Dash Rip Rock still for Red

Roots rockers Dash Rip Rock

PROVIDED PHOTO BY GARY WADDLE

Dash Rip Rock doesn’t always play rock venues. Sometimes, the New Orleans trio takes its supercharged punk-country-rockabilly repertoire to a listening room.

Such is the case Friday night when the band makes its debut at Red Dragon Listening Room in Baton Rouge. Bill Davis, Dash Rip Rock’s singer-guitarist and leader for the past three decades, is thrilled about the gig.

“It’s such a cool room,” Davis said. “It’s great that Baton Rouge has something like that. New Orleans doesn’t have anything to match it. Everything in New Orleans is a bar. Nobody has figured out that sometimes people just want to sit and get up close and see musicians perform.”

Most Red Dragon shows feature singer-songwriters and folk musicians performing relatively quiet shows. Dash Rip Rock won’t be doing that.

“We’ve played a few listening rooms in the South,” Davis said. “If we start out low energy, low volume, people start stomping. They want it louder and wilder. And in December, it’s always fun to do nutty stuff, because everybody’s in a good mood and celebrating. We’re going to give it our full Dash.”

Booking Dash Rip Rock at the Red Dragon, the venue’s Chris Maxwell admits, is out of the ordinary.

“A curveball can be fun,” Maxwell said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to have a good time.”

Davis’ enthusiasm for the band he launched in 1984 has continuously renewed itself, in part because of the new musicians who’ve entered the ranks through the years.

“We’ve had some personnel changes lately,” Davis said. “The new players lead me down a different road. The same thing’s happening now. I’ve got a couple of guys who light a fire under me.”

Following a fluid membership that’s included original bassist Ned “Hoaky” Hickel and future Cowboy Mouth leader Fred LeBlanc, Davis’ current bandmates are bassist-guitarist Chance Casteel and drummer Wade Hymel.

“I saw Chance playing with bands around the north shore,” Davis said. “He’s played with Gary Clark and Tab Benoit. He’s an amazing blues guitarist. He recently picked up the bass, and he’s tearing that up, too. And there are places in the Dash show now where he picks up a guitar, and we wail on twin Telecasters.”

Hymel also is a multi-instrumentalist who brings a lot of fun to the band. 

“Wade is a great piano player and an amazing guitarist, but he really kills the drums,” Davis said. “He went to Southeastern Louisiana University. He’s like a little Frank Zappa character who’s got a music-history mind.”

Inspired by his latest two bandmates, Davis has written a stack of new songs. He anticipates recording the 18th Dash Rip Rock album next year, a follow-up to 2015’s “Wrongheaded.”

This year is the 30th anniversary year of Dash Rip Rock’s self-titled album debut. Davis made no note of the anniversary.

“We let all of the anniversaries slide by,” he said. “So many bands milk anniversaries. They’ll tour and do a special box set release. I’ve never felt comfortable even trying to plan something like that. There’s no reason for us to do that because we’re in the moment and looking toward the future.”

To the leader of the group, the present still seems as if it’s only a moment away from the 1980s.

“I’m proud to have been so persistent and to have done what I love for this long,” Davis said. “But I still feel like I did in 1987, about the band and the music.

"I’ve got the same energy. Maybe at some point, if the energy flags, I’ll release a retrospective. At the moment, it feels like a real now kind of thing.”


DASH RIP ROCK/WILL WESLEY

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Red Dragon Listening Room, 2401 Florida Blvd., Baton Rouge 

COST: $30, $40

INFO: reddragonlr.com