If you like twangy country music, with fiddles and steel and that good stuff, then boy do I have a group for you…
There’s a band out of Idaho that has quietly made a big name for themselves in the Northwestern part of the US, but specifically in their home-state. At Gordy’s HWY30 Festlast week there were more of their shirts on fans than a few of the headliners and most near top bill acts and given it was a pretty stacked line-up, that’s quite the accomplishment.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Jesse Dayne & The Sagebrush Drifters.
The 5-piece band consists of 4 born and raised Idaho natives and one military kid who found his way north a bit later, but all of them live and breathe the Gem State.
Since getting together in 2018, each has truly paid, and continues to pay, their dues.
All still have full-time jobs ranging from diesel mechanic (Tyler McDaniel, Lead Guitar) to HVAC (Jesse Dayne, Vocals & Rhythm Guitar), screen printing (Maxwell Reading, Bass) to county work (Schyler Gray, Pedal Steel) to drum teacher (Keaton Wright, Drums), while playing shows anywhere they can.
This gritty, head down and make it happen work ethic is present throughout their debut album, Poison Creek, but is balanced with a reflective, slower pace of life and time spent looking at the mountains, enjoying the natural beauty of Idaho.
The debut album has 10 songs, 8 solo-writes from front-man Jesse Dayne and 2 by Jesse with help from Schyler and Tyler.
Along with co-writing, Tyler helped the band up their quality and get to the level they’re at now but way of a gift of sorts.
Jesse was playing some sub-par guitar which just didn’t have the sound they needed during live sets or recordings, so when his birthday rolled around, Tyler gave him a Gibson J45, saying the first payment was on him if Jesse could do the rest. That’s when the group knew they we’re ready to really put it together and judging by the debut album and live performances, it’s safe to say the tactic worked.
Top to bottom, Poison Creek is fantastic, and I completely recommend just letting it play straight through, but let’s look at a few of my favorites.
The first track can easily become a major hit and has been stuck in my head since the first-time hearing it.
“Wild Horses” is a perfect combination of boot tapping rhythm, soaring fiddle work and great songwriting, leaving you longing for a girl you’ve never met, yet seem to have known your whole life. The chorus high note makes you want to run through the night to find her, singing it over and over again like some type of mantra.
Okay, is that a bit dramatic? Yes, but you get the point. This song is a banger.
“Wild Horses “
The second song on the record is an absolute honky tonk heater which shows the major influence Mike and the Moonpies has had on their style.
Titled “The Showman”, it’s a story of small gigs and tough nights. The song references a now shutdown bar they used to play called The Old Ranch Club, but I wonder if the story of an early gig that went all wrong had a bit to do with it as well.
As Jesse put it…
“One night we were playing in this very little bar with no stage, so we were set up on the floor. There was a Boise State football game on most the time we were playing so nobody gave a shit we were there to begin with…
Then, BSU lost.. things went from bad to worse at this point. I had a mic get kicked into our old fiddle players face, people screaming and couples fighting. During a set break some guy decided he wants to drunkenly wander over to our “stage” and ends up stepping on and breaking one of Tyler’s pedals.
I turn around from the bar to see Tyler body slamming the guy onto the bar floor. Long story short, don’t mess with Tyler’s pedal board.”
Yeah, I’d need beer, whiskey, and a little bit of weed to get me through that night too…
While the Mike and the Moonpies influence is best felt in their musical style, a Randy Rogers songwriting influence is present throughout, but perhaps showcased best with the heartbreaker “She Wears A Ring”.
Could there be a worse feeling than knowing the woman you love is happily married to another guy? It’s tough to imagine a harder situation. I could talk more about it, but let’s just let the lyrics speak for themselves.
“As I sit here crying in the neon light All I see is shades of gray Wondering if you’re thinking of me On your wedding day
She wears a ring It ain’t mine Oh a girl like you is so hard to find Got a show tonight I’ll sing for you Another lowdown lonesome song about being blue”
That’s classic country heartbreak right there.
“She Wears A Ring”
Finally, the title track shows the group’s ability to craft a gem of a story.
“The Ballad Of Poison Creek” tells of a farmer who lost it all to a storm of bad luck and what he’s willing to do to survive. It’s a truly beautiful song and tale of hard times in harsh country lands, and just another great example of the talent these guys have in both playing and writing real country music.
“The Ballad of Poison Creek”
Getting to spend time at HWY30 Fest with Jesse and his awesome girlfriend Morgan was a gift, not just because they showed us some great music, but because they and the rest of the band were some of the most genuine, nicest folks out there. So hop on the wagon now, people, this puppy’s going all the way.
Keep crushing it boys, but I feel no matter what I say you’re going to make it happen.