We don’t mind change. We may grow to love a band’s sound, but if it never evolves, a band can quickly becomes a parody of itself.
The Dough Rollers started off in 2008 as a high-concept conceit cooked up by two celebrity kids. Malcolm Ford (son of Harrison Ford) and Jack Byrne (son of Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin) bonded over the love of old blues music, and started playing together. Their act — two guys in sharp, retro outfits, hair slicked back, etc. — tried to replicate the classic sound of the blues. While the two of them were the core of the group, they often had fiddle-vocalist Julia Tepper as a co-conspirator. (She joined them on their first, and so far only, album, the self-titled disc.)
Few acts could sustain the conceit. Leon Redbone is the only one that springs to mind at the moment, and his whole performing life is in character.
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The Dough Rollers have transformed quite a bit since we last saw them, from an image-conscious duo to a rag-tag bar band.
They still sound good, with Ford continuing as the loquacious leader and primary singer and Byrne as the seemingly shy guitar ace.
They’ve toured with Bob Dylan since we last saw them, and hooked up with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age last year to record some tracks for an EP that it seems never got finished. (For more on the band’s transformation, click here for a good interview on epiphone.com.)
Here’s an unmixed track they recorded with Homme:
Got Me A Bag (Rough Mix) by The Dough Rollers
While the band has been growing and changing, we weren’t convinced while listening to the show at Brooklyn Bowl that it was change for the better. The Dough Rollers are a decent country-rock band, but there seems to be little in their sound or their presentation to set them apart from scores of similar bands.
In some ways, we were much more impressed by the opening acts, Brothers NYC and Grand Rapids, because we had no expectations of them. They were both solid bands.
And the relatively sparse turnout for the Brooklyn Bowl show may have been indicative of The Dough Rollers’ difficulty in holding its fan base and attracting new fans. Clearly, the leaders’ celebrity-at-one-remove only goes so far. The band, however talented, needs something distinctive that it now lacks.