Of all the musicians who’ve professed their love for Central Oregon in an interview with The Bulletin, very few, if any, have sounded as genuinely sincere as Dan Lotti of Dangermuffin.
The trio from Folly Beach, S.C., spent nearly a week here almost exactly a year ago, playing a free show at Les Schwab Amphitheater and three nights at McMenamins Old St. Francis School.
At the very least, Lotti fell in love.
“We’ve been to a number of places, and ... Bend is like No. 1 on my list. I’m not (kidding),” he said in a recent telephone interview from a tour van somewhere between his hometown and Arlington, Va. “People say, ‘How’s your travels going? What’s the coolest place you’ve been?’ And it’s like, ‘Bend.’
“It’s a phenomenal place,” he said, citing the town’s moderate size and location where the desert meets the mountains.
Another of Bend’s attributes that should appeal to Lotti and his band mates Steven Sandifer and Mike Sivilli: Dangermuffin is Bend’s kind of band.
One spin through the group’s most recent album — 2010’s “Moonscapes” — reveals layers of sounds that are right up the alley of the average concert-going Bendite. First and foremost, there’s Dangermuffin’s omnivorous style, which is generally relaxed and rootsy, with regular forays into reggae, bluegrass, funk and jam-band psychedelica.
From that foundation, the band aims high, using sublimely spacey guitar solos and taut three-part harmonies as building blocks. Add in the salty breeze that blows across everything Dangermuffin does, and you have a sound and aesthetic that’s highly likeable and dance-floor friendly.
The title track of “Moonscapes” is especially magnetic. (Hear it at www.dangermuffinmusic.com.)
The main guitar riff sounds like a ride on an intergalactic roller coaster, while the groove feels like it was taken straight from a moonlit front-porch jam. By the time the rippling guitar solo blasts off, you’ll swear you’ve been magically, mentally transported to South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
That’s as natural a feeling as Folly Beach’s “different vibe” and “unique energy,” Lotti said.
“It’s inevitable. When we’re home, those are the breezes that are coming in through the front door,” he said. “I think (where we’re from) has these really subtle elements that are — as songwriters and as a band writing songs — just kind of unavoidable. It ends up being this thing that we couldn’t get away from even if we tried.”
Lotti and Sivilli have been playing around Folly Beach since about 2005, and they brought Sandifer into the fold in 2008. The band released two twangier albums, but picked up momentum when SiriusXM satellite radio started playing a couple of “Moonscapes” songs on its Jam On and Outlaw Country stations.
“We’ll go to brand new markets for us and there will already be a good number of people at the shows simply because they heard us on Sirius Jam On,” Lotti said.
As a result, Dangermuffin is walking a well-worn line between being “just” a rock ’n’ roll band and being tagged a jam band. Unlike so many acts that reject it, Lotti is comfortable with the label.
“We feel like it’s just really eclectic music, and I think sometimes we get grouped in with the jam thing, simply because of the eclecticism,” he said. “We don’t mind being included in the jam-band conversation, because I think what you find there within that community are true music fans.
“Those are the kind of people we want to reach out to and connect with anyway, so we don’t really look at the jam-band thing as being a four-letter word,” he continued. “We’re happy to just be a part of that community, and if that’s where we’re finding a niche, then we’ll take it.”
After all, it’s a long way from South Carolina to one of Lotti’s favorite spots, Central Oregon. And it takes fans and money to make the trip.
“All our goals have ever been are just to subsist and keep creating and keep finding the songs,” he said. “We think there’s something for everybody in what we’re doing, and that’s definitely an exciting thing.”