Best Bets: Harrington indie rock group Dutchman flying high with new EP

By Craig Horleman
Posted 1/7/22

Recently relocated to Harrington from New Jersey, when Connor Johnson answered Jake Dutcher’s online ad for a musician back in 2017, he knew there was a musical match. But he could never dream …

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Best Bets: Harrington indie rock group Dutchman flying high with new EP


Recently relocated to Harrington from New Jersey, when Connor Johnson answered Jake Dutcher’s online ad for a musician back in 2017, he knew there was a musical match. But he could never dream that five years later, it would result in four EPs and a band that is starting to make waves on the independent music scene.

Dutchman, a five-piece indie rock group with members hailing from Downstate, recently released the seven-song EP “ Dutchman Vol. 3” and its lead single “Hey Now.”

“I was in a band when I lived in New Jersey, and when I moved down here, I was thinking about doing a solo thing. But then I realized I like people too much. So I went on Craigslist and was just looking through the musician classifieds, and I think I sent out probably like four emails,” said Mr. Johnson, vocalist and lead guitarist for Dutchman.

“Jake was the only one that had a phone number on there and he texted me right back. And I think we talked for about a week just back and forth. His influences were like mine and we talked to just to see if we would have a common thread and what we could do. And about a week after that, he came over and I think we recorded a song the first time we ever hung out.”

Mr. Johnson, and Mr. Dutcher, who lives in Ellendale, would form a musical partnership that would lead to going into the studio in June 2018 for a demo EP called “A Broken Man’s Life.”

After the EP’s release on Feb. 2, 2019, the band was back in the studio building a catalog of original material as well as filling in some essential positions. Rhythm guitarist Garrett Gravatt of Townsend and drummer Yamir “Fez” Alicea-Rivera of Canterbury joined the band.

“With Garrett, he just answered one of our ads. We were looking for another guitar player. And we had gone through a couple auditions with people and I think we were going to stay as just a three-piece with a hired gun. And he ended up texting us at the last minute. I was like, ‘Alright, this is the last one I’m doing and, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just keep our hired guy.’ And we’ve been stuck with him since,” Mr. Johnson said.

In October 2019, Dutchman signed with the recording label Bless Up Records and soon began to work on their back-to-back EPs, “Dutchman Vol. 1” (March 2020), and “Dutchman Vol. 2” (July 2020).

“Fez joined as we were making ‘Volume 1’ so he helped arrange the drums but he didn’t play on it. And Garrett joined about a month before it was released,” Mr. Johnson said.

Both records were birthed parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. Quarantine gave them time to work on the foundation of the albums with new songs and recording techniques, most of which were done in Mr. Johnson’s home studio and Milford’s Electric Fossil, as well as honing in on the new members of the band to further the music’s direction.

To have two albums so close together is a testament to the loads of original songs the band has written.

“We always say, whenever you sit down, if you’re waiting to go do something, pick up a guitar. You never know. ‘Run Run, Run,’ which was the single for ‘Volume One’ — we had like three hours to kill before we were going over to the studio. And I just kind of sat there and wrote it. And we ended up putting it on the record. So it’s very all just kind of like catch as catch can. It’s never really planned,” Mr. Johnson said.

For “Vol. 3,” the band added a fifth member in keyboard player Franco Solorzano, of Georgetown, and they also dropped their label to go completely independent.

“We just wanted to try to build our own front. We’re very hands-on boys. We like to do as much as we can by ourselves,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Johnson said Mr. Solorzano provided the new album’s first single “Hey Now” with just what it needed.

“Franco is the magic wizard on the piano. With ‘Hey, Now,’ we had the whole song written and we had recorded just a basic drum track and bass track and then the rest of it, we came into cut live and just dump it all in one shot,” Mr. Johnson said.

“And Franco just came to hang out with us. I said, ‘You want to play on it?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll figure it out.’ And he came in with that piano riff that you hear on the front. He came up with that first take, first shot. I hit record and he was playing through it. He’s like, ‘What do you think of that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s great. It’s done.’ And he’s like, ‘What? I was just practicing’ and I was like, ‘No, you’re not touching it.’”

In the band’s press release, the song is described as “reminiscent of early Who, effervescent Doors and tangled in a web of Ben Folds Five.”

As a whole, the band draws from a host of influences. There are classic rock sounds of Eric Clapton, The Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival mixed with newer bands like Sublime, Oasis, The Black Keys and Greta Van Fleet. The members also hold an appreciation for reggae, bluegrass, indie rock and the country roots of music.

As the COVID pandemic has put the brakes on doing any extensive live performing, Mr. Johnson said the band is realistic in terms of its place in the music world.

“We are exactly where we expect it to be right now. We try to do as much as we possibly can. And then we also expect the fact that we are going to have to relocate at some point. It’s an eventuality we’ve all just come to accept,” he said.

The new EP “Vol. 3” is available on all of the major streaming platforms.

MGO rescheduled

It was announced Thursday that due to revised COVID-19 guidelines issued by the state, the Jan. 14 Delaware Friends of Folk concert by MGO inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover has been moved to April 8.

Musically Generated Organism, or MGO, is comprised of Mikel Campbell, George Harvey and Ossi Becke. The three members share common musical roots with influences spanning traditional folk and blues to pop and punk.

MGO puts forth a unique blend of Americana music. Mr. Campbell sings and plays bouzouki and bass, Mr. Harvey sings and plays guitar and bass while Mr. Becke plays a variety of hand drums and percussion.

The free one-hour performance will still begin at 7:30 pm. Call 302-992-8080 to reserve your seat.

These events are supported by a grant from the Kent County Fund for the Arts.

Fort DuPont tour

The Fort DuPont Redevelopment and Preservation Corp. recently released a video and virtual tour on the history and landscape of Fort DuPont.

This virtual museum experience transcends the limitations of space and time and allows people to experience Fort DuPont in an entirely new way.

The video provides an in-depth background of the community’s history and a look into its present and future. The virtual tour actually takes that a step further and allows the viewer to traverse the area, offering 360-degree views of the natural settings and buildings, stopping wherever they want to get more detailed information on buildings through narrative, images and the eyes of one resident who lived at the Fort during World War II.

Viewers can even walk through buildings and experience the spaces in their current conditions. Buildings such as the historic theater, mortar bunker, commanding officers quarters and homes on Officers Row are now open to the public through this virtual platform.

“Preservation and education is an important part of our mission,” according to Jeffrey Randol, executive director of the Fort DuPont Redevelopment and Preservation Corporation.

“There is so much to learn and appreciate about Fort DuPont. We’ve worked hard to provide this self-directed platform so the public can experience the beauty and history of the area, all from their computer or phone.”

You can experience the virtual tour on Fort DuPont’s website. The video can be viewed on YouTube.

Artist grants

In fiscal year 2021, the Delaware Division of the Arts received $753,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts through the American Rescue Plan Act. With this award, the division developed two short-term grant opportunities to help secure jobs and support Delaware’s nonprofit arts organizations and artists that add value to the state’s economy and bolster the creative life of communities. ARP funds have been awarded to 36 arts organizations and 13 individual artists.

ARP Organization Grants ranged in size from $5,000 to $45,000 and were only available to recipients of General Operating Support in the past three years (FY19, FY20, FY21).

The grants were for expenses to support salaried employees, fees for artists and/or contractual personnel, facility costs such as rent and utilities and marketing expenses incurred between Dec. 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

ARP Individual Artist Grants provided up to $15,000 to support eligible Delaware artists in the production and presentation of community-focused artistic projects across disciplines through June 30, 2022. Examples of eligible projects included providing presentations (art exhibitions, performances, readings, concerts), workshops and the creation of artwork with tangible outcomes (such as a specific community impact or raising awareness of the arts).

“These relief funds are critical to arts organizations and their ongoing service to the community,” said Jessica Ball, director of the Division of the Arts.

Now Showing

New in theaters this weekend is Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz in the action film “The 355.”

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