If you’re looking at the photo and thinking that you recognise the members of DeeOhGee, you might well be correct. Formerly known as Blackfoot Gypsies, the band have reconfigured, and the Nashville trio – Matthew Paige on vocals/guitar/banjo, Zack Murphy on drums, and Dylan Whitlow on vocals/bass/keyboards and more – return with a moniker that tips a cap to a term in Waylon Jennings’s Waymore’s Blues.
“We’d been looking for a name, thinking dogs are cool, then Dylan came up with it,” Paige says with a laugh. “It’s a little homage to that music and time that we’re heavily into.”
The band have more than 10 years of playing together, and formed when a then-20-year-old Paige left Portland, Oregon to find kindred spirits in Tennessee. Too young to visit the bar scene, he advertised online for a drummer, and Murphy replied.
“It’s the first and only time I’d done that,” Murphy says. “I was in bands, but struggling to meet people who wanted to go for it [as a living]. I was playing rugby for Nashville and being a rugby bum. I remember looking at that ad, thinking: ‘If this doesn’t work out, then maybe I’m not supposed to be playing music.’”
But the duo’s first jam was “spot-on”, says Murphy. “In Nashville you have a lot of options to be a studio musician or a hired gun for a tour, and I thought that’s what I should do, and rock and roll would be my fun thing. Playing with Matthew it was like: ‘Why don’t I do the fun thing anyways?’"
As a duo, they honed their craft live, then Whitlow came into the equation, and through a shared love of old blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, psychedelia and 90s alt.rock such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, their harmony-laden catalogue bloomed.
“We want to be a live band, but we also want to write good songs,” says Paige. “Everyone of us writes, so it’s nice to build it together.”
“You’ve got the tyres, I’ve got the interior,” Murphy offers.
If you watch footage of their live shows online, there’s no denying DeeOhGee’s spectacular energy, with one reviewer saying their performance was “like watching someone cling to a firehose at full blast”.
“When that switch flips and the bands starts, it’s otherworldly and healing. And we’ve found that since the pandemic, people are so much more into it, dancing and dressing up,” says Paige.
“Just recently The Thirsty Beaver at Charlotte, North Carolina was pretty awesome,” Murphy says. “It’s a small roadhouse kind of bar where old bikers, hippies and cowboys hang out. The energy was amazing. We were like: ‘Is this the best gig ever?!’”
And at the merch stand, amid the usual T-shirts would be DeeOhGee herb grinders and CBD pre-rolls. “I wouldn’t sell anything I didn’t use myself,” Paige says, laughing.
New Way Of Life is available on vinyl from the WDGO Music store.