Scan the press on soul-groove outfit Dirty Streets and you’ll see numerous references to rock, soul, and dirty-blooze touchstones like the Faces, Humble Pie, Otis Redding, CCR, and more. Spin Dirty Streets’ records and you’ll hear all of those echoes, plus others—some jazz timing, some acoustic balladry. But by and large, what you’ll hear is a raw, rowdy blend of Motown, Stax, and rock—the pure American
blood-beat moving through the heart of Memphis groove.
Austin-born Justin Toland (guitar/vocals) found his own musical food early through his father, a classic-rock aficionado who turned Justin on to the Stones, Creedence, soul music and the Stax sound. At 17 Toland moved to Memphis and met Thomas Storz (bass), a native of the city, through mutual friends; the pair found common musical ground and began playing groove-grounded rock with a series of temporary
drummers. Andrew Denham (drums), a Shreveport-born drummer and British hard-rock fan, joined up with Storz and Toland in 2007.
The trio began demoing using a basic setup: a single cassette recorder, no tracks, no real separation, just mics on the bass/drums and guitar and vocals live in the room. Without the option to isolate, tweak, or sweeten after the fact, Dirty Streets became accustomed to running through a take 40 or 50 times asthey worked to get it right, all the way through.
By the time they began gigging live, that level of discipline had honed Dirty Streets into an instinctual, responsive outfit. Bootleg recordings of their shows in and around Memphis helped to generate buzz, and established Dirty Streets’ rep as a band whose timing was as sharp as their sound was ragged.
Albums followed—Portrait of a Man (2009), Movements (2011), Blades of Grass (2013), White Horse (2015), Distractions (2018), and the live Rough and Tumble (2020), drawn from an in-house performance for the DittyTV streaming music service—all steeped in the raw rock-soul groove that serves as the band’s taproot, the musical core from which all of its explorations still proceed. And within that core, too, is the element that gives their music, the music they love and play, its unique character.
“Soul and blues music is about testifying,” says Toland. “To me, that’s great songwriting. When it’s good, it’s good because it’s true, because it’s authentic.”
20 WATT TOMBSTONE
20 WATT Tombstone are Wausau Wisconsin’s hard touring death blues saviors
They have played hundreds of shows over the past few years, and are now looking at embracing European shores this summer. Fusing the sounds of ZZ Top with Kyuss by way of Robert Johnson and Black Flag, the band has continually outdone themselves since their formation in 2011.
The band built their name on the road, but it was a split with Left Lane Cruiser that propelled them to the next level. Now they seek to grow upon all of this and bring the entire stoner rock scene to a new frontier.
This is the sort of band who remain devout to their community no matter the consequences. The stoner rock underground has allowed them to make a living from this, and they are determined to give back.
Frontman Tom Jordan is even stepping in as an organizer of Wisconsin Doomed & Stoned Festival. Their DIY aesthetic has impressed fans across the world, all of whom are eager to see the band’s next steps.
This dedication has paid off in other ways too and won the band endorsements from Gretsch Guitars, Saluda Cymbals, Scorpion Drum Sticks, Lava Cables, SIT Strings and Rock Relentless Clothing.
With a dedication to writing good music and spreading their message across the globe, 20 Watt Tombstone refuse to give in.
Fresh off their first European tour the intrepid duo continually pushes for opportunities to show the world what they are made of, be that crucial opening slots or driving 16 hours to play a dive bar.
Remember – this is a group who records everything live in the studio. There’s no room to mess around in 20 Watt Tombstone. Instead they are doubling down on their live magic and are eager to delve ever deeper into this scene.
With loud guitars and a passion for the music what could go wrong?
Cosmic Americana is often used to describe the jangly and ambient atmosphere of Railway Gamblers. Originating on the Southside of Chicago in March 2014, the group has strayed from the local norm of solely focusing on covering iconic artists and, instead, devoted their time to crafting their own resonant and original sound.
Brendan Folliard (singer, primary songwriter, rhythm guitar, harmonica, piano), Matt Fricks (lead guitar), Sean Wilmsen (drums), and the bass duo of Dan Kane and Joe Sexton make up the core of the group. With the guidance and expertise of top-tier recording engineers (Mike Hagler and Greg Calbi), their studio albums have received high praise from their United States fan bases and have also commanded the attention of international music media outlets. This has led to a consistently-increasing level of recognition and many sold-out shows across the Midwest.
From their influences rooted folk music to their incorporation of modern rock and roll, Railway Gamblers continue to generate a sound that may be difficult to identify as one solitary genre; but it’s one that is palatable, engaging, and honest.
Do you think we can keep this our little secret?
Francis Bartholomew Rabbitte, the son of a grifter (mother) and a gambler (father) from NOLA, and River “Bunny” Rabbitte, an army brat born in France and raised by an elderly au pair who taught her to “see beyond the veil,” are the heart and soul of wht.rbbt.obj (“White Rabbit Object”), a married/garage rock duo currently calling Chicago their home. A careful combination of sexy vocals, overdriven guitars, and expensive lingerie, drive their sound, but it is their love and trust that are the foundation for their creations. Francis & River invite you to follow them down the rabbit hole, to peek behind the curtain, and peer through the looking glass.
Their first studio single, “Jolene’s Reply,” received fantastic press highlighted by the NPR show Sound Opinions who described the song as “Roadhouse Raunch” and said it “Swings like a wrecking ball” and has the “dirtiest groove” they have heard in a long time. Francis & River have taken the success from their first single to the studio and are currently working on their first full length LP, “No Rainbows In Indiana.”
Recently Francis & River have taken wht.rbbt.obj to full touring strength by adding The Reverend, a dear friend, preacher and occasional purveyor of black market goods from Savannah, behind the kit to provide the word, the heat, and the beat. And to provide the screaming, pleading and crying leads, Francis & River reached out to Doc Bee, a former backwoods brawler and survivalist who once treated a particularly nasty wound Francis sustained on a rowdy night which they did not wish the attention of authorities.
Together, these four unlikely friends have come together, in the spirit of so many guitar bands before them, to rise up and once again save rock ‘n roll.