If you’ve ever been to a Dirty Guv’nahs concert, there is no doubt you’ve witnessed the transfer of energy that occurs from stage to fan. “We’re a different kind of band in that people don’t come to our shows because they think we’re the cleanest, polished performers,” says the band’s singer, James Trimble. “They’re coming to a bit of a raw, enthusiastic event that might have some mistakes. It might be a little bit messy, but it’s going to be a great time. And that’s what we’ve always been about.”
The energy Trimble refers to began at the band’s inception in 2005. “Our band when we started really was just for fun,” Trimble says. “It was more of a joke. We thought we’d play a couple shows and make a good memory and a laugh.” Even the name—the Dirty Guv’nahs—was named after a mutual friend of the band members as part of that early fun. But the name stuck and so did the fans.
The band played in Knoxville for a year and a half—most with University of Tennessee ties—and they chose to only play shows that had the potential to “turn into a bit of a spectacle,” Trimble says. It didn’t take long for word to get out about the Dirty Guv’nahs and their stand-out shows. “We started making enough fans to where people knew our songs at the shows, and it was wild.”
Touring around the clock in those early years, whatever money they earned from their shows went right back into the band. “We made a pact as a band that any money that comes from this, we were just going to reinvest it,” Trimble says, adding that it helped keep the band afloat in those early years. “We were all dedicated from the beginning that this was something that was fun, that was meant for others and not just for us.”
After touring and creating albums for nearly a decade, things came to a halt in 2015. “We were just kind of at a moment where we were starting to feel the fuse burn out a little bit,” Trimble says. The fans were still there, but “the enthusiasm that it takes to keep on keeping on with a small business” was slowing. So they did a farewell tour, to end on a high note. “We honestly thought that was it.”
Fast forward three years and the fuse was revived. “We’d been just messing around writing new songs,” Trimble says, and while they weren’t ready to release another album, fans found the Dirty Guv’nahs back on stage. The Comeback Tour sold out, as did their mini tour of shows the following year.
When the pandemic hit, the focus shifted, and the band found themselves back in the studio recording music. The Dirty Guv’nahs latest album, Revival, came out just this year. “We’re back,” Trimble says, “fully as an artist, part time as a touring entity.”
Today the band is knee-deep in planning their 2022 Southern Skies Music Festival, which will be held in Knoxville in May. You can learn more about the Dirty Guv’nahs and keep up with the festival goings-on at www.thedirtyguvnahs.com.