Ali & The Dts
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Ali & The Dts

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
Band Blues Soul


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"Blues Explosion"

Hot Press, Nov. 2009

Blues Explosion

Having built up a solid reputation on the gigging circuit, blues outfit Ali & the DTs have just released their debut album. Harp player Christian Volkmann discusses the details of their unique sound with Colm O’Hare

They have been gigging around the Dublin blues scene for the past couple of years and now Ali & the DTs release their debut long player, Get the First Layer of Civilisation Off, which was recorded in Cavan last summer. Songs from the album, such as ‘Always the Fool’ and ‘Get the Devil Out Of My Head’ mark them out as a post-modern roots outfit blending classic R&B with more contemporary influences such as Beck and Alabama 3.

The Core of the Band is made up of Ali deMora(vocals), Gerry Power (guitars), Terry McGuinness (guitars and vocals), Christian Volkmann (blues harp, percussion and backing vocals), Salvatore Urbano (Piano) and Mick Power (drums). They are regularly joined onstage by other musicians for live gigs and recordings.
“We come from a background gigging blues standards – Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, early Rolling Stones, all that kind of stuff,” says harp player, Christian Volkmann. “ But we’re going into a more soul direction these days. We got in a couple of backing singers and a brass section – a bit like the Commitments in their heyday- although they were more of a show band. We do our own stuff mainly. And that would set us apart from a lot of blues bands.”
Originally known as Manalishi, after the Fleetwood Mac (Mark 1) song, ‘The Green Manalishi’, they morphed into Ali & the DTs when McGuinness joined. After a couple of years playing bars and blues clubs around Dublin they have since moved beyond the close-knit blues scene to encompass a much wider audience. They appeared at the recent Hard Working Class Heroes Festival and have dates coming up in Whelan’s and the Button Factory. According to Volkmann, moving from playing mainly covers to originals was a risk that paid off.
“When we played exclusively at blues gigs doing covers it was easy enough to find an audience. People would just walk in off the street and it’s usually for free and they’d be well up for it. With our own stuff, it’s a bit more interesting. We now have people coming to see us for our own songs. We actually have a following and they know a lot of the new songs already, which is nice”.
Volkmann, who hails from Hamburg, learned his musical chops growing up in the city, which was a Mecca for UK and American blues and rock players in the 1960s. “There still is a good rock and blues scene,” he says. “The Star Club where the Beatles played is still going strong. They have cool pictures on the wall and they have kept the 1960s décor intact. But there was a folk scene there in the 1980s and there’s a big hip-hop scene there right now and that was probably an influence on me as well.”
When he came to Ireland to live in Galway about 12 years ago he was exclusively a guitar player, as he explains. “ I was doing the typical, ‘German-bloke-singing-Bob-Dylan-songs’ on the streets of Galway. Then I met this guy who was a much better player than me, so I ditched the guitar and took up the harmonica and it’s my main instrument now.
“It’s not as simple to play as a lot of people might think,” he adds. “ When I heard the likes of Larry Adler playing with an orchestra, I thought it was incredible what he can do. On the other hand, when you sit down and work out simple melodies that can be the most effective. The main thing with me is to have intent, you just can’t keep blowing away with no direction.”
His influences are not just confined to blues players: “I listen to a lot of different players. Bob Dylan has a song on his very first record – I can’t remember what it’s called – it’s a freight train song. I’ve never heard him play the harmonica better on any other record since that one. Paul Butterfield would be my hero, check out The Last Waltz movie and watch him doing ‘Mystery Train’ which is the absolute pinnacle for me. He also plays ‘Mannish Boy’ with Muddy Waters in that movie. He only plays three notes on that clip but I spent weeks working out how he does it. Mick Kinsella from Ennis in my eyes is without question the best harmonica player in Ireland right now. He has the attack of Don Baker and his range is incredible.”
Given the classic rootsy sound, the members of the DTs not surprisingly keep things simple in the equipment and instrument department, as Volkmann explains. “The rhythm guitarist Terry plays a Fender Strat through a Fender Blues Deluxe amp. Gerry, the lead guitarist, has a sort of a custom guitar with a Telecaster body and some weird neck – he says it’s a piece of junk but it delivers a fantastic sound. He also uses a Fender Blues Deluxe amp. With the harmonica I use a Sure Bullet mic and that goes through a Fender Blues Deluxe too. We’ve three of them in the band but it’s more a coincidence – they’re a great amp.”
- HotPress

"Nick Cave-esque excitement from Fire-and-Brimstone Newcomers"

Ali & the DTs’ debut opens with a cacophony of sound: droning guitars, off-tune pianos and a rusty harp. Out of the chaos comes the booming, preacher-like delivery of singer Ali De Mora. It’s an epic opening worthy of the album that follows, which explores themes of pain, loneliness, loss and destruction.

Things crank up a gear with a menacing little number, ‘Pushing up the Daisies’ – reminiscent of The Doors, both vocally and musically. The DTs further illustrate their musical prowess on a laid-back instrumental entitled ‘Esprit de Corps’, which is soft respite between the darker depths of the record. ‘Voodoo Hoodoo’ is a crunching tune, which captures the rawer side of De Mora’s extraordinary voice, working perfectly off the somewhat distorted instruments

The project succeeds due to the sheer quality of the singing and playing. While primarily a blues record, First Layer Of Civilisation seems to draw influences from far and wide. De Mora, who’s voice is part Jim Morrison, part Nick Cave and part Blind Willie Johnson, is the star – but he’s backed by a super-tight band. Ali be praised: we have a new contender in our midst.


"Coming together"

Lots of hard work and no shortage of creativity are paying off for Ali & the DTs

All bands have to make sacrifices to achieve their goal. But for Ali & the DTs, that sacrifice is more radical than most.

"Over the last three years we played almost a hundred gigs a year," says frontman Ali DeMora. "But this year, because we've been promoting the band's original songs, we've stopped doing lots of blues gigs."

Sharing something of the roots sensibility of Soledad Brothers and Gomez, the DTs began working the circuit with a repertoire drawn from Canned Heat, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Howlin' Wolf, Pete Green and others. But given the wealth of talent in the band, the DTs wanted to push themselves creatively.

"Last summer we decided to write material for an original album," recalls DeMora. "We were playing about three times a week but it didn't leave us much time to write new material, so we cut down on the live gigs."

With a new repertoire arranged, the band moved to the country. "We recorded the album with a mobile studio in a log cabin in Cavan," says Ali. "It turned out alright."

You could say they must be doing something right when E Street Band's Miami Steve Van Zandt turned up to check them out. The garage king was in town with Bruce Springsteen when he heard about the DTs.

"He likes the album," says Ali. "He says he likes our stuff. 'Irish soul', he called it. We said, it's not black soul, it's green soul. We had a laugh."

People who turn out to see Ali & the DTs for the first time are often surprised to see some familiar faces. Most of the band are well-established musicians. Many also work in other line-ups.

"We all have different projects as well," says Ali. "The harmonica player Christian (Volkmann) is in the Sick & Indigent Song Club. Chris (Byrne), the bass-player, has been working with The Infomatics. Salvatore (Urbano) has a finger in many pies. He's the best piano player I've seen."

Apart from fronting the DTs, Ali also turns out for The Revellions.

Originally called Manalishi, after an old Fleetwood Mac song, the DTs came together when guitarist Terry McGuinness teamed up with Ali and guitarist Gerry Power.

"We've been attracting a crowd of diehards," says Ali, who first came to prominence in his father Peter Moore's band. Moore, a legendary blues shouter, turned up for the launch of the DTs album at the Button Factory.

"He supported us that night," says Ali. "He doesn't live in Dublin any more and isn't playing many gigs so a lot of people turned out especially to hear him. It was a great turn-out." – Eamon Carr

Get the First Layer of Civilisation Off by Ali & the DTs is out now - The Evening Herald

"NXNE - Day 2 and 3 review"

After Iggy we tried to see both the Huron/ Attack in Black show at the Horseshoe, and the Surfer Blood/ Les Savy Fav show at Wrongbar but both were to0 busy! Well, to tell the truth, we went to the Horseshoe, saw it was really busy, then decided to try Wrongbar instead. BAD plan. The we were lined up about ten feet from the door when they said there was actually no hope of getting in. Even Radio Laurier’s Priority Pass wasn’t enough to speed things up. Disappointment breifly overwhelmed us. It seems there was an ongoing issue of big bands in small venues, and we were the victims. Sigh. But we didn’t want to let this ruin our evening and it was only one in the morning so we decided to hit up our favorite venue, the Dakota Taven, for one last show.

And then Ali and the Dts totally blew us away! Their performance was energetic and their music was the perfect mix of nostalgic and totally new and exciting. The crowd went completely bonkers and we were finally where we needed to be. I really recommend checking them out! - Radio Laurier

"Alabama 3 review (support Ali & the DTs)"

REVIEW: Alabama 3 in Crawdaddy

By Diarmuid Sheehan • August 6, 2010

Review by: Diarmuid Sheehan

I had the pleasure of the company of the Alabama Three in Crawdaddy on Wednesday night. Promoting their new album Soul Revolver this was the first of two consecutive Dublin shows. The Alabama three usually perform with up to 7 band members, but for this acoustic set they striped down to a tight four piece which consisted of front man and lead vocals Larry Love, the excellent Rock Freebase on guitar, Harpo Strangelove on the harmonica and a true soul diva in Aurora Dawn on backing vocals.

To warm up the excited and almost impatient crowd were local blues and soul group Ali and the DT’s. A set of four excellent original songs delighted the half full room and really set the tone for a great night. I was extremely impressed by the energy and soul of all four band members. The singer Ali De Mora in particular was excellent, a voice not dissimilar to an early Caleb Followill. The only unfortunate note was guitarist Gerry Power broke a string early in their set and didn’t have a replacement…..a mistake I am sure he will not repeat. But all in all, a great set from the obviously talented Ali and the DT’s. If you get a chance to see them, do not hesitate!

The main attraction took to the stage to rapture of a applause from the loyal crowd, many of which I will imagine will make the trip to Leopardstown on Thursday to catch their next gig. Larry Love took the stage and proclaimed to the cavernous venue that tonight we were going to raise the dead before kicking into “Too Sick To Pray”. Throughout Larry played the classical front man role which is unusual for an acoustic set, riling up the crowd with snippets of his own thoughts on a broad range of subjects that included economics and drugs. Larry also insisted on introducing Rock Freebase’s guitar solos with a chorus of “Crawdaddy we got no drums and no base just Larry and Freebase” After delighting the crowd to a gritty acoustic rendition of “Woke Up This Morning”, Larry decided to eloquently declared that anybody in the room who was under twenty three was a direct result of an “Acid House F*ck”, which got a great cheer from all present! Running through further tunes such as “Lord Have Mercy”, and “You Don’t Dance to Techno” the latter being absolutely belted out by the thronging audience the gig came to an end.

Before the gig I had a chance to listen to a few Alabama Three tracks and read up about their history, but by no means was I a big fan. But being a big fan is not what the Alabama three are about. They enjoy entertaining. Whether you’re a life long fan or if you just came along with a mate who had a spare ticket, they won’t discriminate, they just want you to have fun, a refreshing concept. Their website proclaims “dress up real sexy and come party with us sometime, we’ll look after you”. While not dressed too sexily in all honestly, as it was only a Wednesday night, they really did look after their audience and nobody left unfulfilled. -


"Get The First layer of Civilisation off" LP released by Harry McDead Records 2009.
Track 6 "Voodoo Hoodoo" national airplay on Radio 1 Ireland.
National Airplay of Pushing up The Daises, Lord Oh Lord and Nancy Sin "Radio Nova Ireland" 2011.
National Airplay 98fm Ireland. Ardour & Down In the Bedroom 2010



Ali and the DTs may be a new name to many people but the various members of the band have all been perfecting their skills in other well-known bands for several years. The band is made up of Ali DeMora (vocals), Gerry Power (guitars), Carla Brunell (guitars and vocals), Christian Volkmann (blues harp, percussion and backing vocals), Terry McGuinness (bass), Adrian Errity (drums and percussion), Gina Moore (vocals) and Salvatore Urbano (piano).

‘Fire and brimstone excitement, a super-tight band. Ali’s voice is Jim Morrison, Nick Cave and Blind Willie Johnson: A new contender in our midst.’ Hot Press

Since releasing their critically acclaimed all-originals debut album ‘Get the First Layer of Civilisation Off’ in late 2009, Ali & the DTs have been a busy band. The CD was included in the Hot Press list of the ‘Best Irish Albums of 2009‘; radio appearances soon followed and airplay as far afield as Arizona. In Dublin they packed venues such as the Button Factory, Whelan’s, Sweeney’s, JJ Smyth’s, the Twisted Pepper and the Mercantile, while at the Village they supported soul legend Bettye LaVette and at Crawdaddy guested for the Alabama 3. Festival appearances included Hard Working Class Heroes, The Life Festival, The Castlebar Blues Festival, Knockanstockan, the Electric Picnic (where they stunned a capacity audience from the Salty Dog stage) and the inaugural Gateway Festival at Glendalough in Co. Wicklow.
But perhaps the most memorable entry in the bands diary was the week spent at the North by North-East Festival in Toronto, Canada, where they played legendary venue El Mocambo and were included in the online video of highlights of the festival.

‘Creativity, roots sensibility and a wealth of talent, they must be doing something right when E-Street Band’s Steve Van Zandt turned up to check them out and said he liked the album, calling it Irish soul.` Eamonn Carr, Evening Herald

The band describes their sound as a bit of blues and soul with a little rock and punk thrown in for good measure. Their influences are writ large on this album and they cite Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, BB King, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Peter Green and James Brown as some of their favourites. However you don’t have to listen hard to hear the impression that Tom Waits has had. Ali describes the mixture as “punk ass blues and soul”.

‘They got on stage and just blew the crowd away.
I think you’ll be hearing from them again, they’re packed jam-full of energy’
Niall Toner, Roots Freeway, RTE Radio 1

The DTs lost no time in kicking off 2011, with a half-hour interview and live performance on Radio Nova on 2nd January, and gigs at the Button Factory and elsewhere a few days later. They are well advanced in recording their second album and their next gig is St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Saturday 19th of March, in the Pint on Eden Quay.

‘What a voice! What a bunch of players!’ - Mike Moloney, Radio Nova 2/1/2011