Dirty & the Perks has risen quickly from playing open mic nights to one of the biggest music festivals in their beloved home province.
Three years ago, almost to the day, Dirty & the Perks played an open mic set at the Capitol Music Club — the first time the four-person band ever played on stage together.
Now they are short days away from playing in the prestigious Ness Creek Music Festival for the first time, and the opportunity is still sinking in.
“Ness is like our big trophy,” Kale Perkin said, one hand on his half-finished pint. “We go through other festivals in the summer, and they’re all wonderful, but this one you’re looking at five times the exposure.”
Dirty & the Perks, consisting of lead singer Jordan Diederichs and siblings Kale, Cory, and Carly Perkin, are a local Saskatoon band with a difficult-to-pin-down musical genre — when they Google themselves they’re described as neo-folk, but Kale said they are more like an alt folk-rock group — and a burgeoning fanbase. In three years, the band has jumped headfirst into the performing scene, playing gigs and festivals around Saskatchewan and Western Canada.
For a group that grew up in Saskatoon and the surrounding area, being part of the music scene in the city is a source of constant enjoyment. Being busy preparing for the biggest festival of their lives wasn’t going to change that.
“We’re playing for fun more than anything else,” Carly said. “We’re people who jam in basements and garages … that’s our background.”
“We already went further than I ever dreamed,” Cory added. “I thought a backyard party would be the coolest thing we could do. Now we’re doing way cooler things. I love it.”
On one of their few free Friday nights during a performance-laden summer, there’s a camaraderie among the band members as they enjoy a drink together — and constantly finish each others’ thoughts as they chat. The group remains busy making music, and they’re working towards another album to come out either in the fall or next spring. But the Ness Creek festival — a massive four-day indie, roots, and folk event in the picturesque wooded Saskatchewan countryside — is a big step forward.
The band had unsuccesfully applied to play at Ness Creek before. When they found out this year that they would be performing at the festival on two different stages, it was a big moment.
“I wish every day was Ness Creek,” Carly said. “It’s about connecting — there’s no better feeling than looking out and seeing people that know the words or pretend they do, because they connect with (the music).”
As they’ve grown as a band and as musicians, the local core of their music — sounding like “prairie kids,” Carly joked — has become more and more important. According to Cory, nobody in Dirty & the Perks really reads music, so most of their music is hashed out as a group. The Perkin siblings did credit Diederichs for the bulk of the lyrics, though — and Diederichs said much of his inspiration comes from his home.
“I’m Saskatchewan born and raised. It sounds stupid, but I feel such a deep connection … the lyrics I write come out of growing up in Saskatchewan,” Diederichs said. “To have an album that’s Saskatchewan-produced, as much as it can be, is important.”
The support from the Saskatoon community is not lost on any of the band’s members. Cory said their first CD release show was the moment he felt the band was on to something special.
“When there’s people as far as you can see … people you’ve never seen in your life, and they’re singing every word to your songs, that’s when I knew,” he said with a laugh.
With two performances at Ness Creek drawing close, Diederichs and the Perkin siblings are ready to show the province some love.
“I don’t even know that we’d still be doing this three years later if we didn’t have the luck to have great friends, who tell their friends,” Diederichs said. “We’ve been so lucky to have this little Saskatoon community rise up around us … it gives you so much drive to keep going and keep working at it.”
Diederichs paused, before raising his glass to his bandmates.
“It’s felt so fulfilling every step of the way.”
Ness Creek Music Festival runs July 18-21.