Local Band Dirt at Kenilworth

John Benson

The Chronicle-Telegram

Weekend warriors having fun. That's how Dan Gilles and his bandmates view their Lorain County cover group, Dirt.

"All five of us are friends away from the stage," said drummer Gilles, a 1992 Admiral King High School graduate, who also contributes to The Chronicle-Telegram sports section. "We hang out when we're not practicing and joke around like old buddies."

Formed a little over a year ago, Dirt has already undergone a few lineup changes before settling on the current members -- Gilles, John Raab (vocals), Matt Smith (guitar), Jason Ortman (bass) and Ronny Turner (guitar). Intially, Gilles said the idea was to start an Alice in Chains tribute act. Hence the group's name, which is taken from the title of the grunge band's 1992 album.

"Innocently enough, we saw a Facebook post from a guitarist who was looking for musicians to start a project. The project he had in mind was an Alice In Chains tribute band. John and I were in another band together that played original metal, but we left after a couple of months due to creative differences.

"We were looking for something, anything, to do with music. Alice in Chains was the one grunge band that to me stood out above the rest. I've always been a fan of them. From a drumming perspective, it's very fun and challenging stuff, but not overly complicated."

What initially began as an Alice in Chains tribute act has now expanded into playing hard rock from the 70s through the 2000s. The song list includes popular tracks by Drowning Pool ("Bodies"), Rage Against The Machine ("Killing in the Name"), Alice in Chains ("Man in the Box"), Kiss ("Cold Gin"), Metallica ("For Whom the Bell Tolls") and Filter ("Hey Man Nice Shot").

During that time, the group has moved into playing bigger venues and stages, including a show Saturday at Kenilworth Tavern II at Avon Lake. While Gilles and company have fun playing covers, is there any inkling for the group to explore playing original music?

"Never say never, but I think we are all comfortable playing coves," Gilles said. "We're all in our 40s. We all have real jobs. Most of us are married or in committed relationships, some have kids. So the opportunities to write original music material are pretty slim.

"You never know. We are all fairly talented musicians in our own rights and have all played in original bands, but for now and for the foreseeable future, I think we'll stick to covering heavier music."

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John Benson
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