Earlier in the semester, Alastair Fernbach (C’20) and Hunter Craighill (C’20) perform outdoors. Photo courtesy of Emma Burdett (C’20).
By Oliver Heffron
If there is one thing to be said about Dirty Mike and the Boys it’s that they love to jam. The newly-formed band, and brainchild of Hunter Craighill (C’20), invited the local Sewanee crowd into their spontaneous process of songmaking as they swooned between funk, blues, and rock on the stage at Shenanigans on November 13.
Dirty Mike and the Boys consists of frontman and lead guitarist Craighill, rhythm guitar and singer Ryan Wax (C’22), bassist Alastair Ferenbach (C’20), keyboardist Charles Stehno (C’20), and drummer Tripp Chinn (C’22). Each member brings something unique to the table as Craighill explains, “Charles brings a prominent jazz influence into our music through the keyboard, which fuses with my blues-rock guitar riffs. The undertones of punk come from Tripp’s drumming, and Wax adds a pop-aspect with his voice that helps keep crowd engaged.”
Dirty Mike and the Boys synthesized their musical talents at the outset of the semester and, despite a lack of rehearsal space, have been inspired to find time to come together and jam. Craghill explains how spontaneity has become a key aspect to their sound, “We all have very similar musical minds so we tend to find a groove within the show and just run with it. We can all easily go off each other.” This spontaneous, jam-band style is not foreign to Sewanee’s campus in any means, however Dirty Mike and the Boys bring something different to the table.
After a handful of instrumental Grateful Dead renditions, the band was warm and the crowd was ready to move. Dirty Mike and the Boys then portrayed their musical range with their infectious rendition of the nostalgia-inducing “You Found Me” by The Fray. The crowd of Generation Z babies became a soundboard of mid-2000s pop-rock lyrics.
The enthusiastic crowd did little to muddy the resonating pitch of rapper-turned-singer Ryan Wax’s unique voice that dips between octaves in equal pitch and projection. The crowd was hooked from the start, but when Craighill broke out into one of his heralded guitar solos it fully submerged the audience of Shenanigans into the Dirty Mike and the Boys experience.
By the time the band played one of their favorite renditions, “Ain’t No Sunshine (When She’s Gone)” by Bill Withers, the crowd was clearly enjoying the show. Craighill describes the difference between playing Shenanigans and the usual frat-house venue, “It definitely feels different, when you see people enjoying themselves watch your band, and you know that person took money out of their wallet and time out of their day to come watch us play.”
Dirty Mike and the Boys had another show at Shenanigans Thursday, November 21, with the Chattanooga-based band named The Afternooners.