A long time ago (well, 1992), in a basement far, far away (Fredericksburg, VA to be exact), three guys got together to learn a couple dixieland tunes for a club date. It was during this rehearsal that the idea for the Dixie Power Trio was born. A dixieland band that played rock and roll! Andy Kochenour provided the steady bass lines on his tuba, Zack Smith churned out the melodies on his cornet, and Bert Carlson added rhythm banjo and vocals in the original incarnation of the group, which soon added Byron McWilliams to provide drum grooves. After a trip to the local pawn shop, Zack was soon playing accordion, washboard, and harmonica with the Dixie Power Trio, taking on the role of resident multi-instrumentalist. (He now endorses Hohner Blues Harps and Tee Don’s are the “Official Rubboards of the Dixie Power Trio”.)
The band recorded their first CD Out of Control a year later and started receiving national attention through airplay on NPR’s All Things Considered while becoming notorious for their takes on “Stairway to Heaven” and “Freebird.” Soon, the group was out touring the country, recording their sophomore CD, Greetings From Gumboville, and trying to cope with the inevitable band tension that came with the increased workload. Byron eventually dropped out to spend more time with his three beautiful children (all girls!), and Ryan Diehl came aboard to man the drum chair. After seven years of playing “Staiway to Heaven” nightly and not a lot of progress towards the goal of fame and fortune, the DPT decided it was time to start shifting away from the goofy nature of their early repertoire and time to start playing the music it was most comfortable with. Goodbye Stairway, Freebird, Dueling Banjos– hello zydeco, jazz, and originals. It was during this period that Bert left to pursue his wilderness living dreams, and guitar virtuoso Wayne Wilkinson joined the group.
Soon the band was in the studio laying down its third CD Ain’t My Fault, and beginning the process of reintroducing itself to the public. After a number of well-received performances at venues such as the Kennedy Center (D.C.) and the Krannert Center (IL), and with newfound popularity on the web, the DPT had begun establishing itself as the East Coast’s premier New Orleans music ensemble. It was also during this time that the group began occasionally doing performances as the New Line Brass Band, with its beefed up front line (check out their CD Bad Spuds!) A few more changes were in store as Ryan departed for greener pastures and the band welcomed back Byron–who was now much more available with his children starting school. Wayne decided to spend more time honoring his spiritual calling, which led to the entrance of Gantt Kushner into the group. The boys recorded their first live CD, Let’s All Go Down To New Orleans, a year later.
In 2004, Wayne Wilkinson rejoined the line-up and played on two more CD’s: “The Virgil Sessions” and “Zydeco Dog”. Wayne retired to Colorado in 2008, which led to the entrance of new guitarist Chuck Underwood, who has injected his own unique blues/jazz style into the always-evolving Dixie Power Trio sound.
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