On the dirt road to success
Local band gaining fans, radio play
by Nathan Arneal
If North Benders listen closely to the lyrics of Dylan & the Dirt Road Detour’s breakout song “Turn the Radio Up,” they should feel right at home.
The song about growing up “where the Platte River bends,” cruising the figure-8, and finding fun wherever you look is now familiar to a lot of people in Nebraska.
What started out as basically a family jam session at Old Settlers two years ago is now playing shows all over Nebraska and selling music worldwide on iTunes.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Bloom said. “You think, ‘Well, we’ve had our fun,’ then all of a sudden, boom, it’s on the radio and it’s craziness after that. We’re just kind of going with it.”
The Dirt Road Detour’s big break came in January when Bloom attended a song writers’ conference in Norfolk. The general manager for 106 KIX, a country music radio station in Norfolk, heard some of Bloom’s original songs and said they might sound pretty good on the radio. Bloom gave him a demo CD with five original songs on it, and a few days later Dylan & the Dirt Road Detour made its radio debut.
“That’s a pretty cool thing to happen,” said Bloom, a 2004 NBC grad. “You’re going right after the Zac Brown Band and all these guys that are touring, and they’re just throwing this little recording you have into the mix of all this. It’s like ‘How are we going to match up?’ Then people started calling in and wanting to hear it.”
They wanted to hear it so much that “Turn the Radio Up” was the soon the No. 1 song on the station’s Drive at Five, a countdown of the day’s five most requested songs. It wasn’t a fluke, either. “Turn the Radio Up” spent 14 straight days atop the countdown, setting a station record.
A few weeks later another DDRD song, “Backroads,” made it to No. 1 on the Drive at Five countdown. Soon other radio stations were playing Dirt Road Detour songs.
Dylan Bloom the musician didn’t happen by accident.
Dylan’s grandfather, Greg “Jeep” Bloom, has been enshrined in the Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having played in some of the state’s groundbreaking early rock bands in the ‘50s. Later in his career, Greg Bloom mixed rock and country as a member of the Haywood Wakefield Band.
Dean Bloom, Dylan’s father, is also musician and has been in several bands.
“When we have family get-togethers we always pass the guitar around and play songs,” Dylan Bloom said. “There was always a guitar laying around the living room growing up.”
Bloom got his first guitar as a Christmas gift his sophomore year of high school, though he didn’t get serious about learning how to play it until college. He never took lessons, but his dad gave him plenty of tips. Dean Bloom told Dylan to learn “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who, a song with a lot of chord changes.
“He said, ‘If you can play this song you can play pretty much any country song,’” Dylan Bloom recalled.
Dylan and a buddy from Arlington, Jake Lange, started to play small acoustic gigs in bars, with some of the earliest shows being played at Little Ricky’s in North Bend.
Doug Hoops approached Bloom about providing some entertainment for the 2009 Old Settlers Welcome Home barbecue. Lange was on vacation, so Bloom recruited Kevin Renner, a drummer he knew, to play with him. He also reached up the family tree and got his dad and grandfather to play. After a day of practice, Renner and the three Blooms pulled off a successful performance.
“That was the main thing that really got this all going, really,” Dylan Bloom said.
The next night, his grandfather’s band Haywood Wakefield was playing at Little Ricky’s and called Dylan up to the stage.
“I got up and played and ended up finishing the night out,” Bloom said. “I was like ‘Yeah. This is fun. We need to get a band going.’”
That’s when Dylan decided to take the dirt road detour.
The original band consisted of Bloom on rhythm guitar and vocals, Renner on the drums and Dean Bloom playing bass.
After about a year, Dean Bloom retired from the band and was replaced by Randy “Rudy” Rutten of Madison. The band also hires a lead guitarist for gigs while continuing to search for a full-time guitarist.
During the 2009-2010 winter, Dylan Bloom started working on original music, with “Turn the Radio Up” being the first song completed.
In July 2010, Dylan & the Dirt Road Detour recorded a five-song demo CD to help more people get to know the band’s music.
“I basically give out CD’s like candy,” Bloom said.
Bloom calls the band’s style of music, a mix of rock and country, “Texas red dirt,” likening its sound to artists such as Steve Earle, The Great Divide and Tom Petty.
In July of last year, Dylan & the Dirt Road Detour got its first experience playing in front of a large crowd at the Sandfly Festival near Yutan. As one of the opening acts for headliner Easton Corbin, DDRD played for a crowd of 2,500. Being relative unknowns, the Dirt Road Detour was given an afternoon slot, the first of the day.
This year the band is returning to the Sandfly Festival, but this time with a much more prestigious 7 p.m. stage time.
Sometime in late summer, the band will head into the studio to record a full-length CD which will include the five songs from the demo CD as well as several new original songs. A representative from Hastings Entertainment, a chain of book and music stores, has already contacted Bloom about selling the CD, saying customers have been asking for it.
While radio play and the group’s video for “Turn the Radio Up” (which can be seen on the Web Log at northbendeagle.com) has given his music career a boost, he says most of the money the band makes goes right back into the band to pay for things like new equipment.
“I don’t think I’m making any more money, but I don’t really care,” said Bloom who works as a seed salesman for Tri-County Ag in Schuyler. “I have a job. That’s why I work during the week. (I playing music) because I love doing it.”
As for the future, Bloom said he will follow the dirt road detour wherever it takes him.
“I don’t see anything limiting us from anything we want to do,” he said. “We’re getting tons of compliments and tons of really good feedback from really good artists. People that are touring that we’ve played with are telling me we need to get this out there. And this has all happened in the last couple of months, so I’m still kind of getting my feet wet with all of it.”
While the future of Dylan & the Dirt Road Detour is unknown, Bloom said the past will always have a huge influence on its music. On June 24, the band will return to where it all began, North Bend’s Old Settlers Days. Fans in his hometown will continue to hear familiar references in his songs, Bloom said, a feeling summed up in the opening line of “Turn the Radio Up”:
There’s a lot to be said of where you’re from. Man, it’s who you are, what you’ve done.
<<Back to the front page