

"They bring the whole second-line, brass sound to the stage with high energy," he said.

Paul likens their sound to Gogol Bordello, a New York group that might be Dirty Bourbon's East Coast musical cousin. Both groups employ ample amounts of brass and hard-chugging rhythms with an attitude and style that defies easy categorization.

"We're a happy band if you're having a good time," Skinner said. "We truly believe that we're doing our job right if people get up and dance."

Since their start in 2009, the quintet has released seven studio albums and played more than 500 live shows, armed with as many as 15 instruments -- accordion, trumpet, sousaphone and "wind toys," to name a few.

Their latest album, "Volume Four," continues to delightfully confound, infusing each song with a harmony-rich, syncopated sound with lyric bravado and attitude to match.

With song titles like "Mama, I've Been Abducted by Creatures of an Unholy Sound!" and "Return of the Oompa Soca Man and the Orangutan Factory," listeners could be forgiven for thinking Parliament Funkadelic's George Clinton or theatrical soul howler Screamin' Jay Hawkins had penned the band's lyrics.

"We all come from very different backgrounds, bringing our different flavors together in one big stew pot of sound," Skinner said. "Music is the common denominator. All five of us grew up enmeshed in music -- classical, jazz, blues, metal, you name it -- and throw it all in."

The band draws from a wide swath of music and genres for inspiration, fed by equal helpings of Tom Jones and Tom Waits, Moondog and Michael Jackson, Django Reinhardt and Dr. John, Frank Zappa and Frank Sinatra.

Both Skinner's grandfather and father were active musicians, passing the musical torch down to him when he was growing up in the northern mountains of Georgia.

"I've been singing since forever," he said. "My dad was in a blues band and he and my grandpa sang in church. I sang a lot, too. No excuse not to."

Along with Noah Adams (vocals, piano, guitar, accordion and trumpet), Matt "Slyfox" Thomas (vocals, saxophones and clarinet), Jimmy Williams (bass and sousaphone) and Dane "Bootsy" Schindler (drums), Skinner believes it's the group's diverse approach and styles that keep their audiences satisfied.

"It doesn't have to look good or be pretty," Skinner said. "As long as the feeling's right and you're on your feet moving to the sound, you're in good company."

In recent years, the quintet has made it their mission to share their sound across the country, making themselves at home on stages at festivals, weddings, coffee houses, bars and thrift stores,

"We've played some wild places -- a homeless shelter, a wedding, you know," Skinner said. "One incredible place we played two nights was in Detroit, a frozen-in-time, Prohibition era jazz club we can't wait to get back to. Overall, we pride ourselves on being a full-time touring band, respectfully carrying the New Orleans tradition everywhere we go."

 

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.