How did we end up playing country music in Dubai?
Dubai is a city where you can get jammed up in Ferrari gridlock on a man-made island while driving to an indoor ski slope. It’s a city with almost anything one can imagine. But we noticed something was missing – American music, the kind we grew up on.
We were born and bred in America’s heartland, where cornfields kiss the horizon, the diner waitress always call you ‘hun’, and backroad cruising is a typical Friday night activity. The only radio stations that come in play round-the-clock country or gospel (or both), and it was those twangy, toe-tappin’ tunes that became the soundtrack to our lives.
In our first seven years in Dubai, we saw and played with hundreds of musical acts from around the globe, but none of them were playing the kind of music we were brought up on.
We relished any opportunity we got to share our favorite country and gospel singalongs at house parties and desert campfires, but we never dreamed that we could translate that style of music to the Dubai stage – until we booked the worst gig of our lives.
We were hired to play standard pop music at an outdoor bar and restaurant. It was a great place and our music was spot on. The vocal harmonies were there, the guitar licks were solid, but we just didn’t feel the music. And since we didn’t feel it, neither did the folks listening to us; they practically looked right through us. Something had to change.
We lined up our next audition at a fancy five-star star hotel that was looking for more of that modern pop and radio music, so we showed up in gingham button-downs and played some Ed Sheeran tunes. They hired us, but between that audition and our first performance we decided enough was enough. It was time to roll the dice and play the music we wanted to play, the music we wanted to hear, the music that felt right at house parties and campfires. It was time to play some good ol’ Down Home music.
On our opening night, we walked into that fancy hotel wearing cowboy hats and carrying a song list that would have read like a foreign language to anyone unfamiliar with American music. We knew we ran the risk of getting turned around and marched right back out the door by the management, but we wanted to play our music and were determined to find someone who wanted to hear us play it.
One year and 100 gigs later, that gamble is paying off. Not only did the crowd at that five-star hotel love our look and sound, so do thousands of other Dubai residents.
We reckon we are finding so much love in the heart of the Arabian Gulf amidst Bugattis, Bentleys, and Bvlgari bling because life in Dubai is remarkably complex and profoundly artificial. Glass skyscrapers spring up out of nowhere and inboxes fill up fast. Traffic jams and meetings are lined up as far as the eye can see, and all of this makes people yearn for something simple and authentic.
Our music celebrates the simple things folks tend to overlook. Our music is the kind that puts you on your back porch with a drink in your hand.
We don’t just offer music – we offer an escape.
So now Dubai isn’t the city with almost everything one can imagine, it’s the city with everything: man-made islands, Ferrari gridlock, indoor ski slopes, and great Down Home music.