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Sound Circuit

Dust Radio


Blues morphed into rock and roll

When Dust Radio plays a new venue, they only bring their guitars, playing a repertoire of originals and covers. The band’s founder, James Nicholson, explains.

“We’re loose and don’t have a set list,” he says. “We decide on the first three songs and then play what’s based on going on with the crowd.”

The band’s name comes from a Chris Whitley song.

“The name seemed to roll off our tongues,” he says. “It also explains our music. It’s nothing new. A little dusty, but it’s a modern take on the classics.”

They play classic rock, Americana-roots sound and a “blues morphed into rock and roll.” Nearly 70 percent of the songs they play are originals. They play covers by the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker Band and the Rolling Stones. Nicholson, who plays guitar, says, “I call it Midwestern rock. It’s an old-school sound.”

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Other band members include Aaron Winters on guitar and vocals; Rob Short, guitar; Chuck Stroud, bass guitar; and Dan Tripp on drums.
Winters and Nicholson are the chief songwriters and enjoy a strong musical connection. For their upcoming record, the music simply credits, “songs by Dust Radio.”

“We realized our songwriting is a group effort. The band seems to have musical intuition, so the songwriter’s credit reflects that,” he says.

With four guitars, the sound is tight and complements, rather than competes, for a unique blend. Nicholson and Short have strummed together for eight years.

“I’ve learned where his space is and mine,” Nicholson says. “We try to serve the song, and I intuitively know when to play the parts or if Rob should take a solo.”

The band plays private parties, central Iowa bars and recently performed at Byrons in Pomeroy and Gross Domestic Product 2019.

“We love all the shows,” he says. “We enjoy connecting and dancing, when the crowd gives that back to us, it takes us to a whole other level. It’s the band’s job to create the atmosphere.”

Nicholson says the Des Moines band scene is stellar. He cites that if a band member experiences a disaster, all musicians support one another.

“When you look at the list of bands playing in Des Moines, there’s a lot of serious talent,” he says. “We’re privileged to be part of a great music scene and a tight-knit group of local music that people don’t realize. People who don’t get out and see live music don’t know what they’re missing.”

Catch Dust Radio at the Greenwood Lounge on Dec. 14 or at Gaslamp on Jan. 24. ♦

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