After a day at the Historic Dockyard Festival of Christmas, what could be better than a nice lazy Sunday afternoon in a pub? The Admiral Drake was warm, the fire was crackling and the place was full of boisterous lads and lasses. Well, it could be better, and it was. I’d gone along to watch Dirty Diesel Outlaw Orchestra for some good old-fashioned Southern rock to warm the bones on a rather cold winters day.
They opened with ‘Burn the House’. This heavy little number had my little bat ears pricking up almost instantly. Little did I know that the whole repertoire would have the same effect and I’d be hooked. Their palette is large and their capacity to switch in-between the fast paced heavy rock and slower, more sassy blues is just awesome. Paul ‘The Man with the Harp’ holds the front well with vocals and harmonica, but vocals switch between him and Rocker Dave who as well as playing a mean guitar, has his own style; giving some awesome variation between the two. There’s also an interesting contrast in the loud and heavy sound from Dave and Ryan ‘the Bootstrap Sheikh’ on drums, with the old school plucking of Alex Barter on Double bass, along with Mr Welch on banjo and boy, can they play! They could have been drowned out but they’re fierce, they hold their own and the complete sound is glorious.
Their music is good, real good. Songs like ‘Whisky Drinking Liar’ soaked so deeply into me that I found myself humming it for days after. Such a tenacious genre could be enjoyed at most levels but the thing is, these guys do it well. Every song is strong enough to stand alone, but together as a collection it’s a really impressive display of musical talent and it’s just so fun. They clearly love making music and their attitude is infectious. They’re a full package complete with banter and stories leading into songs. “Too much Willy Nelson, not enough Johnny Cash”.
I’d been meaning to catch up with these boys sooner and when as I saw them live, I wished I had. They are just so charged. They give that warm feeling deep inside the belly, equivalent of sipping a good whisky, or a dirty, dirty moonshine. The Drake was a good setting, the bare floorboards and the easy going atmosphere felt like it could be their natural habitat.
They went down a storm and everyone couldn’t help toe tapping, thigh slapping and wildly whooping, even round the other side of the L Shaped bar, out of eyesight but absolutely in earshot.
With songs like ‘Chicken Bones’ and ‘Voodoo Queen’, you’d be forgiven for thinking we had been transported somewhere else. No, we’re not in Tennessee, and we’re not in New Orleans either. We’re in Portsmouth and it’s just fine. I’m a huge fan of the music scene here. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a glorious variety of musicians producing wonderful sound, and event organisers that work tirelessly to keep them playing live. Dirty Diesel Outlaw Orchestra are a fantastic addition to the musical family and they’re a little different but that’s what makes them brilliant. Variety is the spice of life and personally, I like it hot.
I can’t urge you enough to catch them playing next at the Portsmouth Beer Festival on 17th December. I’ll be there, my curiosity has taken over and I’m seeking them out for an interview to get to know them a little better. I expect it’ll be noisy, and very, very fun.
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📷 by Rosalie Allen