One of the most unique and interesting bands in Texas music has decided it needs some time off. The Dirty River Boys are declaring an indefinite hiatus, with any future plans up in the air. In a statement posted to social media on Friday, July 28th, the band said,
“The Dirty River Boys are taking an indefinite hiatus after 14 years of creating music inspired by the road, the life, and the people we’ve been so lucky to meet along the way. Thank you to our fans, family, and friends for singing, dancing, and sharing your incredible energy with us all these years. Our love and appreciation for y’all is endless. We’ll miss seeing you on the road. Journey’s end, but the music is forever.”
Nino Cooper, Marco Gutierrez, Travis Stearns, and Colton James formed The Dirty River Boys in El Paso in 2009. They soon became mainstays of the Texas music scene and festivals. Travis Stearns took a break from the band in 2016, and drummer/percussionist Trinidad Leal also performed with the band.
The Dirty River Boys were a unique mix of string band and bluegrass influences, punk and folk, with even a bit of Cajun and Celtic music mixed in. Defining The Dirty River Boys was a difficult to impossible task. Similarly, all members of the band would trade off singing, and often incorporate different instruments, including guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, snare drum, and cajón.
The band released a couple of EPs in Long Cold Fall and Train Station before releasing their anticipated debut album Science of Flight in 2012. This was followed by a self-titled album in 2014, and Mesa Starlight in 2018. Though the band’s recorded output was well-received by core fans, it was the energy and dynamics of their live show that really set them apart. Dallas Observer writer Kelly Dearmore declared them Texas Country’s Best Live Band in 2015.
The Dirty River Boys definitely put on engaging performances. But being indefinable was both their best asset, and their greatest burden. When they formed and string-based high energy bands such as Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers were all the rage, The Dirty River Boys felt like they were the wave of the future. But as other Texas-based live bands began to blow up nationally, The Dirty River Boys continued to remain more of a regional act.
The band never enjoyed great press or radio support either, and though their albums and songs found traction, it was impossible for any recording to capture the dynamics and energy the band brought to the live context.
“Indefinite Hiatus” alludes that The Dirty River Boys are not ready to declare they’re done permanently. But it appears from their statement that it is a possibility they have played their last shows.