The origins of Wayland’s Big Dudee Roo read like something you might hear in a folk song. Years ago, in a small town on the banks of the Rabbit River in Allegan County, three string-pluckin’ kids tapped into their love of old-timey tunes with the help of their next door neighbor on skins.
Almost 10 years later, some things have changed and some remain the same. The lineup still consists of the same members who got their start playing at the Wayland High School senior talent show eight years ago: Max Lockwood, Justin Dore, Nate Wagner and Kurt Rizley.
The dudes also still take the better parts of ‘90s grunge and stitch them into country-tinged folk rock. Their first records, Germination! (2010) and Listen To Your Discontent (2011), featured Lockwood’s sister, Aurora Lewis, on lead vocals, but after Lewis left to pursue a career in dance, the foursome tipped the scales slightly in favor of, as Lockwood puts it, “a lot of loud guitars and drums.”
|Big Dudee Roo upcoming shows
March 6: Watermark 920, Muskegon, wsg The Carboys
March 7: Founders, Grand Rapids, wsg with The Carboys and The Fever Haze
March 12: Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo, wsg Ben Daniels Band
March 27: The Intersection, Grand Rapids, opening for Donna the Buffalo
The band is set to release a four-track EP, Heavy Dudee, on March 7. Recorded on a misty day last fall in a barn in Sparta, the record finds Big Dudee Roo moving into slightly spacier and more rock-driven territory.
“When we shifted to the four-piece setup, we decided to go back to our grunge roots a little,” Lockwood said. “We came up listening to a lot of Neil Young, Pearl Jam and My Morning Jacket ... so it felt good with this record to explore that side of the band and have fun with it.”
Heavy Dudee also marks the beginning of a new partnership the band is rightfully stoked about.
“We're also excited that this record will be our first release as a member of the Earthwork Music Collective, a group we've long admired for the great work it does promoting community, sustainability and social justice in Michigan,” Lockwood said.
With Lockwood handling principle songwriting duties, the EP features three original songs, including an alternate version of “I Know You Know,” a cut from his recent solo record. Heavy Dudee also features a cover of "Republic County" by songwriter L.A. Fahy, who Lockwood said he “found out about when I was playing bass for the Ragbirds and he opened a show of ours there a few years back.”
Big Dudee Roo will play a couple different release shows for the new album, including March 6 at Watermark 920 in Muskegon with The Carboys; at Founders in Grand Rapids on March 7 with The Carboys and The Fever Haze; and at Bell’s in Kalamazoo on March 12 with Ben Daniels Band. In addition, the group will open for Donna the Buffalo at the Intersection in Grand Rapids on March 27. The dudes also plan on touring the state throughout spring and summer.
More Local Music News:
The Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary March 20-21 at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The two-day event is free, and features live performances, a whole bunch of cool workshops for people into the spectrum of stringed instruments and tons of different local and regional vendors. Among those performing are Red Tail Ring, Crossroads Resurrection, Deep Fried Pickle Project and more. Visit fretboard.kvcc.edu for the full lineup.
Son Lux, the hard-to-pin-down project of New York artist Ryan Lott, plays at the Ladies Literary Club in Grand Rapids with the support of powerfully experimental GR group CARE. CARE recently finished recording an album due out later this year, so it’s a safe bet this show is a good chance to preview some of their newer tunes.
Kalamazoo’s Sexy Toxins, a two-piece disco pop punk band, will play with Detroit’s beloved Electric Six, as well as Avan Lava at Louies on March 1. Sexy Toxins also plays on March 12 at Louie’s with Turquoise Jeep and The Wrap.
Let the tunes of Fonn Morr, the traditional Irish folk collective based out of West Michigan and Chicago, get you hyped for St. Patty’s Day. The group plays Bell’s on March 7.
In an eclectic mix of post-rock regional favorites, Heavier Than Air Flying Machines (Grand Rapids), Tyranny Is Tyranny (Madison, WI) and The Real Lazy Genius (Grand Rapids) take over The Pyramid Scheme on March 27. (More info and tickets)
Kalamazoo’s Out Favor Boys will be opening up for Louisiana bluesman Tab Benoit, Samantha Fish and Mike Zito at the Kalamazoo State Theatre on March 6.
The Mainstays, a Kalamazoo R&B/funk four-piece, are wrapping up a string of tour dates around the state and will end up at Salt of the Earth in Fennville on March 27.