This young group emerged out of the Portland music scene in the mid- to late '90s, performing traditional string band music influenced by artists such as Charlie Poole, Clarence Ashley, Bill Monroe, and Uncle Dave Macon. It was an era when many famous country artists were considered over-the-hill by big labels, meaning performers such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton were forced to record on indie labels, sometimes companies associated with punk music. The Dickel Brothers also went with this seemingly unlikely alliance, putting out their first CD on Empty records, a small label specializing in punk rock. One might not imagine that bicycle messengers might make up a hefty portion of either audience, but this was what crossed the mind of one of the label's owners when he saw the Dickels going over like gangbusters in a little bar packed with an audience consisting mostly the aforementioned peddling messengers. The label already felt this was a big part of the audience for their punk releases, so why not sell them old-time music, since they seemed to like it already? The hunch paid off, as the group's first release in 1999 did well enough to prompt the label to schedule a follow up the next year. Old-time music is full of family bands, but in the case of the Dickels the relationship is simply a gimmick, and the players are keeping their real names and real relationships something of a secret. The members of the group were drawn to old-time music because of its intense energy and sincere passion, as opposed to the rock music they had grown up listening to. The group started out as a duo, slowly adding and subtracting members until settling on a quintet lineup. All the members are in their mid-twenties and are enthusiastic collectors of old-time music.
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