The Dodgy Mountain Men, The Top Hat, Missoula, MT – 4/15
Photo by Blaine Dunkley of KBD Photography
Comprised of four diversely talented musicians who met through various gigs and concerts around Western Montana, The Dodgy Mountain Men have carved out a niche and a reputation for playing what some would call folk, bluegrass, Americana- or as they put it stompgrass. Comprised of Eric Bostrom on acoustic guitar and harp plus a real catchy musical instrument called a stomp box, Scott Howard on a resonator bass, Clyde Netzley on tablas and percussion, and Jed Nussbaum on mandolin and electric guitar, this quartet performed to a jam-packed crowd at The Top Hat lounge. Sharing stage slots this night with local blues band Black Mountain Moan, and Portland, Oregon’s Hillstomp.
Their set kicked off around 11pm and immediately went into what can only be called as a fast paced bluegrassy jam. This saw Nussbaum taking wickedly fast licks on his mandolin, moving up and down the neck of his instrument as Bostrom matched him throughout during a creative instrumental section that eventually melted into “Nature of Things.” This song, which is a crowd pleasing and danceable tune with Bostrom on vocals, really got the room moving as Nussbaum and Bostrom went back and forth with the mandolin and acoustic guitar, something that would occur throughout the show. Its mid-section was rocked out for a good length of time allowing the crowd to settle into a groove, and finally delivering a soft landing, that ended the powerful show-opening sequence.
Later on, they put together a very ear pleasing and upbeat version of “Down Home Girl,” a blues-based song which The Rolling Stones famously recorded (and a tune originally associated with The Coasters). The Dodgy Mountain Men version however was anything but blues, but rather rock and roll Americana with quick bass riffs by Howard and very and consistent yet enticing tabla-playing by Netzley. The rhythm section was holding it down and it was clear at this point that they were playing off the crowd’s energy as the room was packed with cheering and dancing fans. Nussbaum’s quick fingers and creative work on the mandolin was showcased throughout and powered a more grassy sound behind some songs such as “Hell Through A Bullet Hole,” on which he sang lead. The voices of Bostrom and Nussbaum though similar are distinct and added a diversity to the show, which was a pleasant touch. The band stopped the show momentarily to give away a bunch of free CDs to those lucky enough to move through the masses to the front of the stage before they ran out. Starting up again, Nussbaum then played electric guitar on multiple songs adding a very jamband feel to the show. One couldn’t help but picture Lewis and Clark traveling across uncharted territory as they played “Montana Storms,” a tale about escaping the cold of Winter in the high-country of Montana.
The night ended with a song called “Sleep When I’m Dead” which is pure Americana at its best with Nussbaum and Bostrom sharing vocals, while the catchy chorus had the crowd singing along (“Sleep when I’m Dead, Rest when I’m dying”). And even though their time on stage was limited this night, The Dodgy Mountain Men managed to put together a very smooth, rocking set of great music that in most ways is beyond one specific definition. After being together for over a year and playing multiple gigs across the state of Montana, The Dodgy Mountain Men look to the future where they can hopefully get into the recording studio, possibly this summer as well as take on a more extensive tour that would carry them and their infectious music across the Pacific Northwest and onward.