Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a cover band that owes its existence to Jerry Lee Lewis, Pandora and Tinder.
“(Drummer Jake Blomberg) and I live together,” guitar/vocalist Josh Adams explained. “One day we were listening to Jerry Lee Lewis on Pandora. I was just on that kick. So we went down to the basement one day and worked our way through ‘Great Balls of Fire,’ just the two of us, drums and guitar.”
It seemed like a fun little one-off until they convinced bassist (and Elvis fan) Tyler Frazier to come over one night and join in.
“So then it was us three,” Adams said. “Then (guitarist) Stephen Rood was living next door and he said, ‘That sounds pretty fun. If you ever need another guitarist…’ ”
And just like that, they had a full band.
That was in November of 2014, and it didn’t take long for the band to start playing gigs. Their first regular spot, however, came about in an unusual way.
“I was talking to this girl on Tinder,” Adams explained with a laugh, referring to the popular dating/hook-up app. “One of the first things to come up was music, and I said that I was in this band. Well, she said she worked at this bar in Marshalltown called The Old Timer. She asked if we played outside of Des Moines, and it was like, ‘Well, we haven’t actually played yet. But when we do, I assume we’ll leave Des Moines.’ So now we play Marshalltown every other month.”
It is a fittingly unconventional beginning to a rather unconventional act. As mentioned, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a cover band, but one that focuses entirely on 1950s and ‘60s rock. They play the songs as straight as they can (artistic liberties must be taken for string and key sections) and take pride in showing people how great these old songs can sound.
“Some will say, ‘This is grandpa music! Why do you play this?’ ” Frazier said. “And I’m like, ‘This stuff is seriously amazing.’ ”
But for every new fan they make, the Scoundrels are perhaps even happier about the established fans who find them.
“We talked to a couple who met at the Val Air Ballroom 57 years ago,” Frazier said. “And they said listening to us was like being there again. That’s pretty cool.” CV