Behind the Beat: Sympathy For the Devil

Though he’s not a Bible thumper in the traditional sense, Valley musician Daniel Richards (aka Reverend Dan) still wants to help others find the path to enlightenment. Instead of spreading his gospel from behind the pulpit in a church, Richards does his preaching from the stage as leader of the Springfield band Reverend Dan and the Dirty Catechism.

“The name Dirty Catechism comes from the music we are performing,” Richards says. “All the tunes are about sinning as a way to find the true path of enlightenment.”

With song titles like “Who Wants To Get Saved” and “Pass The Plate,” Richards (guitar, vocals) along with his compatriots—Nik Simonik, aka C Notes (keys, vocals), Mike “Coop” Cooper (bass, vocals) and Seth James Craig (drums)—melds a raucous blend of rockabilly, jazz, folk, country music and more. The latter track even features a tasty bit of accordion playing, and wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a film featuring Tom Waits as a high-stepping devil complete with cane and bowler hat.

Coincidently, with tunes straddling the line between sculptured song-craft and sublime spectacle, Reverend Dan and the Dirty Catechism have also been known to turn in wild live shows that audiences shouldn’t miss or even be tardy for.

Richards says, “What we do is an hour-long rock opera or musical sermon about the hypocrisy of the church and the virtues of the seven deadly sins. Well, sixe_SEmDwe never got around to writing a song about sloth. So it’s a whole piece of music. We don’t stop and chat between songs, and each song forwards the entire story. So have a smoke before we go on, and stay for the whole thing.”

As for how the group actually creates its borderline blasphemous material, Richards notes that even the most skeletal of ideas often gets completely transformed when worked on by the band as a whole.

“I bring songs to practice like undressed mannequinse_SEmDjust basic chords, words and melody,” he says. “Then the rest of the band gets their hands on them and dresses them up. It’s a great way to work for me, because it will often change the feel or even the meaning of the songs.”

While the group is currently in the mixing stage of a recording project, Richards isn’t sure what the rest of the future holds after that particular task is completed. In the meantime, he and the rest of the Dirty Catechism will continue gigging as much as possible throughout Western Massachusetts and show up frequently to support concerts by other performers.

“Support live local original music,” Richards says. “If you don’t go to gigs, clubs will stop having bands. It’s basic economics of supply and demand. If you are in a band, go to a show when you aren’t playing. It’s how to build a scene.”•

For more information on Reverend Dan and the Dirty Catechism, please visit and

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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