Backwoods bravado, patriot’s pride, country soul, keg-thumping beats — these are the qualities that Moonshine Bandits have championed since they began their journey. Armed with a hybrid arsenal of country and hip hop fusion, the California duo of Dusty ‘Tex’ Dahlgren and Brett ‘Bird’ Brooks are back with the grittiest, spirited and distinctly grass-roots release of their sixteen year campaign of musical badassery – “Gold Rush.”
If you ain’t about this life then you ain’t about shit.” – From the Track ‘Mud Money’ on the Moonshine Bandits latest release ‘Gold Rush”’
Since their formation in Los Banos California in 2003 the Moonshine Bandits have continued a campaign of crossover genre-bending musical mayhem that appeals to the eclectic, color-outside-the-lines tastes of listeners, aka The Shiners, and they fiercely refuse to have their tastes confined and filed into categories. “Our musical style has always been full throttle and in your face,” says Moonshine Bandit Tex. Just like the rumrunners, bootleggers, smugglers and outlaws of old – the Moonshine Bandits provide a supply of the goods for the demand, defying the mandates and trends of mainstream pop culture.
The course of their career has seen ups and downs, hard partying and self-reflection. The Moonshine Bandits have crisscrossed the country performing hundreds of shows a year, ventured into branding their own beef jerky and moonshine, collaborated with some of the music business’s most prolific artists, outshined in the face of record industry roadblocks, earned a fiercely loyal fan following, and embrace the unconventional. Hell, they’ve even had the honor of friend and adult film legend Tera Patrick spicing up a music video! It’s all part of a journey filled with good, bad and even some ugly, but ultimately the Moonshine Bandit philosophy is summed up by Tex and Bird’s joint statement – “We always felt there aren’t stops or boundaries if you pave your own lane.”
And now the Moonshine Bandits have hit the proverbial motherlode with the release of Gold Rush on their very own record label MSB. Taking its inspiration from all that embodied the struggles and successes of America’s extraordinary era when dreams were being made while hunting for that elusive precious gem. It wasn’t entirely about the dollar sign though. The Gold Rush was far more dynamic in terms of the greater meaning and effect it had on all those who took part. Big or small, bust or windfall, for many people the Gold Rush ultimately provided the experience of building a new life in a wild place that had a code of its own.
“Our Gold Rush wasn’t always about the glitter because we took the long haul,” Tex says, and just like many of the hopeful dreamers who panned the creeks of the old west’s badlands, the Moonshine Bandits encountered their share of setbacks but never quit. “We got in the trenches,” Tex continues, “learned and got burned.” The group’s Gold Rush reflects on a career that wasn’t about following some set of rules; this is about living by a code. Now with the debut of their own label, the group can fully exercise that code. “There’s a right way, a wrong way, and now there’s our way.” Characterize it as rebellion, call it anti-establishment, or perhaps it’s a little bit of symbolic of an elusive time when there actually was Honor among thieves, but the Bandits simply see it as lessons learned from experience.
Thematically, Tex and Bird describe the Gold Rush album as homage not only to the band’s career journey but also, and profoundly, “a journey about the people we have come in contact with. The people that inspire our songs.” This is especially true of the track “Two Bar Town” which speaks volumes of the brick and mortar, mom and pop’s, local friends and corner watering holes that truly provided the foundation of everyday life, culture and economics in America. Tex says the theme is all about the ‘small town’ and despite the fact that ‘small towns’ have naturally changed with time that “doesn’t mean you have to, you can still be proud of where you came from and keep those memories forever.”