March 18, 2020. Dirt Reynolds frontman Chris Watts walked out of his Gatlinburg, TN, motel room to a ghost town. It was his birthday, and the morning after his last live performance before the entire country would quarantine for COVID-19. A deadly EF-2 tornado ravaged his East Nashville community just two weeks prior.
With touring on an indefinite hiatus, Dirt Reynolds decided to make a record.
Nashville-based Dirt Reynolds released their debut album Scalawag on July 26, 2020. Scalawag combines raucous rock ’n’ roll and blistering twang with broke-but-not-broken characters to illustrate the truth and the lies the American South tells to itself and others.
Americana Highways calls Scalawag “an earnest glimpse of life for those who are marginalized because they don’t fit the portrait of the American dream.” Disciples of Sound calls the album “a new southern revolution.”
Watts recently gave up performing under his own name to avoid web searches pointing to the now infamous Colorado murderer. He met Dirt Reynolds co-founder Jason Paradise at a Drive-By Truckers tribute show in East Nashville and formed the band in late 2019.
“Watts and his band channel his wild life experiences into twangy alt-country that is also socially conscious during a time when we sure do need more Southerners speaking out against hate and bigotry,” says Glide Magazine.
A former troublemaker raised in central Louisiana, Watts was stabbed in a bar and shot in the New Orleans Super Dome while on Hurricane Katrina duty for the Louisiana National Guard.
His love of language and fascination with Louisiana politics led him to college degrees in journalism and political science. As a childhood fan of Mark Twain, he grew to love the writers who defined The South, from Eudora Welty to Harry Crews.
As a solo performer Watts has shared stages with artists ranging from Sammy Kershaw to Gin Blossoms to Snoop Dogg, and has been featured in No Depression and American Songwriter.
Scalawag is available everywhere music is sold. The new single Battleship Chains is due out May 21, 2021.