The Dirt Daubers came to be because the organizers of the Raindance film festival in London couldn’t afford airfare for the Legendary Shack Shakers. Colonel J.D. Wilkes is a member of both bands. “It started off as a side project with me and my wife [Jessica] singing around the house,” Wilkes says of the Dirt Daubers. He is in Rochester, NY, with his wife’s family for the holidays. Wilkes says he was headed to Raindance anyway to premiere a documentary he’d made, titled Seven Signs, and decided to take the booking as the Dirt Daubers, Southern slang for a type of wasp. The new band went over. “Les Claypool, the bass player in Primus, he said he liked it.” After which Wilkes made the Daubers (now a trio with bassist Mark Robertson) a permanent side project. “It’s 50/50. That way, I’m able to do everything I always wanted.”
Joshua “J.D.” Wilkes is a true Kentucky colonel, an honor that was bestowed on him by that state’s governor. Wilkes was raised in the holy-roller backwoods of Texas and Kentucky, and that’s the vigor he brings to both the Shakers and the Daubers — but in different wattages. His main thing is blues harmonica, but Wilkes can punch it out like a tatted-up Cab Calloway or reel it back for the acoustic trio. Either way, it’s quite the show.
Half of the Daubers’ material is covers. Chestnuts, Wilkes calls them, old things such as backwoods rags and hillbilly hollers, Harlem jazz, cowboy music, and honky-tonk. “My wife and I, we write the rest. And Jessica’s songs, the ones she sings, are getting popular.” He laughs. “I guess I created a monster.” The Daubers sometimes open for the Shakers. It’s a nice pay day, but even the Colonel admits that having both bands on the same bill is heavy lifting. “It’s one of those things. I gotta pace myself.”
Two Man Gentleman Band and Restavrant also perform.
THE DIRT DAUBERS: Soda Bar, Friday, January 13, 8:30 p.m. 619-255-7224. $8 advance; $10 day of sale.