Local band Dirt Road Addiction hasn’t been playing together quite a year yet, but they are gaining a following with their high octane country rock, “bring the party to you,” flavor.
The band members range in age from 14 to 49 and comprise a wide variety of musical and vocal talents.
Clay Clear at 14 is the lead guitar, Kevin Ditzfeld plays acoustic, Mike Adams the electric guitar, Sam Schleicher drums, Tommy Hulse bass and J.R. Kenyon sings lead.
“We kind of all met up when we started going to Jam Night out at Dukes and Boots, when they started doing jam nights out there and kind of mixed it up a little bit,” Schleicher said. “That’s how I met these guys. I know Mike and J.R. and Kevin all played together prior to that. And then Clay and I met up with those guys. And as far as bass players we’ve kind of had a revolving door, so Tommy is relatively new.
“We bill ourselves as playing contemporary country music with country hits,” he added.
Ditzfeld said that even if listeners aren’t familiar with country hits, the music is easily recognized because “your folks probably listened to them.”
“But at the same time I think we’re some of the only ones out there that are playing Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and contemporary hits that you hear on the radio,” Ditzfeld added. “That’s sort of our bread and butter.”
“We’ve gotten calls from some of the other bars around town, so we’re hoping to play a few more places in the future,” Schleicher said.
“This was all by accident,” Adams said. “We all got to playing together, but (Schleicher) had more designs as possibly playing as a band than probably we did.”
At this point the group isn’t writing any original pieces but want to play for their audiences.
“Exactly what we’re doing right now is playing what people like, the best that we can,” added Adams. “That’s always been my agenda is to play what the people like. Because many times I’ve seen people not doing that and not getting the crowd involved. And we wanted to be a group that gets the crowd involved.”
“I don’t think we’re really looking at getting famous or too big, but we want to bring the party, and we do,” Schleicher said.
“We want our audience to have as much fun, if not more fun, than what we’re having,” added Ditzfeld.
“That was another one of our motto’s or mission statement it says we’re going to have fun doing this,” said Adams.
“When we get together for practices, we sit down and say what do people want to hear?” Schleicher said. “What can we play that the crowd will enjoy? What will get people up and dancing, what will get them involved? It’s not necessarily stuff we want to play.”
“It’s not always stuff that we necessarily like individually,” Adams added. “But as a group we want to play it to appeal to the people. Kevin, he’s the one that’s always able to figure out what the next new song is.”
“He’s Nostradamus,” said Schleicher, laughing.
“He picks them and try to get them early if we can,” Adams added.
“He’ll pick a song and nobody’s even heard of it,” said David Clear, Clay’s father.
Ditzfeld will suggest a song he thinks will hit the top of the charts, the group will practice it and soon it becomes popular, the group said.
“They’ll practice it and play it, and play it two or more shows before anyone else even hears it on the radio,” David said. “Then the next thing you know, we were playing this song a month ago, and it’s the No. 3 hit.”
“He’s just ahead of the curve,” Schleicher said. “He’ll get music and sometimes we’ll go ‘nah,’ but the next thing you know it’s charting.”
“Anytime we go out and play it, even at a Jam Night, and we get a good crowd response that seals the deal right there,” Schleicher said.
“That goes on the set-list,” added Adams.
“That’s what’s satisfying, we sing and everybody yells and are having an absolute blast,” Schleicher said. “We love to see people cut loose, have a good time.”
Adams said it’s not just the group that’s involved with the crowd, but they have many people working behind the scenes to make things happen.
“We have a phenomenal support system,” both Schleicher and Adams said, noting the group’s wives, friends, moms and neighbors help support them by word of mouth, designing fliers and by bringing crowds of people to performances.
“I don’t see everybody with that advantage,” added Adams.
The group originally had the goal of learning at least 20 songs, but at present they have 60 to 70 songs on a rotating list they play for gigs. And they do take requests.
“We’re playing for the crowd,” Schleicher said.
“And if we can’t play that particular song, we’ll play something similar,” Adams added.
Clear said at one point they learned 30 songs in one week.
“That kind of set it up,” he added.
“Clay’s been playing forever and can outplay all of us,” Schleicher said of the 14-year-old.
Clear, an old soul, not only plays lead guitar but can play the violin, accordion, bass and drums.
“To me Jam Nights have been good for learning new songs, just like that,” he said. “You don’t have make it sound just like the record, but if it sounds decent people will like it.”
And how do some of the guys that have a rock background become involved with a country band?
“The new country is the old rock,” Adams, a fan of 1980s rock, said.
“When we go out and play and we’re playing songs people are familiar with, older classic hits, we play them with a lot more vibe to them,” Schleicher said. “We play our songs noticeably heavier.”
“I like to think that if you come out to one of our shows Friday night, you’re going to feel it Saturday morning,” added Ditzfeld.
Some of the songs they are known for playing are “Fishin’ in the Dark,” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “Margaritaville,” by Jimmie Buffett, “Boys Around Here,” by Blake Shelton, and “Copperhead Road,” by Steve Earle.
“When we play it, it does not sound like any other band playing it around here,” Schleicher said of “Copperhead Road.”
“Nobody covers it like we do,” added Adams.
“It’s like Ozzie Osborn and Steve Earle are jamming out together,” Ditzfeld said.
Schleicher said the group wants to keep playing once or twice a month so when people come out it’s an “occasion” for them.
“Ideally we want to expand a little bit and start playing at some of the bars in the surrounding area,” he added. “And I think that’s very likely.”
The group will be playing at 8:30 p.m. March 21 at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que and at Ace’s, in Tipton, April 4.
For additional information on Dirt Road Addiction friend them on Facebook or go to youtube.com/DRABandVideos.