Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations to perform at Jazz Cafe in Plains Township
Kansas-based vocalist and harmonicist Dustin Arbuckle is not sure how his latest project will be musically defined — and that excites him.
Arbuckle, who has endeared himself to fans as one third of blues/roots-rock trio Moreland & Arbuckle, will perform with newly-formed outfit Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations during an evening of music that begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township.
Locally-rooted songwriter and guitarist Mike “MiZ” Mizwinski will open the show.
As Arbuckle finishes his tour dates with the amicably-splitting Moreland & Arbuckle and prepares to front the Damnations, he’s looking forward to delving into different styles along the Americana spectrum.
“Right now, these are going to be the first shows the band has played,” Arbuckle said. “It’s exploratory right now. It’s a time to try different things and see what works.”
A blend of electric “Mississippi blues and stoner rock,” Moreland & Arbuckle — which has toured throughout the world and shared stages with genre giants like Buddy Guy and Robert Cray — reflects affinities Arbuckle developed as a child and maintained throughout his teens and early 20s.
“I started hearing traditional blues stuff, and that really bit me,” Arbuckle said. “I was hyper-committed to that and maybe even stubborn and a little obtuse. Then I started to let other music back in.”
Arbuckle names Memphis soul acts like Otis Redding and the Staple Singers and Americana greats like The Band and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers among the influences that crept in.
Now 35, Arbuckle expects some of those styles to be expressed with the Damnations.
“We’re going to be doing some old-school blues tunes and some soul stuff and a little bit of jazz, and some songs will cheat more in that Americana direction,” he said. “It’s going to be a fun and eclectic show.”
Joining Arbuckle will be Moreland & Arbuckle drummer Kendall Newby; veteran guitarist Brandon Hudspeth; and bass Ph.D and principal bassist for the Wichita Symphony, Dr. Mark Foley.
Arbuckle said moving forward with Newby is comforting because of his talent and their history together.
“He’s a great drummer, and he’s a powerful player and has eclectic tastes that help him effectively play in a lot of different styles,” Arbuckle said.
Hudspeth and Arbuckle became friendly crossing paths in the Kansas City music scene.
“He comes out of that traditional blues school,” Arbuckle said. “He has that electric ’50s and ’60s sound, and he’s toured the blues community with a few different people over the years. It’s fun to see him get outside of that box.”
Arbuckle also has familiarity with Foley, who plays in Arbuckle’s bluegrass side project, Haymakers.
“He did the session work on the last Moreland & Arbuckle record,” Arbuckle said. “He spent most of his career in academia, but he plays with all kind of bands and makes all sorts of music, everything from bluegrass to electronic dance music. He’s about as good a player as you can ever want to play with.”
Although Arbuckle said he loves the unique music made in Moreland & Arbuckle, he’s poised for the new direction.
“I know there are a lot of Moreland & Arbuckle fans who have been really supportive of me and of us in the past, and I have a lot of gratitude for those folks,” Arbuckle said. “I’m really hoping to see those people out on the road as I go forward in my career. It’s a new and exciting ride, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Having played the Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck in past years, Arbuckle also has an appreciation for the region.
“I get the sense there’s an open music community there,” he said. “There seems to be a good jamband culture and bluegrass culture and blues culture, which includes Briggs Farm.
“I’m really excited to see the venue,” he said of the Jazz Cafe. “It sounds like a cool little place.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.
IF YOU GO
What: Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations with special guest Mike “MiZ” Mizwinski
Where: River Street Jazz Cafe, 667 N. River St., Plains Township
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Additional information: Admission costs $8 in advance and $15 the day of the show. Tickets are available in advance at bit.ly/2qUPBfc.