We are The Dirty Rooks, a Chicago rock band. Thanks for visiting us on CD Baby!
We play music with roots in the blues, British rock from the 60s and 70s, and the sound of empty pint glasses being set down a little too hard on a worn but probably sturdy table. Grant Gholson, our guitarist and main songwriter, began playing with our vocalist Dan Stalilonis when they were right out of college and new to the city. They eventually teamed up with the rest of us: Ben Hunt on bass, Nathan Urbansky on drums, and Clapton-devotee Mike Bailey on lead guitar.
We filled out our sound with a rotating cast of singers, keyboardists, and horn players. Our live show developed into an everyone's-invited spectacle along the lines of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen touring act. We've crammed more than a dozen people onto stages probably around the size of your bedroom.
We shared bills with Foghat, Blue Öyster Cult, The Steepwater Band, The Waco Brothers, and plenty of other great bands. We were Top 20 finalists in Lollapalooza’s Last Band Standing contest. We’ve played everywhere from street festivals to the House of Blues, not to mention all sorts of wonderful holes in the wall.
Our first album, The Dirty Rooks (2007), contained ten original songs grounded in Chicago blues, but with a rock and roll bite. We called our brand of music "booze rock," recalling the anti-glam pub rock bands from England in the mid-70s. As one local review put it, “rock n’ roll hasn’t been this drunk in a while” (Newcity).
Our follow-up, Sugar Mama (2010), was built on the same blues foundation as the self-titled debut, but with richer instrumentation and more subtle lyrics. Our album release show at Lincoln Hall was listed by the Chicago Tribune’s Red Eye as one of the Top 30 shows to see that February. (Mariah Carey was one of the others. I'm pretty sure she remembers that as well as we do.)
Our third album, This Is Grand (2012), was recorded at Kingsize Sound Lab in the heart of Chicago’s West Side. It marked the second time we had worked with producer Mike Hagler (Wilco, The New Pornographers, Neko Case), along with Jon Langford (Waco Brothers, The Mekons) and James Elkington (The Zincs, The Horse’s Ha). This Is Grand continues a progression from straight-ahead rock to a more complex, varied sound: “Death in the Afternoon” is an atmospheric piece standing alongside rockers like “Slow” and “Popular.” Like before, our five piece is augmented by additional singers, horns, organ, piano, violin, chimes—there’s even a damn pennywhistle at one point.
Here are some things people have written about us:
"The Dirty Rooks provide a breath of fresh air to a genre that often sounds old and outdated." (The Deli)
"The Dirty Rooks are one of those exemplary bands that ought to melt the heart of any icy, serious music fan with pure, unrequited devotion to rhythm and blues. The Chicago act piles on grimy blues riffs, a horns section fit for a king, and big-time choruses like, "I got a girl that brings home the bacon," creating a bombastic party sound that rouses listeners to buy another pitcher." (A.V. Club Chicago)
"Most satisfying is the sound of blues in young hands that, rather than treating the music as a museum piece, twist it to fit the moment." (Illinois Entertainer)