Interview with Dukes County Love Affair

Late Sunday afternoon brought windy weather and the sounds of bleating sheep outside Dukes County Love Affair’s studio in Lambert’s Cove. The music slowly died down, and the band, which includes Islanders Mike Parker on lead vocals, harmonica, and megaphone, Jamie Green on drums, and John Stanwood playing guitar, started talking.

How would you describe the music that DCLA writes and plays?

JS: It has been a long running problem of what description exactly fits the music we play. I would call it Gypsy Blues Hop.

MP: Experimental Blues with Hop Fusion.

JG: It is hard to describe: Dirty Rock and Roll, Megaphone funk.

When did DCLA initially form?

JS: On the boat — we were all returning home from different travels in late May 2009.

MP: We hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years and just started talking about music right there on the boat.

So I know you guys write your own music. How does that happen, and do covers ever come into play?

JS: All originals. Exceptions and covers include Cakes’ “Nugget” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” with our own lyrics sung.

MP: All our music we write. We also covered “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel at a New Years Eve show. I write a lot while traveling and come back to Stanwood humming a tune and he’ll mimic it on his guitar. I’ve also described it as very basic guitar chords and lyrics…pre-school material…and then John will take it and turn it into master material.

Who have you guys listened to over the years that inspire your songs?

MP: Led Zeppelin, Mos Def, Bob Dylan for my writing influence as well as Old Crow Medicine Show for the harmonica, Beck, The Rolling Stones’s early albums, specifically “Beggars Banquet” (1968) and “Exile on Main Street” (1972), The Roots because they are a live band that plays hip hop, The Rock and Roll Adventure Kids from Berkeley, California, and The Heartless Bastards from Ohio.

JG: As for drumming, definitely Nirvana for their simple yet hard aspect, Zeppelin, Broken Bells, The Gorillaz, Beck, Fun Loving Criminals and the DJ/Hip Hop scene.

JS: Tom Waits, The Kinks, Chuck Berry, Nico, Dan Auerbach, Townes Van Zandt, Radiohead and David Byrne alongside of The Talking Heads.

What’s the funniest cover song DCLA has ever performed?

JS: It was a Christmas Jingle Bell Rock rhythm free-style that lasted like a minute and a half in Che’s Lounge.

Have you all traveled to the mainland for any gigs lately?

JS: Yes. Brooklyn, New York and Brattleboro, Vermont, but we will be playing more.

JG: In Brooklyn, we got the cops called on us because we were playing too loud in a too-small restaurant.

Where was DCLA’S first gig ever and how did it turn out?

MP: The Island House early summer 2009. It was great because after the gig, we all knew we could continue playing music together, and people would like it. It was reaffirming.

JS: Even people that didn’t know us liked it. That was huge. We knew it could be serious.

JG: I second that. I was so nervous during our first show until finally everyone started jumping around.

Do each of you have day jobs and do you like them?

JS: Yes and yes. Drafting, design, and construction is what I do when I’m not playing music.

JG: Yup. Carpentry, and it’s very nice. My workload is lighter this summer so I hope to be jamming a lot more.

MP: I’m working as a painter but really enjoy helping out at Nectar’s for Locals Night, fundraising for Hospice, trying to give back through music with the help of the Island.

Do any of you have a muse for all the music you create?

MP: Traveling, absolutely traveling and backpacking.

JS: I haven’t ever thought about it before. (long pause). My dad, David Stanwood, influenced my musical background and I could never be where I am without that, but today, a lot of different things inspire my music.

JG: These two kids are, John and Mike, and A.K. [Alex Karalekas] for the drums. But any positive feedback makes you want to keep going.

Any news you boys would like to share for the upcoming summer?

JS: We want to be playing consistently new stuff at every show.

JG: Trying to record an album, play out a bit but record a lot. I also dedicate this summer to making new songs.

MP: I concur.

Where can we hear your music next?

JG: Nectar’s on Sunday, June 13, the first Locals Night of the season, and following that we’re playing the Dive Bar on June 19.

The boys drifted from music and talked surf swells, then went off about a new song as they got their instruments. A smoky, sad sound reverberated as DCLA tuned into playing their own “Dukes County Blues,” where Mike Parker embellishes with a heartfelt harmonica and simple bass.