The Dirty Guv'nahs, a Knoxville-based Southern roots rock band, will return to its alma mater for Volapalooza April 25.
UT alumni and band members Justin Hoskins, Aaron Haskins, Cozmo Holloway, Michael Jenkins, Kevin Hyfanis and James Trimble's connection through a mutual friend allowed them to start The Dirty Guv'nahs despite their different ages.
"We all happen to have this one friend whose nickname was 'Dirty Guv'nah,'" Trimble said. "He was the guy that convinced us to form a band and play our very first show. So, because of his convincing, we decided to name our band after him."
That first show was in a parking lot in the city a "long time ago," Trimble said.
The show was part of a fundraiser, and when the event was looking for opening bands, The Dirty Guv'nahs "somehow caught the end of it and got the show."
While similar large scale concerts took place when Trimble attended UT, such as Ben Folds and Robert Randolph, he admits they weren't the size of Volapalooza, a new market for The Dirty Guv'nahs.
"Well, for one, we have never played a big campus concert before," Trimble said. "So, it's kind of hard to believe all the years we've been doing this that we've never played a big concert like this on campus, so we're excited. We all graduated from UT.
"It's a big honor to be a part of y'all's big string concert."
Describing their sound as "upbeat, roots rock n' roll," Trimble cites The Rolling Stones and The Band as "really kind of inspiring us from the beginning."
"We've kind of always loved their music and loved their live shows," Trimble said, "so that's where we draw a lot of inspiration."
Out of the band's collectively original songs, Trimble's hand in writing "Morning Light" off the band's latest release, "Hearts on Fire," has resonated with him.
"I really love that song," he said. "It's one that took a really long time to write, and it just means a lot to me."
This new album marks a shift in the band's sound as it incorporates more pop into the group's songs. This shift was not entirely decided, though, as Trimble believes "that's just what happened."
Currently, The Dirty Guv'nahs are touring throughout the Southeast to promote "Hearts on Fire."
"I think this album has a little more of a pop-rock feel to it, where some of our earlier stuff has been more in the Southern rock category," Trimble said. "This has got a little more of a pop feel to it."
For Trimble and the other members of The Dirty Guv'nahs, playing Volapalooza is a chance to come back to the school that they could not wait to attend as high school students.
"I've always been a big Vols fan, and I wanted to be in Knoxville," Trimble said. "I grew up cheering for the Vols — football primarily — and I always dreamed about going to school there."