By JESSICA A. BOTELHO
For the last two years, Rhode Island based band Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch have been attracting flocks of fans throughout the Northeast. Last month, they celebrated the release of their new self-titled, twelve-track album at Bon Vue in Narragansett, R.I.
“We decided to do it at Bon Vue because it’s a fun place,” said Jeff Byrd, who plays guitar, harmonica, and sings. “We wanted it to be laid back and it was. We just played all night.”
Dana White, of Specialized Mastering in Boston, mastered the album. But, the band recorded and produced it themselves in Westwood Estates, a community center mobile home park in Coventry, Rhode Island.
“It was kind of a clubhouse and it had a pool table,” said Byrd. “There was no tension and no one was nervous. We just went in there with our equipment and took eight hours each day and recorded.”
Byrd said he enjoyed the recording process because they were completely in control. He felt as if they challenged themselves and were victorious.
“As much as it was work, there wasn’t anybody there to tell us what to do,” he said. “It was all on our shoulders and it really gelled us together as a band.”
Jeff Byrd and Dirty Finch is made up of bassist Shawn O’Brien, guitarist Dan Simpson, and drummer Steve DelTufo, all of whom sing backing vocals. DelTufo also said he is happy with the way the album turned out.
“We could still do it well while having fun,” he said. “My favorite song is ‘Waiting On the Sun.’ It’s laid back and it put the icing on the cake. I really love playing it live and seeing the reaction of the people. That’s what people really judge you on.”
Byrd said he likes all the songs for their own reasons, but is partial to “Waiting On the Sun,” and “Draggin’ Bones,” two songs he thought were “great to record.”
“‘Waiting on the Sun,’ came together quickly and naturally,” said Byrd. “I really like the tune of it.”
Both members said their music encompasses a lot of different styles and they don’t want to get too caught up in their sound. They fear that can limit them and they want the freedom to play whatever music they choose.
“I want to be able to do a metal song if I want to,” Byrd said. “But, I’ve also been a Beatles’ fan forever and they are in everything I do.”
DelTufo agreed, as he grew up on rock music and is heavily influenced by artists from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to Motley Crue and Guns ‘N’ Roses. He said it’s important for them to be opened minded to many different types of music so they don’t marginalize themselves.
“I used to really love metal and I still do, but you have to take from everything to be original,” DelTufo said. “I try to find the good in all music.”
However, while they don’t care much for labels, they also know there are a few benefits of attaching a genre to their music. In fact, Byrd said they are noticing the positive repercussions of listing them as a country band online.
“We’re more alt-country, but after I listed us as country, we had four or five new requests in a few hours,” said Byrd. “One fan even congratulated us for being on Reverbnation’s number one Hot Country list. It was kind of funny. I was like, ‘What?’ It’s bizarre and it’s weird in my head, but it’s cool.”
Byrd is grateful he chose a category because more people are finding out about the band. It surprised him at first, but he is thrilled country lovers like their CD.
“I just want to be like, ‘here it is,’” Byrd said. “If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, you don’t. We were on iTunes and it’s funny because the classification of our band fits into Americana/alt-country. I had a conversation with the guys a few weeks ago and we realized we were a mix of country and rock. We’re somewhere in between.”
Right now, the band is in the middle of a mini-tour. They are gigging throughout Rhode Island, the Boston area, and New York City.
“We booked a bunch of shows,” Byrd said. “We’re going to be playing at National Underground in New York City. We played there before and we’re looking forward to it. Actually, the less we plan, the more stuff happens for us. It’s been a lot easier lately. We’re making a lot of contacts with musicians and radio stations.”
DelTufo agreed, saying he enjoys taking things one day at a time.
“We try not to predict the future,” said DelTufo. “It seems to be working out for us.”
Their current album is available on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon.com. Byrd said they have already started to write songs for another recording session, as their band is starting to take flight.
“It’s growing and it’s doing it’s own thing,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot more to come.”