When Dave Brouillette moved from Massachusetts to Petaluma in 2010, he had no intention of forming a music group, even though he had written songs and played in a cover band in his hometown north of Boston.
The formation of Dirty Red Barn was pure serendipity.
Brouillette, facility manager for the National Park Service at Point Reyes National Seashore, became friends with two co-workers, Ben Becker and Scott Pardue.
“The three of us enjoyed each other’s company,” Brouillette said. “And we were all musicians. The band just occurred naturally.”
The name of the band comes from a real barn located near the Bear Valley Visitors Center.
“We have a big old red barn out there,” said Brouillette. “One of the projects we were working on was cleaning up the barn. It was kind of a mess. So we were talking about what to call our group and Ben said, ‘How about Dirty Red Barn?’”
Pardue, a harmonica player, eventually moved away, but guitarist Brouillette and bassist Becker kept the group together, eventually adding Malcolm Johnson on drums and Sean Parnell on harmonica.
The quartet has been together for two years and recently released their eponymously titled debut album. The CD consists of 10 original songs that blend blues, folk, rock and bluegrass into a sound best described as Americana.
“We spent the last couple of years writing material and the last eight months recording and mixing the CD,” Brouillette said.
Johnson first met Brouillette through Little League baseball, where both of their sons played. “I didn’t know Dave was a musician, but we really got to know each other through our boys who were in the Petaluma High School music program,” he said. Both men are active in the school’s music boosters program.
“When Dave found out that I played drums, he told me he wanted me to play in his group,” said Johnson. “I went to hear them play at Brixx and then he invited me to come over and jam. I must have passed the audition.”
“I kind of twisted his arm,” Brouillette said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Johnson added. “I tell my wife it’s my book club. It’s a chance for me to get out once a week and play a little bit.” Johnson and his wife own Washington Square Veterinary Clinic. “She is the veterinarian,” he said. “She does all the hard work.”
Parnell joined the group after Pardue left in 2014. A friend told Parnell that Dirty Red Barn might be looking for a new harmonica player. Eventually, Brouillette called Parnell and said, “We hear you play a mean harmonica. Why don’t you come over and let’s see what we can do?
“We started jamming and it all fit together,” he added.
Parnell, a salesman in the wine industry, had previously been a member of the Highway Poets, Biting the Dog and other groups.
“I had been a straight blues player,” he said. “When you’re playing blues, you wait for your turn to take a solo. With Dirty Red Barn, I get to play the harmonica as a lead instrument. It lets me stretch my legs in a different way than when playing blues.”
All four musicians contribute to the songwriting process.
DIRTY RED BARN
Friday, Nov. 10: Twin Oaks Roadhouse, Penngrove. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11: HopMonk Tavern, Sonoma. 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 29: Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma. 4:20 p.m.
Debut album, “Dirty Red Barn,” is available online at CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.