It’s not often that pond jumpers come out to play in Taos, so it’s worth seeing The Dunwells. And, if that isn’t enough, a wild band from Denver called James and the Devil rounds out the bill Friday (Sept. 7) at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. Music starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10 at the door.
The Dunwells have been making waves ever since March 2010 when their debut U.K. single, “Elizabeth,” hit No. 31 on the Independent Music chart the week it was released. James and the Devil, on the other hand, are just a state line away, but the group which has been described as “hip hop infused mountain rock with a fiddler” is not your run of the mill band.
The Dunwells includes a pair of brothers, a pair of cousins, and a best mate. The brothers are Joseph Dunwell (vocals, guitar) and David Dunwell (guitar, piano, banjo); the cousins are Jonny Lamb (vocals, drums) and Rob Clayton (bass); and their longtime best mate is Dave Hanson (guitar, pedal steel).
As a child, Joseph Dunwell, said he looked up to his brother David, who is six years his senior. David started seriously playing guitar at home at the age of 16, and the young Joseph would often pop into his room and sing harmonies, but it took him some time to pick up the guitar.
“We both started at 16,” Joseph said.
Both brothers made their way into Leed’s music scene on their own, before it was suggested that they partner up. They did, and soon joined forces with the other band members.
The Dunwells became known in the pubs and clubs of their home of Leeds, England. In October 2010, following the release of their debut EP, The Dunwells were named Artist of the Month by the Caffe Nero coffee chain — the British equivalent of Starbucks.
They played a 20-day, 40-show tour of Caffe Nero shops throughout England and Scotland, building their fan base and gaining the attention of influential music promoter BBC radio personality and singer-songwriter, Tony Moore.
In 2011, The Dunwells were brought to the 2011 International Folk Alliance. It was their first time in the United States, and they quickly turned heads, including that of Folk Alliance Director Louis Jay Meyers, who said on Voice of America radio, “Anyone that’s seen them has just been, ‘Oh my God!’ They’re mind boggling!’ ”
“It was kind of a dream come true,” said Joseph Dunwell. The band was flown back to the United States in June 2011. Joseph said he enjoys playing for American audiences. “They enjoy the music and really understand it. It’s fun to be playing for people who get us.”
It’s hard not to get the contagious beat and infectious lyrics of a song like “I Could Be A King” or the stirring melody and passionate vocals of “Blind-sighted Faith.”
Before they come to Taos, the Dunwells will appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “e-Town Hall” in Boulder, Colo. among other shows.
KTAO-FM 101.9 owner and Marketing Consultant Shannon Black says “We saw the Dunwells in Boulder. They are incredible. It’s going to be a great show.”
So, who is James? And, how about that devil?
These are obvious questions to ask. But, James and The Devil are not spilling the beans. “This question is inevitable because the name is a little unusual,” acknowledges drummer Matt Stoner. “In a way, that is why we went with it. People either like the name or hate it, and it’s for those reasons the name is hard to forget. Our name has sparked a lot of dialogue ... The bottom line is our name gets people talking before they even hear us play, and that’s okay with me.”
Mystique aside, one thing is certain, James and The Devil is Jim Campbell (acoustic guitar, vocals), Buz Crutchfield (auxiliary percussion, electric guitar, vocals), Adam Carpenter (bass, vocals), Dave Ross (fiddle) and Matt Stoner (drums).
“Each member of James and The Devil is influenced by different styles of music and therefore our music encompasses a wide variety of genres,” explained Stoner. “ ‘Hip-hop infused mountain rock with a fiddle’ is a phrase that was somehow thrown out there but I think it kind of describes that disposition.”
Campbell, inspired by quick-tongued rap artists, has recently tried his hand at some fast singing over the band’s music. Fast singing is an understatement – check out his tongue-twisting gymnastics by visiting www.jamesandthedevilmusic.com.
“You aren’t going to see a hip-hop show when you come to see James and the Devil, by any means,” clarifies Stoner. “but you will see Jim rap a little … and it’s pretty impressive.”
That’s an understatement, too.
Ross, the fiddler, was brought up in a family of bluegrass musicians and they been a major influence on him. “But, that doesn’t mean he won’t sometimes play his fiddle like a screaming electric guitar. He does,” asserts Stoner.
In fact, his fiddling can conjure up pictures of crossroads, which might be a dropped hint.
Hard rock and 1990s alternative music influenced Stoner, who reveled in listening to Metallica, AC/DC, and Pantera on one end of the spectrum, and Counting Crows, Dave Mathews, and Blues Traveler on the other.
James and the Devil released their first CD, “Altitude Sickness” in May 2011. They are now working on their second.
“With ‘Altitude Sickness’ we wanted to go for a raw, unproduced, and natural sounding album,” said Stoner. “On the upcoming CD we are using the tools of the studio, making a real production out of it, and working with a new engineer. The new songs are great and I’m really excited to get our new stuff out there.”
While James and the Devil have never played with The Dunwells before, they have heard their music.
“We are very excited to be playing with such a great band,” exclaimed Stoner. “We plan to throw an epic dance party. It’s going to be a ton of fun.”
For advance tickets or more information, call KTAO at (575) 758-5862 or visit www.ktao.com.