Banditos Like to Let Their Dirty Roots Show

Photo: Joshua Shoemaker

Banditos are a downright dirty band. That’s not an observation about their personal hygiene, but an analysis of their aural impact, although it’s open to interpretation when lead guitarist and lap steel player Jeffery Salter describes the construction of the country-rocking outfit’s sound by saying, “Each person brought their own stank to the collective nostril.” And they did, after all, once make a batch of home-recorded tunes called The Filthy Sessions.

Without taking a ride on the Banditos tour bus, we’ll have to assume the sextet’s “stank” quotient comes chiefly from the earthy, ragged-but-right feel they bring to their blend of hell-bound honky-tonk, roadhouse roots-rock, and field-holler folk — for easy ID purposes, let’s be lazy and call it Americana. The band came together in Alabama just a couple of years ago, but couldn’t stay in one place for too long. “We recently uprooted from Birmingham and moved to Nashville to get out of our comfort zone,” says Salter. “It’s been tough but it’s been one of the best experiences for all of us.”

According to Salter, the band’s beginnings were as organic as their output. “All of us have known each other for as long as we can remember,” he says. “It started as a two-piece and grew into a family with very eclectic tastes.” The family includes singer Mary Beth Richards, singer/guitarist Timothy Steven Corey, singer/banjo man Stephen Alan Pierce II, and a rhythm section of upright bassist Jeffery Daniel Vines and drummer Randy Taylor Wade (Yes, this is a band that bears its middle names with pride). Their musical melange is informed by everything from the old-school country of Hank Williams and Conway Twitty to classic roots-rockers like the Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival. In a relatively short time, they’ve made their presence felt among those with a passion for raw, rootsy music; Banditos fans even have an official name: Fanditos. Salter describes the vibe generated at the average Banditos show by the interaction between the band and its admirers as “rowdy, sweaty, regrettable.”

There’s currently a six-track Banditos EP available, but they’ve got a full-length album in the works for a spring release. “We were very excited to work with [Alabama Shakes producer] Andrija Tokic at Bombshelter in Nashville,” Salter says of the new recording. “Most of the album was recorded live and the energy definitely shows.” Salter says Banditos fans present and future can expect “a few shit-kickers, good ol’ straightforward rock & roll tunes, and a few that get a little more psychedelic.” Of course, it goes without saying that the band can be counted on to keep it dirty.

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