Introducing Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club (Conor Oberst & Friends)

As 2015 was coming to a close, Conor Oberst, on a break from touring and preparing for a frigid Nebraska winter, got hooked on an old vinyl record belonging to his housemate, the solo artist Miwi La LupaThem Old Country Songs, a 1972 compilation featuring classics from the likes of Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, and Jim Ed Brown, went into constant rotation at Oberst’s home and eventually became the inspiration for he and La Lupa to start their own country covers band. Oberst’s then-wife Corina Figueroa Escamilla had been visiting her hometown of Mexico City; when she returned she was informed that she’d be the band’s frontwoman. Escamilla, a trained audio engineer who once worked at Bright Eyes producer Mike Mogis’ ARC Studios, had never before performed in a band or even considered being a singer, but Oberst and La Lupa knew her to have a stunning voice from hearing her sing along with records at home and in the car. It took some persuading, but she agreed to join the band and adopted the stage name Dolores Diaz, a Hispanicized take on Doris Day. From there, they recruited a host of bandmates from their Omaha neighbors and frequent collaborators – MogisRoger Lewis (The Good Life)Matt Maginn (Cursive)Dan McCarthy (McCarthy Trenching)Ben BrodinPhil Schaffart, and Jim Schroder. Most had at one time or another lived in Oberst’s house, some had worked at Mogis’ ARC Studios – which shares a yard with Oberst’s property – and all were happy to find a way to pass the winter with friends. Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club only played five proper shows – Live at O’Leaver’s is a recording taken from of two of them, in January 2016 and September 2018, at the Omaha pub owned by members of Cursive and beloved locally for its intimate, house-show-style concerts. Some of the songs were pulled directly from Them Old Country Songs – Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s “Just Someone I Used To Know,” Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses” – alongside other old country hits from Charley PrideSammi Smith, and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and less conventional choices that the band added a country twang to – Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” Randy Newman’s “Jolly Coppers on Parade.” Oberst, La Lupa, and McCarthy sing lead on a few tracks, and the bulk are led by Escamilla, who proved herself to be a born frontwoman, belting out Connie Smith’s “Once A Day,” Tammy Wynette’s “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad,” Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” and Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” with all the fire and heartbreak of the originals. 

Live at O’Leaver’s is a rowdy and joyful listen – a testament to a longstanding musical community whose members thrive on each other’s playing, great timeless songs, and the shared search for a good time.

Today Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club share two tracks from the record – Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” (first released as a single by the Byrds in 1968), featuring Oberst on lead vocals, and Loretta Lynn’s iconic 1967 single “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),” sung by Escamilla.

LISTEN:

“YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE”&“DON’T COME HOME A-DRINKIN’ (WITH LOVIN’ ON YOUR MIND)”

“Playing with the Standby Club is pure joy,” says Oberst. “There is a unique thrill in learning all those classic songs and getting to perform them with a giant band of old friends. And on top of that it was amazing to watch Corina embrace her alter ego. She is normally a pretty reserved person, but when she slipped on those cowboy boots and stepped on stage she instantly transformed into Dolores and always blew the roof off the place. We all had so much fun and I think you can hear and feel that on these recordings.”
Live at O’Leaver’s will be released digitally on December 11 via 15 Passenger, the record label owned by Cursive. It will be available April 9 on vinyl. Pre-orders are available HERE.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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