Old buddies reunite for more musical mischief and an unanticipated album

You don’t expect to get new music from an act that has produced nothing since its one and only album over two decades ago. But Danny & Dusty, or Dan Stuart and Steve Wynn – frontmen of 80s cult acts Green On Red and the Dream Syndicate respectively – who had temporarily joined forces for a hastily recorded side project back in 1985, have taken fans by surprise. Just days ago, the duo, backed by a band that includes a couple of holdovers from that first effort, a mostly fun-and-booze soaked, saloon-type country-rock album aptly titled «The Lost Weekend,» played a surprise card with the release of a follow-up, «Cast Iron Soul.» Danny & Dusty have also scheduled an 11-date European tour which begins tonight in Belgium and passes through Greece for two shows later this week. Since the breakups of their old bands, fringe rock acts from Los Angeles that managed to deliver spirited, raw-sounding rock music at a time when emphasis on overproduction often seemed to come at the cost of authenticity, Stuart and Wynn have worked at contrasting rates. Stuart’s activity, which recently included a Green On Red reunion tour whose itinerary brought the band to Athens for an appearance last summer at the annual Rockwave Festival, has remained subdued, if not stalled, for years. Not long after Green On Red put out their final album in the early 90s, Stuart, whose boozy-sounding material seemed to reflect his drunken-bum persona, traded the madness for a quieter life, which included a stint in Spain. Wynn, on the other hand, has maintained a frenetic pace that has run at a rate of about one solo album a year, plus the ensuing tours, since the Dream Syndicate’s final studio album, 1989’s «Ghost Stories.» The busy rocker’s whirlwind of activity also includes side project work as Gutterball, an American indie supergroup that released two spontaneously made albums in the previous decade with Wynn as the frontman. Resembling the Danny & Dusty project’s work ethic, both Gutterball albums – 1993’s self-titled debut and 1995’s «Weasel» – were recorded swiftly with minimal fuss by reunited friends. Tragically, one of these, Gutterball’s Bryan Harvey, who led the House of Freaks in the 80s, was murdered along with his wife and two children at his Richmond home in Virginia on New Year’s Day last year. Wynn has not let time’s burden affect his songwriting. Despite the years and frequency of releases, the enduring artist’s work has sustained an effervescent quality. Stuart and Wynn apparently decided to go ahead with a second Danny & Dusty release after Wynn, grounded by a broken ankle, was paid a morale-boosting visit by his old pal Stuart at his flat in New York City, where both musicians now reside. The jovial, even mischievous, spirit that characterized much of the duo’s first album, and which resurfaces on the brand-new follow-up, was not missing from Stuart and Wynn’s comments in an e-mail interview ahead of their upcoming Greek shows. «I would say without Steve’s broken ankle the album wouldn’t have been made. Of course, I’m the one that pushed him down the stairs,» responded Stuart when the pair were asked to comment on the apparent link between Wynn’s injury and «Cast Iron Soul.» «You’ll be hearing from my lawyer. Yeah, the broken ankle slowed me down and made me less of a moving target. And it helped that Dan and I live in the same city again,» Wynn continued. The new album includes backing from guitarist Stephen McCarthy [Long Ryders, Gutterball] and all-rounder Chris Cacavas [Green On Red], who both played on the first Danny & Dusty release over 20 years ago. They were joined for this surprise Danny & Dusty outing by drummer Johnny Hott [House of Freaks, Gutterball, Sparklehorse] and Bob Rupe [Silos, Cracker, Gutterball]. True to its predecessor, «Cast Iron Soul» was recorded quickly. «We had a great band just like the first time. They put in all the work when they were teenagers, jamming along to Neil Young records in their bedrooms. That kind of ancient preparation gives us the luxury of speedy recording sessions,» remarked Wynn. «We did take our time writing it, but most of the songs are first and second takes… same as the first one,» added Stuart. Wynn, who had gone into the «The Lost Weekend» sessions back in the mid-80s not long after spending about six months making the Dream Syndicate’s second album, «The Medicine Show» – the LA band’s major-label debut – admitted feeling relieved when he met up with Stuart and friends for exuberant jamming that led to the Danny & Dusty debut. «It was almost a revelation to do one or two takes and be able to say ‘Yep, we got it’ and know that we were right,» Wynn noted. When asked about the chances of a third Danny & Dusty album, Stuart quipped, «We’ll have to go to Delphi and ask the Oracle,» while Wynn, complementing his buddy, added, «Or go to Congee Village [bar-restaurant] in Chinatown and crack open a few fortune cookies.» Danny & Dusty: Friday, Mylos Club, Thessaloniki; Saturday, Fuzz Live Music Club, Athens.

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