Kootenay musicians Sean Cameron and Peter Reed were “mucking around with some songs” while working together in the forestry industry when they were first invited to perform at the Tiny Lights Festival in 2013. They needed to pick a band name in a hurry.
“It was a bit of an unconscious thing, I think, but there’s an artist I love named Chris Whitley and he had this short career but he was very honest in his work. He really distanced himself from major labels. His breakout album was called Dirt Floor,” Reed told the Star, describing how they came up with their moniker.
“On the other side of the coin, there’s something about a dirt floor in a cabin that’s humble, honest, back to roots, and I think that sums us up in a way.”
Since those early days in the woods, Dirt Floors’ ranks have swelled to five. The other three members are Nate Stilwell, Jesse Lee and Jake Cataford. And within a year of getting together the group had earned a Kootenay Music Award.
“The last time we played, though, was July 2014. This is a real passion project for us. For the hours we put in to practice and perform, we don’t get paid that much. But what brought us together was a lot of people were moved by this band and told us we delivered an honest, folk-infused roots music that really resonated.”
So he’s thrilled they’ll be once again performing for Nelson, this time at Spiritbar as the openers for Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers. He said they’ve been compared to everyone from Ryan Adams to The Band.
“Sean and I love song-writing, and it’s songwriting that initially drew us together. We put a lot of time and effort into trying to be as honest as we can be about how we’re feeling about what’s happening in the world—but then we also sing about the possibility that there’s vampires.”
One of the songs they’ll play Friday is called “Lighthouse” and was written by Cameron.
“It’s lyrically sparse, but it has this groove to it and an overall depth that resonates with me. It’s very ethereal and rich-sounding, and it takes you to different places emotionally.”
The song celebrates those people in our lives we depend on.
“Everyone has that lighthouse person, whether it’s family, a loved one, a child…Whoever it may be.”
Reed is thrilled to be sharing the stage with Caplan.
“His work is in a similar vein to us, he’s got that emotional depth to his song-writing. Our promoter Paul Hinrichs told us Ben Caplan asked specifically to have us open for him—maybe he was just trying to convince us to play—but we were stoked when we heard that.”
Reed was effusive about the local support they’ve received, especially because he feels much of the local music scene is often dominated by electronica.
“We’re really happy people like to come out and support organic live music. When the world ends and electricity goes and we’re all like Kevin Costner in Waterworld, that one man with the guitar by the campfire—he’ll be the important guy again. He’s the messenger.”
The Spiritbar show is at 9 p.m. on Oct. 23.