Concert at Bright Box

Posted: December 20, 2013

The Winchester Star

Burning Dirty Band
Viva la Muerte

Winchester — The Burning Dirty Band has done the bar band thing.

The challenge now for the musicians who make up the local band is to be more than just four guys on a stage playing music, said bassist Ben Whitlock of Winchester.

“We have tried to do staging for our shows and make it more of an event for the audience,” he said. “We certainly try to have a distinctive look up there.”

He leaves it up to audience members to decide whether the group has succeeded when the band performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St. Viva la Muerte will open for the group.

Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

The Burning Dirty Band is an indie rock band with influences ranging from the Beatles to Pink Floyd to David Bowie, but the emphasis has always been on original music, Whitlock said.

The primary songwriter for the group is Cory Garman of Clarke County, who also performs lead vocals and plays guitar. Other members are Jereme Steele of Winchester on keyboard and synthesizer and Josh Ball of Clarke County on drums.

The band likes that they provide a different blend of music, but doing that creates its own hurdles to get over, Whitlock said.

“When you do original music, one of the challenges is you are asking people to invest emotionally in you,” he said. “When you are doing covers, you almost take yourself out of the equation.”

One of the band’s original songs is “Frozen Lately,” a rock tune with “funky bass line and danceable groove,” he said. “Lyrically it is a song about frustration and feeling unappreciated.”

Along the same line, “Everybody’s Got a Limit” is another song about frustration and dissatisfaction. It started as a nice blues riff and grew with a little bit of punk aggression, he said.

The group has released three full-length albums and several singles and is back in the studio recording new songs, he said.

Opening for the group is Viva la Muerte, a cross between a country and a jam band, said Matt Armstrong of Greensboro, N.C., who does vocals, rhythm guitar and songwriting.

Armstrong, who has long been a fan of both genres, said it has been a “struggle as a writer to reconcile the two poles of expression” but he feels the different music types can learn from each other.

He likes country ballads but likes the darker side of life that some jam music can offer, said Armstrong, who grew up in Winchester and graduated from Sherando High School in 1995. His father, Dr. John H. Armstrong, lives in Winchester.

The six-member group released its first album in August, “All the Birds.” It includes songs such as “Obscuro,” which Armstrong created in the back of a rental car outside of a New Mexico town while on a cross country trip.

It was inspired by the desert, a sandstorm, and the end of a relationship, he said. “It has a southwestern desert, psychedelic quality. It was the first song I ever wrote.”

Another song, “Bootleggers,” was inspired by an adult neighbor who Armstrong thought he knew but found out later she had a much deeper history than he knew. The love of her life was a bootlegger’s son from the wrong side of the tracks, but she didn’t end up with him.

“The song is about the way a first love can haunt a life and the way real love never goes away,” he said.


Bright Box Theater, 15 N. Loudoun St., will have a concert featuring the Burning Dirty Band and opening act Viva la Muerte at 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

For more information, contact 540-665-2878 or go to

— Contact Laura McFarland at