Brian: On DC Music Rocks, we're shining a spotlight on the great songs artists and incredible people behind the DC region's local music scene. And hailing from Washington DC, Dan Wolff and the Muddy Crows are an exciting up and coming Americana roots rock group specializing in original music, they also maintain an extensive repertoire of covers in a variety of genres and twice the Washington City Paper reader's poll has declared the Muddy Crows as the best original local band for the Washington DC area.
So, it is such an honor to have the winner right here. I mean my God, I first heard about them because of last year's win of the, of course I'm doing the show, and I'm going, "The best original local band? Who are these guys?" Dan's awesome and got back to me and now he's here on the show. So, Dan, thanks for being here, man.
Dan Wolff: Thank you for having me. Yeah, we've been emailing a while.
Brian: Yeah, this is true.
Dan Wolff: Glad the schedules have finally aligned.
Brian: Now, so talk to us about the Muddy Crows and how did all of it come about?
Dan Wolff: I moved down here in 2009, I guess and I started recording some solo stuff with Ambience Recording Studios, Josh in Sail out of Germantown, which is actually how I came to know a lot of the artists. Your show is like a "Who's Who?" Of the DC music scene, which is what you're going for so that makes sense.
I met a number of them through him and I started recording a solo album. As part of doing that solo album I had needed that played instruments that I didn't play or didn't play well enough. I started looking around, the truth is Craigslist was a life saver-
Brian: Get out of here. It's a Craigslist thing, too? I love it. There are so many horror stories that come from that but it's amazing that we get to hear the success stories on the show. If you're listening, there's so many that talk about Craigslist but we should clarify that there's so many bad stories. I love the fact that we share the good stories, they do happen.
Dan Wolff: They do. We had to replace a few people throughout the years DC's an interview train, it's a city and people move and take different career opportunities elsewhere. I think Craigslist has usually come through and got us replacements on short notice. We've had great success. I would agree, it used to be fairy tales and horror stories started with, "Once upon a time," now they start with, "I was on Craigslist,"
Brian: Now, talk about the difference. You've got Dan Wolff and you've got the Muddy Crows. What's the relationship there? How does that work?
Dan Wolff: Sure, the Muddy Crows is sort of formed out of trying to get the people together to record the solo album. Obviously, when we started performing live we needed a name so we can maybe go back to how we named the band. But over time the Muddy Crows became popular and often times there was need to build myself as a solo artist or as a trio and people seemed to think I didn't exist as a musician outside of the band-
Brian: Also, the Muddy Crows are nothing so we had to clarify Dan Wolff is his own artist on occasion-
Dan Wolff: Yeah, so for a while I referred to it as the Muddy Trio to kind of separate what the trio was. We had a few opportunities for duets and I thought that the Muddy Deuce no longer served its purpose as a good name for a band.
Brian: That is really not, that is really not a good name for a band. I'm glad you didn't do that.
Dan Wolff: Duo sounded better at the end.
Brian: Speaking of names, how did the Muddy Crows come around? You teased us with that, what's that story?
Dan Wolff: I think it would have been easier, as some of your other guests said that a name generator would have been its, it's tough to find a band name. Something that everyone can agree on, something that represents what you think you are as artists and something that when you Google brings up your name. That's-
Brian: That's an important thing, absolutely.
Dan Wolff: We went through a lot of iterations of different names and I would say, that we decided that we liked the idea of having a distinctive "the" so we thought about "The Dirty Birds" which is obviously already taken so we thought we'd make it dirtier and a bit birdier, we went to Muddy Crows.
Brian: It's the dirtier, birdier version of the Dirty Birds is the Muddy Crows. Oh my God, it's amazing. It's another tshirt, that's two tshirt ideas on today's show, man. You are on fire, I love it. The dirtier, birdier band.
Dan Wolff: I think on Twitter or some social media does say, "Dirtier than dirt, birdier than birds were the Muddy Crows." I don't know. The true story is we actually, that's an interesting story it's maybe not wholly true. There's a road out in Virginia, I guess people can Google it just to see where it is. I used to drive through a lot of some wealthy looking houses on the way to some training courses I was taking and I saw this, I think it's called Crooked Crow Lane.
I like the idea of Crooked Crow and while we were trying to come up with a band I was trying to write a song called a Crooked Crow, which it never got finished because instead it went to a band name. We like the idea of the Crooked Crows, the distinctive "the" and the adjective, noun. The Crooked Crows, but there was already a Crooked Crow band that does, I think they're heavy metal or something, in DC. So CCB was out, the Crooked Crow Band was out so we tried some other options. I don't know, crooked things and rusty things and we ended up stumbling onto the Muddy Crows and when we Googled it we got zero results from Google and we said, "Great. That's our name."
Brian: Success, there it is. Oh my God, I love it. Talk about you on the personal side, what do you outside of the music stuff?
Dan Wolff: There's life outside of music?
Brian: Yes. You are required to give me at least one. There's more than sleep and music, talk to me man. What's life like?
Dan Wolff: I work a lot, I have a cyber security job in the DC area. I would say that's a high stress day job and then to relieve stress I play and sing music to people.
Brian: Fantastic. How long has the music thing been going on?
Dan Wolff: In the DC area I'd say since 2009 I really started taking it seriously. I think the band, despite the lack of name for a while, probably around 2012, 2013 is when we really started playing a lot more serious. It used to be we'd play short shows here and there and now in the last two years we've probably been doing over, in different configurations, about 100 shows a year. When I say there's not much life outside of music; it's work, music and sleep.
Brian: So wait a minute, are there TV shows? Do you go to the gym at all? There has to be something?
Dan Wolff: I don't go to the gym but I do watch TV if I have to confess to things. It's what everyone would think; it's Game of Thrones, it's-
Brian: Don't say that with shame, there's a lot of people who are listening who would love that.
Dan Wolff: I feel like I should have an answer that everyone's like, "Whoa, that's a show? I never heard of that." No, it's the stuff that you have to keep up with otherwise people spoil it for you the next day in the office.
Brian: Right. It's something that when you're talking to fans it shows. This is something other people are watching. It makes sense to me, I got it. How did music start for you? Were you a childhood prodigy in the music department? Did it start in school? Where did it go?
Dan Wolff: Prodigy is a strong word, I think.
Brian: I won't hold you to that one.
Dan Wolff: My mom has cassette tapes, they used to make in the boom boxes and you'd press record and your kid would sing into them for all sorts of hours as you made them do embarrassing things. Those exist, they haven't seen the light of day in a long time and if that streak continues I think everyone's the better for it. My parents were very big into pushing all four of us into music. We had to take a band instrument in junior high, high school. I played trombone.
Dan Wolff: Yeah, people probably don't expect that and I have not found a way to work it into our act yet.
Brian: There's a lot of awesome brass bands around so if you ever want to pull that out. There might be an opportunity. It's a trend right now.
Dan Wolff: I played trombone for a number of years and it wasn't that I got into college that I really started playing guitar.
Brian: Wow, man. You just knew it was going to be guitar or did you dabble and try out some other ones too? Some people go back and forth; bass, guitar, not sure or was it definitely guitar?
Dan Wolff: I remember as a kid my dad always played banjo. There's be cookouts and things and everyone always thought it was awesome, he was kind of like the showman. I think I was a freshman in high school when he tried to teach me banjo and I realized pretty quickly at the time, 3 Doors Down was big, those kind of things, right? If, you wanted to play songs that people knew-
Brian: You needed to play guitar-
Dan Wolff: Not that I really wanted to play 3 Doors Down necessarily but just the songs you heard on the radio did not feature banjo. If only Mumford & Sons had come out sooner maybe I would have stuck with it but it seemed at the time that there wasn't a big market for a banjo player. I gave it up and didn't play anything again for another four years until I really picked up guitar in college.
Brian: Wow. All right, that's cool. My favorite question to ask on this show is; if you could offer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Dan Wolff: I would say, Google your band name and make sure it doesn't bring up anything embarrassing.
Brian: Yes, search engine optimization results. That is a reality for the bands out there.
Dan Wolff: Also, right off the bat, I've seen this with other bands and it always bothers me. We got lucky, you want to get on every social media you want to have the same band name. For me, go to Dan Wolff music Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or go to the Muddy Crows on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram social media flavor of the week and not to have different URLs for everything because it makes it hard for people to find you. I think that marketing sometimes hurts bands because even I'm trying to find them online at a show and I can't find them. Sometimes it makes it easier.
Brian: When my team does this every week and we're tagging everybody. It's really easy if you get on the roll and you do the Facebook post and you know what it is and then you get the Instagram and it's like, "Oh, now what is it?" And then you got to open another window and you got to Google. Oh man, truly appreciate that. Good idea, same name, which by the way, DC Music Rocks. Same one in all the platforms, I truly appreciate it. It's one of those things.
Now, one more time for those folks who are interested in finding more about following you and finding out more about what you and the Muddy Crows are doing, where do they go?
Dan Wolff: Sure, you can go to Danwolffmusic.com that's Dan with two "Fs", W-O-L-F-F. Danwollfmusic.com or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all your social media flavors of the month, week, day, whatever. At danwolffmusic.
Brian: Got it, and the Muddy Crows are same thing?
Dan Wolff: Muddy Crows are all the same URLs, all the same usernames; @TheMuddyCrows.
Brian: There it is. And the difference between the two really is the Muddy Crows is going to be more of the full band music and Dan Wolff means it's going to be more about you, personally? We connect with you personally?
Dan Wolff: Yeah, circling back to that. Yes, I would say DanWolffmusic will have all the full band shows listed as well but will also include trios and solo shows. If you're looking for a really wild party and you want to make sure who you're going to see when you show up, you should go to themuddycrows.com, look at the schedule, it's on the front page.
Brian: Go to the Muddy Crows for the wild party. I like it. The dirtier, birdier party. Oh my God, I'm telling you man. Please make a shirt, I would totally wear that shirt. That's amazing.