DIRTY HONEY - CALIFORNIA DREAMIN TOUR
with DOROTHY and MAC SATURN
Doors 630pm / Show 730pm
Some musicians take a while to build an audience and connect with fans. For the Los Angeles-based quartet Dirty Honey, success came right out of the gate. Released in March 2019, the band's debut single, "When I’m Gone," became the first song by an unsigned artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. Their second single, "Rolling 7s," went into the Top 5 and was still headed up when COVID changed everything. That same year, Dirty Honey opened for The Who, Guns ’N Roses, Slash, and Alter Bridge and was the "do-not-miss-band" at major rock festivals such as Welcome to Rockville, Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, Heavy MTL, and Epicenter. On its first U.S. headline tour in January and February 2020, the band sold out every date.
When it came time to record its self-titled full-length debut album, the band—vocalist Marc LaBelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone—wasn't about to mess with what was already working. Teaming up with producer Nick DiDia (Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam), who also produced the band's 2019 self-titled EP, Dirty Honey again captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound.
"As a guitarist, I'm always inspired by the everlasting pursuit of the perfect riff," says Notto. "I also wanted to extend the artistic statement that we had already made. We weren't looking to sound different, or prove our growth, necessarily. It was more about, 'Oh, you thought that was good? Hold my beer.'"
"Because of the pandemic,” added drummer Coverstone, “we had a lot more time to write and prepare, which was great. It meant that we were able to workshop the songs a lot more, and I think it really made a difference."
Dirty Honey's album indeed builds on the band's output to date, with airtight songwriting that plays up their strengths: sexy, bluesy, nasty rock'n'roll, melodic hard rock, and soulful 70s blues-rock. On "The Wire," LaBelle reaffirms his status as one of contemporary rock’s best vocalists, while “Another Last Time” is a raunchy, timeless ballad about a toxic relationship that you just can’t stop saying goodbye to. “Tied Up” and the album’s lead single “California Dreamin,’’ both feature smoking guitar solos bookended by massive riffs and hooks.
“‘California Dreaming’ was the last song we wrote,” said bassist Justin Smolian. “We finished it about two weeks before we recorded it, so the song was still so new, and we were trying out different things, so every take was a little different. But there was that one where we just captured it, and it was magic."
Although each band member started playing music as kids—at the age of eight, Notto's parents even bought him a red-and-white Stratocaster—each one brings eclectic influences to Dirty Honey's sound. For example, drummer Coverstone has studied with jazz and L.A. session drummers but loves heavy metal; Notto grew up listening to ’70s funk and R&B as well as rock 'n' roll, and bassist Smolian has a bachelor of music in classical guitar and loves Tom Petty and The Beach Boys.
LaBelle meanwhile, takes cues from his songwriting idols (to name a few, Robert Plant, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson, and the late Chris Cornell) when coming up with lyrics. As a result, the songs on the Dirty Honey album hint at life's ebbs and flows—shattering heartbreak, romantic connection, intense soul-searching—while giving listeners space to draw their own conclusions.
"Sometimes, if you just let lyrics pass behind your ears, they sound like cool shit is being said," LaBelle says. "And then once you dive in, you realize, 'Oh, that's really thoughtful.' But it still doesn't have a meaning that's easy to pinpoint. There's an overarching idea that is really cool, but it's not necessarily on-the-nose."
Although the Dirty Honey album may sound effortless, its genesis had a bumpy start. The day before the band members were due to fly to Australia to track the album, Los Angeles entered lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling was off the table. However, Dirty Honey was still eager to work with DiDia, so they devised a Plan B: recording the full-length in a Los Angeles studio with one of DiDia's long-time engineers, and the producer beamed into the proceedings via the magic of modern technology.
"He was able to listen to what we were laying down in real-time, through this app," says LaBelle. It was like he was in the room with us. It was surprisingly seamless the way it all went down."
Having to switch gears delayed the start of recording slightly, although this extra time ended up being a boon. Dirty Honey rented a rehearsal space and demoed the album's songs in advance, meaning the tracks were in good shape when DiDia came onboard. Notto mixed and recorded these workshopped tracks himself, which helped him rediscover one of Dirty Honey's biggest strengths: being well-rehearsed while not over polishing their work.
"I've learned just a little bit more about what people might mean when they say, magic—you know, 'This one has the magic,'" he says. "We would do two and three different demos of a song, so there would be a few versions. On a few occasions, the version that people kept going back to was the sloppiest, if you look at it from a performance standpoint."
LaBelle agrees. "It's just about getting the performance right and not thinking about it too much. I never like to be perfect in the studio. None of the stuff that I really liked as a kid was. I don't really see myself getting away from that too much in the future just because I think you lose the soul if you do it too many times, if it's too perfect."
Notto also admits that the creative process isn't necessarily always all fun and games. But for him and the rest of Dirty Honey, pushing through those tough times and coming out stronger on the other side is worth it. "When you finally come through on those moments, that's where the real magic comes in," he says. "What makes all of our songs fun to play and listen to is we don't allow ourselves to stop short of getting the best possible results out of each one of them."
Dorothy Martin’s life changed forever when she was forced to face death on her tour bus some three years ago. After her guitar technician had taken an overdose, and the light began to lift up and out from his body, Dorothy instinctively began praying for his survival. While he may have temporarily died, the technician was astonishingly, miraculously restored back to life as Dorothy and her crew formed a prayer circle near his body. It was this moment that seemed to bring Dorothy to life too. She was gifted a rebirth with a divine intervention that caused a radical and spiritual awakening in the singer, the result of which can be heard on Gifts From The Holy Ghost, Dorothy’s third studio album as front woman for the pseudonymous, blues-rock band Dorothy.
Gifts From The Holy Ghost is the album she’s always wanted, and has perhaps been destined to make. Born from a sense of divine urgency, it is Dorothy’s most bombastic and gloriously, victorious rock and roll work yet. Each song built on triumph—the unshackling of chains, the slaying of demons with a sword of light—the album is a healing and remedial experience, made to unify listeners and point them towards a life full of purpose. It is Dorothy’s greatest gift yet. “This album had to get made, I felt like I had a mission,” she said.
While the band’s first, irreverently named album ROCKISDEAD, was made on a combination of whiskey and heartbreak—inspiring Rolling Stone to name them one of rock’s most exciting new acts, and Jay-Z to sign them to his label Roc Nation—Gifts was built on recovery, health, and holiness, in a way that reverses the clichéd ‘good girl gone bad narrative’.
With the combined powers of Keith Wallen, Jason Hook, Scott Stevens, Phil X, Trevor Lukather, Joel Hamilton and the legendary ear of Chris Lord Alge, Gifts From The Holy Ghost is made from a musical palette which seems to encompass each of the musician’s influences, as well as many of the essential sounds of rock music’s history—from swampy blues to ‘90s alternative —in a way that makes the case for rock and roll itself. Not only is the genre alive, but it’s more invigorated than ever.
“I think this album is going to speak to a lot of people, it’s meant to be healing, unifying, eye-opening, ear-opening, heart-opening and celebratory,” Dorothy said, adding: “I wanted to make the realest album I could make, and I went in with the question does this make me feel alive? Does it make me feel free? If a song didn’t give me chills or make my heart soar, then it didn’t make the cut.”
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Dorothy has always been an instinctual writer and artist. Throughout her life, she’s been asking the big questions, both in and outside her art: ‘What’s the meaning of life? Why are we here? How are we here?’ When she couldn’t find the answers to those questions, she’d numb out the empty uncertainty with drugs and alcohol. She was eventually admitted to rehab and a new chapter was opened in her spiritual journey. Now, with angels whispering in her ear and the spirit moving her steps, she’s found her answers. “I’m just here to impart inspiring messages to people while having fun and rocking out!”
You can hear Dorothy’s powerful resilience across the album, particularly on “Big Guns”, which finds the singer at her boldest; sauntering over slide guitars as she steps into combat. Anthems like “Rest In Peace” bring a sweeping cinematic scope to the album, whereas “Black Sheep”, a rallying cry for unity, explodes with layered gang vocals: “we are blood, we are family,” Dorothy breaks curses, going toe-to-toe with the blistering guitar riffs.
The album’s lyrics are a perfect balance of specificity and generality, so that the listener can attach their own darknesses and triumphs to the songs, while still getting a sense of Dorothy’s own. “We are all one human family.” she declares.
Does that mean Dorothy has overcome all of her own adversities? “It’s a journey and it’s about progress not perfection,” she responds. “I’ve had a lot of deep revelations about my life, stuff I hadn’t been able to cope with until now. Now I’m learning new tools.” With Gifts From The Holy Ghost, Dorothy identifies her purpose as an artist. She conquers darkness with light, numbness with feeling, disharmony with unity—all while delivering one of this year’s most fun rock & roll records.
Mac Saturn is a five-piece ensemble from Detroit, Michigan who have become renowned for delivering electrifying live performances with a dynamic catalog that blends elements of pop-rock, Motown, funk and R&B music. In 2021 the band assembled a loyal team of friends and a regiment of dedicated supporters that saw the quintet take the stage in sold-out rooms at The Fillmore Detroit and St. Andrew’s Hall, as well as Live Nation’s WRIF Fest at Pine Knob Music Theater.
The combination of the group’s on-stage swagger and their rare, intensely collaborative songwriting style garnered the attention of grammy winning producers Al Sutton, Marlon Young, and Herschel Boone, best known for their work with rock band Greta Van Fleet. Mac Saturn has been hard at work on their debut EP with the team from Rust Belt Studios, with an EP slated for summer 2022.