Donnelly: Dumptruck Butterlips at the Jackpot Saloon, January 7, 2011


OK, let’s do a little mind experiment. First, think of any kind of conveyance… Got it? 
Now, think of a condiment/ topping you would put on food.  
Finally, think of a part of the human body. Put them all together and what did you come up with? Mine is Rickshaw Salsagroin. So that’s what we’ll call our band, Rickshaw Salsagroin. Pretty catchy, eh? I can see it now: “Did you catch that Salsagroin show last week? It was epic!” 
I’m assuming this is exactly how the Lawrence based folk/soul/grass outfit Dumptruck Butterlips decided on their weird-ass moniker. 
But, I guess it doesn’t really matter what you call yourselves when you have three young gypsie-girls dressed in tights and lingerie, occasionally hula hooping and providing decent backing vocals.  One of the gypsies played stand up bass, one squeezed an accordian, and one scraped away on an old washboard, as Butterlips rolled through their set.  The only thing missing from the stage show was a monkey and maybe some fire.
Butterlips’ songs are of the simple variety, with root-note bass lines, boom chick rhythms, and plenty of feeling.  The diverse crowd of pseudo-hipsters, band members’ parents, and semi-normal folks (like me, right?) all felt right at home listening to the upbeat tunes and loving harmonies wafting out through the tinny Jackpot sound system.
Lead singer and frontman, Chad Smith (aka Mr. Mustard), played acoustic guitar while stretching his versatile vocals from yell-y bluegrass to straight up soul.  Most effective were the soul numbers, where Smith was able to really show off his chops, which brought to mind Ben Harper in his heyday.
In fact, Mr. Mustard pretty much carried the show and was definitely the most talented and interesting (musically) aspect of Butterlips on this night.  Combining nicely to the overall sound was accordion player, Ashley Zeigenbein, who provided a fullness and body with her tasteful squeeze chords, and decent backing vocals.
At times Dumptruck Butterlips brought to mind the wierd circus/southern revival/traveling roadshow vibe of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, though with about a dozen less band members on stage.  And much tighter clothing.  
Did Dumptruck Butterlips blow me away?  No.  Were they interesting enough to want to see again?  I would say yes.  And oh yeah, their "look" certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Also, bear in mind this band has only been together since the summer of 2010, with a performance at Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Festival already under their lacey, homemade belts. 
I look for this band to continue tightening its sound by gigging around the very bluegrass-friendly Lawrence and summertime festy scene.  I’d love to see what the addition of a mando or banjo could do.  
An unexpected bonus of the night was opener Bayley Kate Hartman, playing only their third show.  Unfortunately, some sound issues kept the small crowd on hand from really getting the best of this band, but it was obvious that lead singer Bayley Kate has a strong voice.  She reminded me a little bit of the Recipe‘s female vocalist circa 2002, with maybe a hint of Stevie Nicks.  Although I was a little confused by their inclusion of a drummer (seemed unnecessary to me) I’ll keep an eye out for these newcomers to the local scene.
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One Response to Donnelly: Dumptruck Butterlips at the Jackpot Saloon, January 7, 2011

  1. Jamie Seed says:

    Man, Dumptruck Butterlips blows me away every time I see them! I agree that Mustard is the best of the group, his songwriting and vocal skills are world class, but Ziggy and Surka are both crazy talented in their own way and Megan’s a perfect bass compliment to the unplugged sound of this band. Great review, but I think you kind of undersold the package of talent these kids have up their sleeves! I see Dumptruck Butterlips becoming a MUCH bigger name in 2012. Mark my words!! After this festival season they will be packing houses. 🙂 Bet.

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