SHERIDAN — Dugan Irby threw his graduation cap in the air with his fellow Big Horn High School graduates Sunday, May 24, 2020.
Approximately 10 months later, Irby and his band will record their first album in Nashville, Tennessee, starting Monday, March 8, 2021.
“All my eggs are in one basket. This is what I do,” Irby said ahead of playing a set with bass player Rod Jost at Mydland Market Thursday evening. “I’m not going to school, so I don’t have a degree to fall back on or anything.
"If it never goes any further than what I’m doing right now — just playing in the same places around town all the time and just having fun with my friends and family — then that would be totally fine with me," he said.
Irby dropped out of the University of Montana in Bozeman a week after beginning while sitting at Bison Union. With a full day of online classes on his schedule that day, he instead researched and called businesses related to his musical career. It was then he had the revelation of needing to pursue his music career full time.
Irby — who picked up a guitar at 12 but started singing well before that — gained popularity around Sheridan County over the last few years, playing at Luminous Brewhouse, graduations, weddings and other gigs around town. Now, he joins other Sheridan County household names like the Munsicks and The Two Tracks with a Nashville record on the way.
Sheridan County fans helped make the dream a reality for Irby and his band with a fundraiser successfully tipping the band past its $12,000 goal to cover production in Tennessee. As a thank-you, the band scheduled a performance at the Big Horn Y May 5 as a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Donors will also receive a private show, band swag or albums, depending on the amount donated.
People pop in and out of the band, depending on availability, but four individuals will record next week. Everyone in the band fronts as something else. Irby, after dropping out of college, works for his father; Jost works part-time at Grace Anglican Church and is a health coach with his wife; drummer Titus Brown works for Cosner Construction; and lead guitar Sam Walker attends the University of Wyoming. Despite the busy lives each leads, they come together to help the lead artist and his self-named band gain recognition in and beyond Sheridan County.
Jost said he and his wife are both ready to follow Irby’s lead, and Jost continues to think of Irby’s needs before the young artist does. For example, Jost purchased duganirby.com and duganirbyband.com online domains for when music, merchandise and promotional material needs to go live.
Right now, Irby and his band remain a novelty off the books of Spotify, iTunes and the like, so live music and the scarce YouTube videos are the only chance for one to listen to the young band’s sound. After time spent at Cabin Studios this weekend, though, that will change.
ASH — ANY INDICATION OF A RELEASE DATE????