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Sunday, February 26

Interview: Jed Nussbaum of The Dodgy Mountain Men

The Dodgy Mountain Men
Eric Bostrom on his Git
Jed Nussbaum on Mando an Electric guitar
Scott Howard an' a Bass
Clyde Netzley on the Tablas

I got a chance to speak with mandolin player, guitarist, and vocalist Jed Nussbaum about the future of The Dodgy Mountain Men last Friday. It turns out they have a lot on their schedule in the upcoming months, including an album and their largest national tour yet.
SM: So getting some background info in here for the readers, how long have you guys been together?

JN: Almost 2 years now, since April 2010.
SM: So before that, how were you personally involved in music?
JN: I did some solo stuff. I have been since I was a teenager, also I played with other bands, we all did.

SM: So jumping right in; how does the DMM create their songs?
JN: Bostrom(Eric) and I are the primary lyric writer's, but the band does put songs together, we work in unison forming different ideas.

SM: How do you approach your song writing.
JN: There are two ways. I've been writing songs since I was young, and where once I wrote from life experiences I tend now to write from a story-telling point of view. This is where the folk comes in. Eric also does the same, so you will see our songs being very personal or also they can be more traditional story based songs, the murder ballads such as “Hell Through a Bullet Hole” (penned by Nussbaum).   Also I don't see us as being heavy duty chops musicians, our focal point is the song writing. The rhythm is what brought us together and our folk songs come from lyrical ideas, and are very character based. With this approach you have to have a love of history. 

SM:So what kind of song would "Montana Storms" be?
JN:This song was written by Eric, I believe her wrote it on the road. It was when he got away from Montana for a while, we are very much a Montana band. So this would be based on life experience. Same with songs like "Mama Pray", and "Simple Man's Blues".

SM: How would you describe your music and it's growth?
JN: I feel like we have been making music that has a distinct movement in a specific direction. We have found that we fill a sonic niche that no one else is doing.

SM: So as a genre what would you call yourself?
JN: It's a lot easier to say what our music is not, as opposed to what it is. So where as others have pigeon-holed our sound as stomp-grass, I would say we are more of a folk band, that would be a good definition, but we're also a rock band, and we tend to jam out our songs, touching sometimes deeply on a form of dirty blues.

SM: So what does your tour schedule look like?
JN:We did go on a short tour to the Pacific Northwest last year. I do most of the bookings so I just setup a few dates for us and we go out on tour. This May we will head East to Kemton, PA for the Spring Blossom Bluegrass Festival and Bean Blossom, Indiana for the John Hartford Memorial Festival. We plan to book some shows throughout, in states such as WI, MN, IN, OH, PN. A sort-of mid-west tour.

SM: So there is an album in works, what are the details on that?
JN: The album will come out before the tour, we are still a very much do it yourself type of band, we recorded with someone we knew, the sound engineer at the Missoula Top Hat Lounge, Brandon Zimmer.  We're recording the basic rhythm tracks live in the studio, and then overdubbing solos and vocals.  Our methodology preserves the live feel, but is all done in the studio.   The album will officially be produced by us and Brandon Zimmer. Also it will be self-released, we haven't shopped for a label yet, haven't found a need to do so.

SM: So where will your albums be available?
JN: We will sell them at our shows. Really we have two goals, one to get our music out there and this is super important to us and two to hopefully make our money back. This would be a good start. It takes a lot of time and a lot of money to put together an album.

SM: What keeps you guys together, with a band there are some many different ideas and perspectives, so what keeps the DMM a cohesive unit.
JN: We all love playing music with each other and when we get on stage this feeling is always very reassuring.

SM: So as you continue to grow and tour will you be moving to a larger city like Portland, or Seattle like a lot of larger bands from Missoula have done?
JN: No, That is not likely at all. We are a Montana band and will be hopefully staying put and calling Montana home.

SM: Personally as a musician do you prefer the Guitar or the Mandolin?
JN: The guitar was my first love. But I feel most challenged by the mandolin, I am fairly new to this instrument and still learning all that I can do with it in a live setting. But truly my favorite instrument, is singing, or rather just performing all together.

SM: Do you feel like you feed off of the crowds energy?
JN: Yes, totally. But we also feed off of each others energy. A weak crowd can be a challenge, but winning them over and getting them into it is very energizing and it makes it more fun, and as I stated earlier we tend to feed off of each other.

SM: What bands have you opened for that you personally have enjoyed the most?
JN: The Devil Makes Three, and Hill Stomp. Both bands are very impressive and not only was I impressed by them,  but enjoyed them as a fan and a fellow musician.

You will be able to catch The Dodgy Mountain Men in Missoula on multiple upcoming shows, also at SpringBlossom Bluegrass Festival Friday, May 18 at Kempton Community Recreation Center, Kempton, PA, as well as The John Harford MemorialFestival in Bean Blossom, IN over Memorial Day Weekend.

Their Website and Facebook Page Links Here.

Interview: Sammy Martin
Photo: Kevin Kenly