You don’t have to like the Moonshine Bandits, or their music. In fact, you can downright hate it if you want.
But any logical person that values hard work and a devotion to a craft has no choice but to respect the Los Banos, Calif.-based country rap/rock group. Since 2003, the Moonshine Bandits, consisting of Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren and Brett “Bird” Brooks, has zigzagged around the country, slinging their unique brand of country hip-hop and picking up fans one by one.
Without the luxury of nationwide airplay or a steady presence on television music channels, the Bandits mounted a grassroots movement in building their Shiner Nation, the term they coined for their loyal group of fans.
The group has raked in millions of views to their YouTube channel, dropping collaborations with the likes of Bubba Sparxxx and fellow Average Joes Entertainment artists Colt Ford and The Lacs.
The fruits of their labor showed through a few months back when the Bandits swung through Michigan for back-to-back visits to The Machine Shop in Flint and their first ever trip to The Music Factory in Battle Creek. Both shows were near sellouts.
wsg. Jared Knox & The Hagar Bombs, The Copper Stills Band
The Music Factor, Angell St., Battle Creek
Oct. 15, 7 p.m., All Ages
“Any time you get the chance to come to a new market and have that type of support, you know your music is getting heard,” Brooks said. “People are enjoying it and are sharing it with other people and those people are getting behind it, as well.
“Our fan base — it’s more like a family unit. Once they see what we have going, they want to be a part of that. We have the best fans in the world. They believe in us. They know we’re a blue collared band.”
The Moonshine Bandits will make a return trip to Battle Creek on Thursday, Sept. 15 before heading south to Indianapolis. Brooks labeled the folks of Battle Creek and the surrounding areas good people who “work their asses off.”
The group has not always been completely under the radar. They’ve broken out time and time again whether that included being featured on CMT or Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Still, the group continues to seek that solid mainstream attention.
“Maybe we’ll never get a chance — for us, that’s fine,” Brooks said. “We’re very happy to get to meet the people we meet on a daily basis.”
Brooks has a home in Nashville, which highlights a certain juxtaposition. He said that the town certainly has a “country club” feel in terms of which artists are accepted into the Nashville establishment — one that the Bandits are not apart of.
However, the sound that the group has worked so hard to promote is leeching its way into mainstream country, with artists like Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line bringing elements of hip-hop into the mix.
“All the big guys are doing that kind of stuff,” Brooks said. “They did it because there are guys like us and The Lacs that have been busting down doors.”
Ultimately, Brooks said he sees the trend as beneficial.
“It’s inevitably going to open up doors for the true artists that make this music and live this way and live this type of originality. It’s going to bust the doors open. They can’t keep us all out. I really don’t foresee that being too far down the road.”
Also coming up down that road is the Moonshine Bandit’s next studio album release. Brooks said he expects the album out in early 2017.
For the album, the Bandits and their production team went on full lockdown out on the Pacific Northwest coastline to create it.
“It was amazing process to bring this record together and just the kind of music we made,” Brooks said. “It furthers the progression of our sound and it’s about just becoming a better and better band, really.”