Behind the Beat: Dig and Be Dug

After a cursory glance at the Facebook page for Holyoke band Hot Dirt, one is taken by the group’s lack of prejudice when it comes to musical influences and artists it likes to listen to. John Coltrane, Tool and The Wu-Tang Clan are just a few of the choices listed under the heading “Influences.” But even more telling are the few short words written in the section titled “Artists We Also Like.” “All of em [sic],” the band has jotted down. And listeners can hear that non-discriminatory aesthetic when listening to Hot Dirt’s music.

Featuring Jeff Gilmartin (guitar), Brittany Brideau (guitar), Josh Daniel (drums) and Zach Scoble (bass), Hot Dirt formed in September of 2011 after its current members had played together in a variety of formations while students at Holyoke Community College.

“Our first lineup included saxophonist Nich Livingstone,” says Scoble. “Since becoming a four-piece, we have incorporated vocals, and we are currently working with two trombonists. The music grows as we grow as musicians and individuals. ”

Though as difficult to describe as it is to name, the groove the group cultivates on tracks like “The Waffle Stomp” and “Panda Killer Killer,” both available on the band’s The Flaying Mantis EP, is at times a heady mix of jazz, funk and progressive rock featuring frequent time signature shifts and stop-start rhythms. The latter song also includes vocals contributed by Brideau, who sings, “We began this battle on opposite sides of a war/ though we are in the same army, your reason to fight I abhor.”

Scoble says, “I would describe our sound as a highly personal composite of our musical personalities and interests. It involves both composition and improvisation. In the realm of adjectives, I would use the term ‘raw.’”

Each member of Hot Dirt contributes to the songwriting for the band. While ideas are hashed out together, everyone is responsible for his or her own parts. And the group is already itching to return to the studio to record more material.

“Being in this band is a constant inspiration to create, and I think I would feel incomplete without it,” says Scoble. “As soon as we have the funds we will be returning to Northfire Recording Studio, where our first EP was recorded, to record the follow-up. We are currently writing new material with an augmented lineup.”

He adds, “Our recent EP The Flaying Mantis is available for download and is streaming at It is a name-your-price download, and any donations will help us record, play shows, or get merch.”•

For more information on Hot Dirt please visit and

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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