The County Reeves
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The County Reeves

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE

Calgary, Alberta, Canada | INDIE
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“Our goal is pretty simple,” asserts Rick Overwater, guitarist-vocalist for Calgary via Mountain View County (Rocky Mountain foothills) rockers Black Dirt of the West. “Make the kind of records that we hunt around (for) ourselves, play gigs with bands we dig, not lose every dime we have in the process and not get divorced. The rest is gravy.”

As any self-respecting rock ’n' roller will tell you, such a mission statement is nothing but pure genius. After years of toil, turmoil and trashed bank accounts, most bands implode under the duress of trying to, “Make it, man.” Even the few that do are so heavily battered and bruised their persona is rarely a true representation of what's behind the scenes.

Black Dirt of the West might be just a touch older than the latest Justin Bieber single, but with the quartet’s collective history extending back to a time when the four original Ramones were still talking (let alone inventing a new musical subgenre), these independent rock veterans have spent more than their fair share of time in this country's seediest watering holes. Of course, back then they were pushing former endeavours such as Agriculture Club, The Mad Bomber Society, The Smokin' 45s, The Rowdymen and Slow Talking Water.

Still, the mature grace and cunning wisdom gleaned from those years gives Overwater, drummer-vocalist Lorne Petersen, guitarist-vocalist Shane Roberts and bassist Smooth Bomber a distinct edge on their latest venture, an eponymous two-song 7-inch courtesy of Transistor 66 Records.

Overwater reveals that despite featuring some of Alberta's most revered underground talent, Black Dirt’s formation was incredibly rudimentary. The group came together out of the mutual need to sweat, scream and slay some audiences with unbridled country-tinged punk rock ’n' roll.

“(Petersen and I) got talking and he was like me: left the farm to get a degree, got involved with campus radio, started hanging out in the kind of bars that booked bands like The Smalls et cetera. (We) got in a band and then boom!” he says.

“One day you’re back in the sticks going, 'What the fuck do I do now?'” he continues. “It’s a superior place to live, but not so great to be a quasi-punk rock band in. We were both wanting to be in a fairly loud and raw band, only playing original music and, as much as parenthood allows, tour clubs, have cool merch…. All that indie band shit.”

Eventually picking up Roberts and Bomber after jamming out some dusted-off self-penned ditties, Black Dirt was finalized, with two tracks — “I Hit the Road” and “Son of a Bullfighter’s Ghost” — committed to tape.

Overwater feels these tunes are a strong representation of the group’s primal instincts and enviable abilities. Still, he notes, it’s an amalgamation of such diverse acts as punk-metal purveyors Motorhead, Nine Pound Hammer, Fu Manchu and Turbo ACs, paired with twang-influenced composer Ennio Morricone and surf fiends Los Straightjackets.

“We’re what people from outside Alberta naturally assume would come from (the area), but there’s really not much out here in the way of heavy hybrids,” he shrugs. “These days, though, it’s not as lonely as it was. There’s been 10 more years of Grady, Nashville Pussy and White Cowbell Oklahoma coming through, so the ground has been softened up somewhat. We also have some kindred spirits in the rockabilly scene, but the gigs tend to be ill-matched unless they lean to the louder, more evil end of the spectrum — like The Matadors.”

Regardless, despite being somewhat “elder statesmen” of Alberta's hard, twangy scene, thanks to the freedom of his relative anonymity — along with his wealth of experience, scars and familial obligations — Overwater feels that Black Dirt is easily his favourite project to date.

“Largely, no one knows who we are,” he admits bluntly. “So we’re free to do what we want. We’ve been around enough to know that there’s a niche group of people looking for the kind of music we make; it’s just a matter of getting in front of them. There’s something truly liberating about finally realizing you're never going to 'make the big time' as a musician. That’s when you say 'fuck it' and just do whatever you want. Chances are, your music will be better for it."
- Hustler Magazine (Canadian edition)/FFWD magazine (reprint) - Keith Carman


Gig Picks

The Week Ahead In Can't-Miss Concerts

CALGARY HERALD NOVEMBER 30, 2010


Homegrown

Black Dirt Of The West, Thursday At Broken City - Mashing up his greatest influences, from Johnny Cash to Motorhead to D.O.A., rocker Rick Overwater -- who lovers of the local scene will know well from Agriculture Club and The Culls -- has come back swinging harder than ever with his new band Black Dirt of the West. The group officially releases it's stormin' new 7-inch this week at Broken City with guests Cripple Creek Fairies and Gunther opening.

Emo

Silverstein And The Devil Wears Prada, Thursday At Macewan Ballroom - Get ready for a night of heavy emo and metalcore as The Winterizer 2010 Tour comes to the U of C on Thursday night, presented in association with Exclaim magazine and Rock star Energy Drink. Topping the bill is Silverstein from Burlington, Ont., currently touring in support of their latest album A Shipwreck In The Sand.

Metal

Gwar, Thursday At MacEwan Hall - Wreaking mock havoc on the Earth in support of their latest album, Gwar's Bloody Pit of Horror, ghoulish shock metal clown show Gwar are back in Calgary, promising "acts of violence, bestiality and political incorrectness." How can such an evening miss?

Roots Rock

The Schomberg Fair, Friday At The Distillery - One critic described the raucous sounds of Toronto roots-rock trio The Schomberg Fair as "speed gospel" and, listening to their album Gospel, that's pretty bang on. The band will be sharing the stage at The Distillery with the always entertaining and over-the-top raunchy White Cowbell Oklahoma.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald



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Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Picks/3902919/story.html#ixzz1Fw6mBgom - Calgary Herald


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Feb. 09, 2011 - Issue #799 : Valentines Style Share |

PREVUE
Black Dirt of the West
Fri, Feb 11, DV8

Bryan Birtles / bryan@vueweekly.com
| 0 COMMENTS AND 1 REACTION | COMMENTS POLICY

» Finely aged Black Dirt
A testament to the idea that being a grown up doesn't have to mean being in your pajamas at eight and watching a rerun of Two and a Half Men before tucking into bed before 10, Black Dirt of the West is a band that doesn't so much refuse to grow up, but seeks to change what the definition of growing up is.

Singer and guitarist Rick Overwater has long been used to doing things differently. His former band, the well-known cow-punkers Agriculture Club, defined guerilla touring all over Western Canada, with jaunts that would begin on a Friday after work and not end until the band's members were back at the office on Monday morning, haggard from the marathon drives made necessary by life on the Prairies. Overwater has transferred that get-up-and-go spirit into his new band.

"There were a lot of times where I didn't miss a day of work but I toured all of Western Canada in a month and a half. I'd get on a plane after work to play New Music West in Vancouver and then get on another plane at four in the morning and be back at work the next day," Overwater explains. "I'm of the belief that you can have a balanced life in this day and age where you release good music—because you can do it cheaply and easily now digitally—and tour sporadically. I've developed this model that allows me to be a permanent musician on a part-time basis."

The part-time nature of the band's existence is about to get a shot in the arm, however, as Black Dirt of the West celebrates the release of its first seven-inch with a round of touring sure to piss off a few bosses and leave some frustrated spouses in its wake. The seven-inch was originally slated to be a full-length, but when it became clear that a lack of money would hamper the band's ability to finish it, Black Dirt decided to just go ahead and put the two songs it had already recorded onto vinyl. It's been a good decision, explains Overwater, because not only does the seven-inch encapsulate the band's dual nature in its dirty rock A-side and it's warbly, cow-punk B-side, it also lets some of the vinyl heads in the band see their name on a slab of wax.

"A couple of the guys are 100 percent vinyl enthusiasts. Scoop, our bass player, his turntable is worth more than any one of the last five vehicles I've owned," laughs Overwater. "It kind of worked out pretty good that the two songs we recorded first, it's almost a fluke because it does cover the spectrum of our sound. If I had to say which way we're skewed to we're skewed more to the rock side, but we do have that spectrum."

Overwater never wanted growing up—or getting married, or having kids—to be the end of something good. It might be the end of youth—that's inevitable—but it doesn't need to be the end of fun.
"My approach now is a bit more focused, but they're just the same things I've always had to do and not be the kind of artist that hangs it up. I think that's a sad thing; I think your children need to see that adulthood does not fucking suck and become un-fun," he says, but jokes, "Hopefully we don't dwell on the fatherhood thing too much—that's pretty un-rock 'n' roll."

Fri, Feb 11 (9 pm)
With Hellpreacher
DV8 - VUE Magazine


Outstanding In Their Field
Black Dirt of the West live outside of the urban centres, but rock when they make the trek.
Published February 10, 2011 by Robin Schroffel in Music Preview

Supplied

There’s an old saying: You can take the boy out of the country … or can you? In the case of Black Dirt of the West frontman Rick Overwater, there was so much country left in the boy that he packed up his buzzing, established city life and headed back to the rural Alberta locale he’d grown up in.

So much for rock ’n’ roll, right? Wrong. Overwater, a longtime musician and veteran of bands including the Agriculture Club soon discovered that Lorne Petersen, a drummer with a similar background to his, was living just down the road. The pair recruited a second guitarist, Shane Roberts, and a bassist, former Edmontonian Smooth Bomber, and thus the rough ’n’ tumble, raucous country-metal hybrid Black Dirt of the West was born.

“The country is the perfect place for a rock band because you can actually blaze. There’s no one to bother you,” Overwater says over the line from his Olds-area acreage.

But rural Alberta is more than a place to play loud music, explains the father of two who rode the school
bus in the ’70s with the kids who used to lived in the house he now owns.

“I grew up in the country and I just like space around me. The city is where all the action is which is why it’s awesome to have a rock band again. We make guerilla strikes on the city regularly; we go to the city, the good clubs and the cool kids and all the fun shit like that, rock ’n’ roll, we go there and get our fill of that and then we can kind of retreat back to peace and quiet if we want some tranquility,” Overwater says.

“When you’re raising kids and all that stuff, it’s nice to have that space around you. And I mostly just find it better for the muse. I hate to use that word, it’s a lame word, but I’m a lot more creative out here. I spend a lot more time writing and creating stuff than I did in the city. I’m less distracted. It’s been really good for my music,” he explains.

Being located between the two rival cities of Alberta has also proved to be an advantage in some ways: Black Dirt of the West gets easy access to the music scenes of both.

“I love Calgary but I’ve kicked around that scene for a long time. Because I haven’t had a band with a record out, I haven’t been touring in a while so we’ve just been playing local shows all the time. Some guys like that but I’ve been used to never playing the same town two times in a row, hardly, you know? I’m just ready to go play somewhere else and I love the Edmonton music scene,” says Overwater.

Black Dirt of the West’s debut 7” is out now on Winnipeg’s Transistor 66 record label.



Black Dirt of the West
With Hellpreacher
DV8 (8307-99th St.)
Friday, Feb. 11, 8 p.m.
- See Magazine


You can call Rick Overwater a hick — just don’t call him a redneck.

“I hate rednecks as much as the next guy,” says the singer and guitarist for country tinged, punk-infused metalheads, Black Dirt of the West.

“Sometimes people will use the word ‘redneck’ to describe us, and I hate that. I don’t mind being called a hick or a farm boy, but to me a redneck is somebody with a rural or blue-collar background, but also with racist and homophobic issues. We’ve got none of that.”

Well, Overwater does have the rural background. Raised on a farm near Didsbury, Overwater grew up listening to country music, but turned his back on the genre as a teenager in favour of the ‘vile’ sounds of heavy metal and punk.

“When I went to college, that’s when I got exposed to more music,” he says.

“I was into metal, but then I learned from bands like D.O.A. and The Vandals that you could make hard music that wasn’t bloated and jammed with guitar solos, but could still have all that aggression.”

Though he’d rejected country music in his teen years, Overwater began listening to old-school greats such as Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard and started thinking about forming a band that would blend all of his influences together.

“This is before I discovered bands like Nine Pound Hammer and The Supersuckers,” he says.

“Everyone thinks they’re influences but I discovered them after it was in line with what I was thinking.”

After the moderately successful local country-punk band, Agriculture Club ‘imploded with a whimper’ a few years back, Overwater moved back to the country with his wife, taking over a farmhouse near Olds.

“When I moved to the country I got really prolific,” he says. “I would look out the window and see something and write a song about it.”

It just so happened drummer Lorne Petersen lived up the road from him and the two started jamming. The pair went through several guitarists and bass players (one musician quit the band because Black Dirt wasn’t commercial enough for his liking) before settling on Shane Roberts and Smooth Bomber to round out Black Dirt of the West.

“It takes a while to get a band going,” he says.

“If you have a band that’s ready to hit the stage in less than a year then you’re really doing something. I know that happens a lot, but it also doesn’t happen a lot.”

- Calgary Sun - Lisa Wilton


Buried in the impenetrable farmlands of Mountain View County in central Alberta, about halfway between Red Deer and Calgary, is a band that sings about what no traditional rock ‘n’ roll band would ever dream of approaching: the country life. Black Dirt of the West is a four-piece dirty rock ‘n’ roll band that thrives on their distinction. Away from the city lights and standard nihilist topics like “being strung out on the streets and the boulevards and dealing with people on heroin and prostitution,” as guitarist and vocalist Rick Overwater puts it, the veteran musicians combine the subject matter of classic country legends, such as Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, and set it to fast and gritty rock ‘n’ roll that gives the impression of a mad run across the prairies in a stolen convertible at manic speeds. There are two loves in the world of Black Dirt of the West: whiskey before last call at a country dive and the romantic notion of death that comes from waking up in the gutter hungover one too many mornings.

Despite having families and full-time jobs, the four have still found time to record their upcoming self-titled 7”, to be released on December 2 via the infallible Canadian rock label, Transistor 66. The single features just two songs, “I Hit the Road” and “Son of a Bullfighter’s Ghost,” which showcase the band in two different, yet equally effective, settings. The former is a straightforward rock ‘n’ roll song about a timeless tradition: running away as a pissed off teenager to find that the open road is a much more cruel environment than imagined. With a high-octane rhythm section, provided by bassist Smooth Bomber and drummer Lorne Petersen, the song is over in a quick, if slightly generic, three minutes. “Son of a Bullfighter’s Ghost” is a much more interesting, accelerated, rockabilly-tinged tune that swings with upbeat comfort as Overwater weaves the narrative.

“I’ve been no angel in my life and I have sampled most of the finer vices this world has to offer at some point or another, but it just doesn’t seem honest to me,” explains Overwater of his different approach to the rock ‘n’ roll canon. “Meanwhile, I’ve also got this unique perspective that other country kids don’t have: even country music doesn’t write about living out in the country anymore, so I try to draw from that. One of my favourite lyricists is Dave Wyndorf from Monster Magnet and I love how he can make pills and the universe and two black holes colliding and sex and rock ‘n’ roll all fit together in one song. I love how he does that.”

Alongside his heavy music influences - which include growing up around parent-approved country (and loving it), discovering heavy metal by the likes of Iron Maiden and Motörhead and, later, in university, “getting into punk rock in a big way” of the likes of DOA, Social Distortion, or Hellacopters - Overwater counts some more unexpected influences: Sergio Leone movies, comic book surrealism and Texaco gas stations.

Indeed, it was at a Texaco station when he was five, and just starting to think about the concept of death, that he first heard Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and wondered, too, what it would be like to kill a man to watch him die. But, far from letting it scar him too profoundly, he combined that morbid fascination with science fiction and “comic books by the ass-load” to develop his own unique, country rock ‘n’ roll, story-telling voice.

- Beatroute Magazine - Sebastian Buzzalino


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

The County Reeves are long-time veterans from the Calgary rockabilly, country and punk/rock scenes. Our band histories include: Agriculture Club, Black Dirt of the West, The Culls, The Black Coffee Cowboys, The Pines, and The Jamies.

Over the years we have played with Elliot Brood, Fred Eaglesmith, Corb Lund, Carolyn Mark, Joe Keithly/DOA, Reverend Horton Heat, the Supersuckers, Nashville Pussy, and White Cowbell Oklahoma to name a few.

Band Members