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October 2018 - Turn it Up: Dust City Opera

The Dust City Opera is: Paul Hunton (lead vocals, guitar), Clara Byom (accordion, clarinet, keyboard), Danny "The Harp" Garcia (bass, harmonica), Greg Williams (drums), Jared Putnam (lead guitar, vocals), Travis Rourk (trombone, trumpet, vocals), and Sydney Counce (business manager, booking agent)

How did Dust City Opera get together and how did you come up with the name?

I (Paul) volunteered a band, that didn’t exist yet, to open a friend’s CD release show. I had been trying get a band going for some time and I had enough experience and connections to try it again. I had played with Travis in a jazz big band, I knew Greg from our time in Wildewood together, and Danny was in the short-lived Paul Hunton Band some years ago. I was stressing about finding the right guitar player and somehow it occurred to me to ask the bass player from Le Chat Lunatique to play guitar and it worked out beautifully. Then I stumbled on the profile of Clara, who played both clarinet and accordion,

and hoped that she would be cool. The rest is history! As for the name, Dust City Opera was the last incarnation of a band that started out as the Rough Ridge Raiders around 2009 or so. I liked the name and felt like it hadn’t had the chance to live up to its potential so I brought it back to life!

Describe to us Dust City Opera’s sound? Who are your musical inspirations?

At its core, Dust City Opera is folk-rock with horns. Sometimes dark and cheeky, it takes influence from some of my favorite artists, including Tom Waits, the Felice Brothers and the Handsome Family.

What can we expect to see from the band in the near future?

We’re a new band, we’ve just reached our 6-month mark so we have a lot in front of us. We’re hoping to put out our first studio album in early 2019 and we’re continuing to get our name out there by playing the local venue circuit to build our fanbase. We have had the pleasure of playing regularly at Canteen Brewhouse, The Mine Shaft Tavern, Marble Brewery, Tractor Brewing – the whole brewery scene has been very supportive of our music. We’re also working on publishing some videos online to extend our reach outside of the local scene.

Anything else you would like to share about the band?

We encourage folks to come to shows and get to know us! We also have a great online presence and post new content on our Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube pages frequently and we have a pretty sweet website: Our business manager Sydney is a great resource for people who want to get in touch with the band. She can be reached at

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