Friday, October 26, 2012

Somebody You Should Know: Dustin Ennis

Those of us who frequent the live music scene here in Des Moines are aware of the talented musicians that take the stage on any given night. While there are several whom I consider to be very talented, I do have my personal favorites.

One of them is Dustin Ennis, who plays guitar with Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps and/or Jacob County and the Damaged Goods, which essentially is the same band, depending on who is singing.

Dustin Ennis pre-gig at el Bait Shop
(Click this photo and all others to enlarge)
It's a neat trick to be two bands in one, especially when each band incorporates it's own individual sound. While both bands are extremely talented, the Goosebumps have a more traditional noise with songs that conjure images of burnt trees, old dirt roads, and shadowed demons - demons in the sense that we all have scars in our past that occasionally haunt us.

The Damaged Goods on the other hand, are all about the party. They are the personification of ardor, with fast tempos and sledge hammer guitar riffs. They are the standard of which the term "Rock and Roll" should be measured. And while Jimmy Enos and Jacob County have the bands' namesakes, they would be nothing without the grit and electric determination of Dustin Ennis.

On the surface, Dustin is a quiet guy who seems perfectly comfortable as the bands' second guitarist. He is not one for flair, and like the other members in the band, he is virtually without ego. But once the songs start rolling, watch out. From out of nowhere you start hearing these "sounds" that kind of creep up on you. About the time you realize that it's Dustin pulling on the strings on his Fender Telecaster, he is smashing your ears with an all-out sonic assault.

Somewhere, Neil Young is standing with his arms crossed, nodding in approval.

Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps
L-R; Ennis, Jimmy, Dirk, Beth, and Jacob
Dustin grew up in Corning, Iowa, a small town in southwest Iowa that is famous for being the birthplace of Johnny Carson. He picked up a guitar at around the age of ten, and by the time he was in his teens he was playing in a couple of bands with his high school friends. The first one was called Romeo Delight, taken from the song by Van Halen.

"We played Rush and stuff like that," he told me over fish tacos at el Bait Shop Wednesday night. "I was a big metal-head."

The second band he was in, believe it or not was called Nirvana. "This was 1980 through about 1989," he pointed out. They broke up just about the time the "other" band made the name famous.

Dustin moved to Ames in 1989 and met drummer Joe Mcguire, who together formed Toxis O'Grady. Joe and Dustin have remained friends to this day and have collaborated together in several different bands. About 1994, Dustin moved to Des Moines where he and Joe joined Slopsycle.

It was in that band that he met Jacob County, and the lineage was set. Dustin and Jacob have basically been playing together ever since.

Joe, Jacob, and Dustin later played together in Johnny Reeferseed and the High Rollers, and Joe originally sat in with the Goosebumps/Damaged Goods combo, until he eventually joined  Bob Tyler and the Restless Hearts as their drummer. At any given time, any one of these former bands has the ability to resurface unannounced for a spontaneous gig.

Slopsycle in their prime.
L-R; Joe Mcguire, Angela Reeves, Dustin Ennis and Jacob County

"I'm playing as much as I can." Dustin told me. "I am even working on forming my own band."

In addition to playing guitar, he can also play the bass and keyboards and he told me that he just recently bought himself a drum set. "In this new band, I hope to play drums." He noted.

On this night at el Bait however, he was playing guitar with the Goosebumps/Damaged Goods, and he was absolutely on fire. He uses an old '70s style Yamaha tube amp that seems to have found a second life. The sounds Dustin was sending through this dinosaur were incredible... Freakish actually.

Jacob said that he himself has played with the old Yamaha and found it to his disliking. "That amp used to sound like shit but something happened." Jake said with a laugh. "I think he found the volume knob!"

That might be true. As I said, Dustin is quite comfortable playing the proverbial second fiddle. He told me that he likes to keep his ego tampered down. "It allows me to handle myself socially." He explained. The volume knob notwithstanding, Dustin has no trouble handling his business.

Jacob has nothing but praise for his long time friend. "I've been admiring Dusty's playing for almost 15 years now." He told me. "I've been playing with him that long and I still don't know what he's doing. He's well under-rated! The way I describe Dusty's playing is when you're sitting down listening to music and you think you hear stuff but it's really not there... Dusty's playing that shit you think you hear."

Exactly. I couldn't have said it better, and anybody who was there on Wednesday night would be inclined to agree.  The truth be told, Dustin is the glue that holds these bands together.

"Dusty is awesome." Jacob said.

Simply put. Dustin Ennis is certainly somebody you should know.


Pertinent Links:

Stuttrin' Jimmy and the Goosebumps FB Page

Jacob County and the Damaged Goods FB Page



Anonymous said...

Perfect take...careens out of seemingly nowhere...and takes you on a HELLA wild six string ride. Sarah

Boten said...

He is a hell of a guy and a damn fine musician. Havent seen him play bass in a looooong time but he is amazing on the low-end....