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  • Writer's pictureBehind the Song

Frank Migliorelli & The Dirt Nappers

The Dirt Nappers are a variety of seasoned sidemen-Mike Heaphy on steel (Steve Forbert), Dan Weiss on keys (Joan Osborne, Goo Goo Dolls, Duncan Sheik), Thad DeBrock on guitar (Judy Collins, Graham Nash, and Susan Vega) Tony Tino on bass (Asbury Jukes, Gavin DeGraw), and Tommy Deihl on drums.

For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?! sixties-pop-influenced ,hooky. and just-rock-and-roll

(I invented a few words) What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else?) Tell us why.

I guess recording is a passion....I've always been a fan of how bands make records...everyone from the Stones, Who, Paul Weller, Tom Waits, Ry Cooder- and some newer artists-I really like what War on Drugs, Okkerville River and Jim James do in the studio- they all make great sounding records....I do like playing live, but I the overall control and shaping process of taking a song from an idea to a finished recording is the most fun for me....I'm also a bit of a studio gadget geek, so I like that part of the process-----

Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you? I've been doing this for a pretty long time now-over 30 years, so I guess I probably have a bunch of bad habits. Drum sounds are important to me, and getting a good drum and bass lock is key. It isn't hard to do- I tend to just make sure the basics are there...once that is down, adding guitars, pianos, organs and percussion are all just icing to the vocal track/melody...pretty elemental stuff..... and I don't do a ton of takes- no sense in obsessing over perfection....I'm a huge fan of Drumcore- this software for laying down demo drum tracks-that helps with getting the idea out of my skull.......- and having a pretty extensive recording studio is a real luxury for trying out ideas..... Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing? We recently moved up to the Hudson Valley- out of the New York metro area- and we took over the management of the family farm- The farm was being totally mismanaged and was really going to hell in a hand basket, so we started working with an organic farmer and a small livestock farmer and are in the process of converting it to a more ecologically sustainable and friendly operation. We also started a community garden/farm where we grow food and give it away to the community to help feed people- you can find out more at -I think it is disgusting that we have something called "The Food Channel"on TV and people are going hungry in this country every day. We need to feed people. And feed them good food. I don't give a fuck about making money when it comes to feeding people- We just want to figure out how to grow food for the community.... Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why?: A few folks...Tom Waits-just for being a brilliant writer and doing what he wants....Paul Weller for the depth and variety of music he produces...and Lucinda Williams is still cranking out some good songs. I'm not a big hip hop fan, but I totally love anything Anderson. Pak is doing-he's got a great ear for hooks and that guy. Also, i just really miss Strummer Petty and Prince, pretty much every day. That new Prince record that just dropped is pretty damn good. Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it? There have been a few over the past three records- "I've Been On My Knees"-dealing with being a human fck-up, "Someone Else's Dream"-dealing with the sins of the fathers, and of course "Only Here"-which addresses this country's idiotic gun laws.....but on this new record- the kid's album, I wrote "Where The Wild Things Are" to remind people to just keep dreaming and stay young.....I'm a firm believer in the lyric "I hope I die before I get old....." by The Who....I don't plan on getting least mentally, I'll always be twelve years old.....

Tell us about the children's album you just release! “No one had anything to do when the pandemic hit.” said singer/songwriter Frank Migliorelli, “So I thought I’d call up a few friends and see if they wanted to make a rock n’ roll record- for kids.” And when your friends include a bunch of musicians who play with Bruce Springsteen, Hall and Oates, and The Avett Brothers to name a few, you know it is going to be a pretty damn good record.

“I had this idea years ago to do a bunch of songs that were inspired by some pretty great children’s books, and started writing and demoing them. When the pandemic hit, I had all of these ideas and asked my band, The Dirt Nappers if they would be into recording a kids record.”

Sherryl Marshall, who has sung on all of The Dirt Nappers records (and is a member of Buster Poindexter’s Banshees of Blue) suggested reaching out to Charlie Giordano and Soozie Tyrell of Springsteen’s band. “I hadn’t seen those guys in 30 years- we used to hang out in New York clubs back when I was producing bands in the late 80s and early 90s. Since they weren’t out on the road, they were totally game.” Migliorelli then tapped a few other contacts-Porter Carroll, Jr. formally of Atlantic Starr and currently touring with Hall and Oates, and fiddle player extraordinaire Tania Elizabeth from the Avett Brothers.

The songs were inspired by a number of books that Migliorelli encountered over the years. “I used to write kid’s music for a living-publishing music for video games and educational products. Plus I would do “story time” in my kid’s classrooms when they were growing up-which usually was embellished with a guitar and a few songs.” Migliorelli remembers. “I started thinking, every good book deserves a good song, and the idea for this project was born…”

Included in the collection are musical tributes to classics like Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Flat Stanley, and Harry the Dirty Dog. “I also included a few songs about some newer books-I didn’t want it all to fall into the “classic rock” mode.” joked Migliorelli.

In addition to the collection of songs, the band is launching a companion website that highlights activities, features music videos, and resources for kids and parents to explore. The site will launch Sept 15 and will be accessed through “I just want parents and kids to remember how important reading and books are.” Migliorelli said “Hopefully,if this project gets one kid excited about reading, or if one parent takes their kid to the library because of this music, this will be the greatest Dirt Napper record ever.”

Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?

Yea-we're thinking about banging out a 5 or 6 song EP by the end of the year......grown-up music- not more kids stuff yet- but if the children's record does well, I also have a bunch of ideas for songs for a "volume 2"... but I think the next record will be more back to a collection of 3-minute rock and roll tunes that could be tossed into an old wurlitzer in any diner booth somewhere.......during the pandemic i picked up a few new guitar amps and have been getting back to some hard core jangle......

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Children's album website



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