Spotlight Band: The Dusty 45s
The Dusty 45s are:
Jerry Battista – guitar/vocals
Billy Joe Huels – Lead vocals/trumpet/guitar
Kelly Van Camp: Drums/harmonica/vocals
Jeff Gray: Upright bass/vocals
By: Sally Feller
I first encountered The Dusty 45s at a brewery in Nantucket, amidst dancing children and happy locals tipsy on good beer. When the bartender told me these guys were good, I wasn’t sure what to expect: “I mean, are they actually good? Or are they just good in a my-friend’s-band-is-totally-dope way? The guy knew what he was talking about. These guys took the “stage” and blew me away with their rockabilly style and high-energy, yet still low-key spirit. This rockabilly in the original sense and a bit less of the Brian Setzer genre, if you will, minus the hair—which is similar to pretty much every rockabilly act you can imagine which, if you’re like me, is about three bands.
The Dusty 45s played at a local joint near my place called Midway Café recently and I was excited to see them in an entirely different atmosphere than the chill brewery. There was a pretty small turnout for the show, which I found unsurprising—you see, rockabilly isn’t that popular. It’s even less popular in Boston, land of the young, emo indie-rockers, than in the rest of the country. Top that off with an out-of-the-way venue in a pretty seedy club and you can get where I’m going with this. Despite the small crowd, there was a universal energy that anchored us to the floor, stopping us from sitting in the corner to watch without participating.
There were swing dancing lessons pre-show, to start off a night with several rockabilly, swing, jazz bands that were playing that evening…the lessons seemed to have made everyone feel like they were part of the scene. Even though I arrived after the lessons had ended, I could sense the confident, friendly atmosphere the second I walked through the door. That sense is what makes bands like The Dusty 45s work. Their genuine love for the music they play resonates with the audience and they feel a part of the show. You can tell the guys feed off the energy of the crowd, recycling their spirit into a concentrated cocktail of rockabilly extract.
Obviously, with all that stated, it’s easy to see why their live shows work so well and with such a dynamic sensibility. The disconnect, for me, comes in with the studio recordings. The studio setting seemed to have iced and watered down that rockabilly cocktail and flatted it into a bit of a stale sound reminiscent of Chris Isaak’s vocals, but with decidedly less bluesy-adornment involved.
In other words, you really need to see The Dusty 45s live if you want the full effect of this great, vibrant group, but if you seriously can’t get your asses to a show, at least check out “The Dusty 45s Live” and “Fortunate Man” for a taste of something decidedly different.
Catch The Dusty 45s on tour:
October 13: The Rhythm Room in Phoenix, AZ
October 14: Rialto Theatre in Tucson, AZ
October 15: Sundance’s Place in Prescott, AZ
October 16: Joxer Daly in Culver City, CA
October 17: Doll Hut in Anaheim, CA
October 20: Redwood Bar in Los Angeles, CA
October 23: PRIVATE EVENT in Palm Springs, CA
October 24: Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, CA
October 26: The Verdi Club in San Francisco, CA