Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations bring energy, emotion and roots

By Adam Strunk

Electric blues,  roots, old-school country, rock, jazz, soul. It’s hard to pin down an exact sound for Dustin Arbuckle &  the Damnations.

“It all creeps in there,” lead singer Dustin Arbuckle said. He describes their shows as a mix of original and old-school American Roots Music.”We have a pretty eclectic cross-genre electrified Americana sound.”
Their music’s full and smooth, driving at times, soulful at others. Guitar and harmonica riffs throughout serve as a vehicle carrying the different energy and emotions of each song to the audience. More simply put, the songs have a way of making you feel. 

However you want to describe the music, it works.

The band’s been crossing the midwest playing festivals and shows and has a European tour planned in November. 

But before that, they will return to Newton to play Blues Brews and Barbecue, on Saturday, Sept. 24 at Athletic Park. The band’s been a staple of the event through the years, due to the large following the draw as well as the good feedback attendees give about their performance. Arbuckle said he’s looking forward to the show as well as hearing the rest of the lineup.
“One thing that’s cool this year is they’ve gone a bit more cross-genre this year having a blues band, and a band like us, playing Americana roots,” he said. “Then you’ve got the two blue grass bans like Pretend Friend that’s absolutely outstanding and 80- proof engine,” he said. 

He added that he enjoys performing at the event.

“It’s a great setting,” he said. “It’s a cool thing bringing together a lot of local aspects. Harvey County Now is a local paper that’s a cool thing that we need more of. There are some local food trucks.  It’s a great community event for Newton. I think it’s a great vibe and a great kind of locally oriented event.”
Arbuckle will be joined on stage with Amos Vega on Guitar, Colby Aiken on drums, and Caleb Drummond on base. 

“There’s something really beautiful about getting to make music you enjoy people you like making it with,” he said. “ There’s something very unique about the exchange of energy between an artist and a band and the audience with live music.”

Arbuckle besides will also be adding his stylings to the performance on blues harmonica, which helps drive many of the band’s songs along between smooth full vocals. 

“I spent a lot of time as I  was younger driving around listening to CDs of old blues records doing my best to emulate what I was hearing from a lot of the great blues harmonica players,” he said adding that he also had a lot of help honing his skills from local players such as Lee McBee, David Graham and Bill Garrison.

If you’re looking to get a feel of the band and haven’t seen them, a few good songs to check out would be “Across the Desert” and “Say my name.”

Along with Dustin and Arbuckle, Pretend Friend, Bag of Blues, and 80 Proof Engine will perform at Blues Brews and Barbecue Saturday, Sept. 24.

On tap will be craft beers from Walnut River, and Salt City as well as a few domestics and wine. Local favorites Wings and Tails Barbecue and TacoMike will be feeding the hungry crowd.

Gates open at 3 p.m. Music starts at 4 p.m. and will till 10 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Harveycountynow.com/bbb.

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