A Fellowship of Bro’s��

Charleston City Paper | October 13, 2005
For more than two years, the local acoustic duo — David Dunning, 38, and Donnie Polk, 32 — have entertained audiences in different settings with energetic renditions of songs pulled from a vast catalog of rock, country, and metal classics. They currently stand as one of the most popular bar-rock acts in town — especially in their home digs East of the Cooper.

Dunning and Polk are typical scene veterans who initially gained experience during Charleston’s early ’90s scene. Dunning played for years in roots-rock band Live Bait before going solo in 2001, while Polk played in various rock bands, including Dr. Buzzard (the band into which Live Bait gradually morphed). Each play acoustic guitars and take turns singing lead and harmony on the microphones.

“We both started playing in Plane Jane around ’02 and that’s about the time the Diesel Brothers started playing,” remembers Dunning.

“It was a one-night-a-week thing when it started,” adds Polk. “It was just on off nights from Plane Jane. We started getting more gigs and it snowballed from there. It was a lot less work and hassle for a lot more money [laughs]. We made a list of more than 200 songs that we knew between us. We learned each others list pretty easily. If we drink enough, we’ll do anything!”

What started as a loose gig quickly tightened up. On stage nowadays, the duo throw in more than few musical curve balls — kickin’ the ’80s metal hits and classic hard rock tunes, then swerving to a cheesy Top 40 ballad, then on back to a redneck honky-tonk anthem. Sometimes, they nail a tune and deliver it exactly note-for-note. Other times, they completely reconstruct a tune and offer it with a new rhythmic pattern and vocal harmony. On occasions, they grinningly butcher a wild request from the crowd for a verse or two before jumping back on track with an original song.

The Brothers recently released a self-titled, 10-song album of twangy original songs. Recorded at Fusion 5 Studio, both songwriters took turns performing the bass and drum tracks during the sessions. Guest performers include pedal steel and dobro player Jay Jackson, slide guitarist Dale Baker, and pianist Travis Allison. After the limited release of the album (at shows mostly), the duo signed a publishing deal with the Nashville-based agency Deep South Entertainment and recently released the disc to local record shops.

“I think a lot of people expected us to put out a rock album, sort of like the sets we play live, but I’ve been writing country songs for years,” says Polk. “We’re known as a local cover band, but really we’re both professional songwriters who happen to play covers. You know, a lot of younger bands who skip the ‘cover band’ phase most garage bands went through when they started out can’t make past a few years. They don’t have the experience and know-how to continue and move on … unlike us [laughs].”��

Charleston City Paper

Founded in 1997, the locally owned and operated City Paper is Charleston's only weekly alternative newspaper and the second-largest publication in the metro Charleston area. Reaching a strong mix of active, affluent locals and tourists, the City Paper has thrived...
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