Starting off with covering everything from Lady Gaga to No Doubt, to now evolving into their own unique sound, The Dirty Gems are taking the stage to show everyone that they’re ready to let loose.
The pop-rock-soul band started off as part of a school course at Hofstra University in 2007 when Raycee Jones (vocals), Ulises Amaya (bass) and Cam Underhill (synth, vocals) were chosen by Professor Bob Bowen III to create a jazz combo. The college students then formed the cover band, Pump Yo Brakes, with the drumming beats of Jack Goode. After graduation, their love of music continued and they decided to take matters into their own hands and began writing songs with the creative mind of long-time friend and Raycee’s fellow songwriter Mills.
“When your experience is the song and the crowd is feeding off your energy and comes back to shows, it’s a very humbling and very exciting thing,” said Raycee.
Tragedy struck in late 2010 when Bowen, their mentor, passed away from a bike accident. The band performed at the late professor’s student memorial benefit concert, where they met guitarist Gary Heimbauer after watching him perform.
“He [Bowen] brought someone to us again at the event,” said Raycee.
Since then it has been smooth sailing for the band as the group released its debut self-titled EP in 2011. With half of the members from Astoria, The Dirty Gems were semi-finalists in the Battle of the Boroughs for Queens in 2012 and won the Upper East Side Music Festival the same year. Now the band is ready for round two, the Ultimate Battle, taking place on June 21.
Performing from Boston down to Maryland, The Dirty Gems put on a show capturing both fun and emotional aspects. Mills pointed out that audience participation is big at their shows and the feeling is great when they see the reactions. If you’re the lucky lady picked from the crowd by Raycee, your name will be accompanied by clapping and shouting as they perform the aptly-titled “Your Name Here.”
“We tend to be a stadium rock band that plays small bars and venues,” said Mills.
The group has played various venues including Spike Hill and Public Assembly in Brooklyn, and Bowery Electric and Webster Hall in the East Village. Yet The Dirty Gems took the stage at their biggest venue to date on April 28 at the Highline Ballroom.
Their 2nd EP, “Vujà Dé,” will be released in the summer and will include the single “Let Me Loose.”
“It’s just a whole package,” said Raycee. “It’s about the strange feeling that none of this has ever happened before.”