Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

The Inventors of Bluecore

Steve Penhollow

Whatzup Features Writer

Published June 1, 2017

Heads Up! This article is 5 years old.

Music that combines country and hip-hop calls to mind that old Reese’s commercial where a guy walking down the sidewalk eating a candy bar collided with a guy walking down the street eating out of an open jar of peanut butter.

Do not ask why a guy would walk down the street eating out of an open jar of peanut butter. It’s just what everybody did back then, you young whippersnappers.

The people in those commercials always decided by the end that they loved the combo, but that isn’t always how country-rap is received.

Just ask Dusty “Tex” Dahlgren, one-half of the duo known as Moonshine Bandits who perform a free show at Brandt’s Harley Davidson in Warsaw on July 2.

In a phone interview, Dahlgren said the band’s early performances could be contentious.

“Oh man,” he said. ” I can remember our first few shows. We were booed. We were booed off the stage. They would listen to the sound and wait ’til it was over and then, all of a sudden, they’re first in line asking for autographs. That really did happen. Obviously, there were a lot of obstacles we lived through.”

In truth, Dahlgren isn’t too fond of the country-rap label either. And he is even less fond of “hick-hop,” that possibly prerogative tag that was undoubtedly cooked up by a music industry executive or music journalist (back when we had music industry executives and music journalists – and a music industry).

Dahlgren said he grew up listening to West Coast rap, and his main bandmate, Brett “Bird” Brooks, grew up singing in church. They both grew up loving country.

Despite the fact that they have successfully combined all those influences into a confident sound, however, Dahlgren said that he doesn’t want the Moonshine Bandits to be pigeonholed.

Tex and Bird have, therefore, come up with their own term for the music they perform: blucore.

“It stands for ‘blue collar rebel music,'” Dahlgren said.

You may intensely dislike one or both of the genres that mainly make up “blucore,” but you can’t deny that Tex and Bird’s music is a lot of fun.

Every effort the Moonshine Bandits have made on their own behalf since forming in 2003 has been of the grass-roots variety, and one of the more delectable fruits of those labors ripened last year.

The duo was able to purchase a tour bus.

“It was huge for us,” Dahlgren said. “We started off touring in a Ford 150 pickup across America. All of our merchandise is in the back and, at night, you have to load all of the merchandise into the hotel room just so it doesn’t get stolen and then load it back into the truck in the morning. We went from that to a 1982 van all the way up the ladder.”

Dahlgren said the band’s bus has “12 bunks, a flat screen, a PlayStation – everything you can think of.

“Unfortunately, ” he said, “it just broke down on us in Arizona. The problem with owning a bus is that it’s worse than owning a boat.”

Dahlgren said the band’s fans, called Shiners, are passionate. Sometimes bewilderingly passionate.

There’s a mug shot floating around the web of a guy with a black eye and a Moonshine Bandits tattoo on his forehead. A Shiner with a shiner.

“It is crazy what happens,” Dahlgren said, laughing. “It’s hard to explain.”

Dahlgren said the band thinks of its fans as family.

“We call them family because they’re the reason why we’re going up the ladder,” he said. ‘When we go out after the show, we pride ourselves on meeting the family. We don’t stay on our bus. We go out there and we hear their stories. Because that’s inspiring for our songwriting.”

Asked about the future of the band, Dahlgren goes far-flung. He said he thinks about legacy.

“When we’re gone and this thing really takes off for some of the younger guys,” he said, “I would just like to be recognized as, you know, ‘Hey, this is one of the guys from the West Coast that started this movement and it’s still around.'”

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