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Thursday, May 6, 2010

SPARTA BOYS

big daddy love--image borrowed from bdl website


The mountains are as beautiful as they get this week. Weather that's agreeable with short sleeves, sunshine all day, puffy clouds floating overhead, landscape in the fresh new green of meadows and trees. Stopped at Blue Ridge Gallery on the way home from a trip to town to see Melia and Judy. We sat on the porch and looked out over the long ridge from where Bullhead meets 21 on the left, then panning right, the humps of Bullhead, then Green Mountain with what used to be the fire tower and now looks like a cell phone tower and other towers, Air Bellows Overlook, the place where Air Bellows Gap Road meets the Parkway, the hairpin turn and the the rock bridge that has become the Air Bellows Outdoor Art Museum Of Spontaneous Teenage Angst (ABOAMOSTA). The ridge and Parkway recede on the right at Low Notch and on toward Doughton Park. The view is Pine Swamp and Whitehead. Melia and Judy are Jr's second cousins. Jr's first cousin, Claude Edwards, was their daddy.


Judy had a CD for me to hear toward playing on the radio Saturday morning. The band, Big Daddy Love, is playing here Saturday night at the Silver Dollar in Glade Valley. Three of the guys in the band are from Sparta, Dan Smith, Brian Swenk and Joey Recchio. Laura Thornburg wrote an article in this week's paper about them. The concert Saturday night will be a benefit for Partnership for Children. They said they wanted to play here once a year a benefit show for the Partnership. They're a 5 piece band. I put them on the soundmachine later and was struck by what a good band they are, right off. Dan Smith does the vocals and wrote all the songs. They are every one respectable songs in the wording and the presentation with music. The band plays very well together, they're all good musicians, good vocals. All the songs are well conceived musically.
Dan Smith, songwriter, vocalist and rhythm guitar, gives a good description of their sound to Laura in the interview, "We call our music roots and rock. It speaks around a lot of our influences; we call it the sound of bluegrass with the soul of the Allman Brothers." When I read that before hearing them, I thought, 'Whatever.' When I heard their sound, it was evident he knew what he was saying. The sound of bluegrass with electric guitar and drums. He didn't mean they sounded like bluegrass. The band has the sound of bluegrass. Listening to the album I listened for bluegrass and there was none. But there was, indeed, the sound of bluegrass. The Allman Brothers soul he mentioned hit the mark. Joey Recchio playing the electric guitar really does have the Southern soul of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Again, it's the soul of the Allman Brothers he pointed to and indeed it's there. The soul of Greg Allman is in the sound as well as Duane. Yet Big Daddy Love's sound is their own.
The band has a website http://www.bigdaddylove.net/. It's a good site. They kind of present themselves in the Americana vein, pictured in a boxcar, that kind of American identity. I can see them at Merlefest in a few years. They also have a MySpace site that can be reached at http://www.myspace.com/bigdaddyloveband. Their concert schedule can be found there and some songs for free downloading, and some for playing while at the site. These are very talented guys. They'll have cds for sale at the show Saturday night. I'd been seeing the little posters around town about Big Daddy Love, but never stopped to look at one. Then Judy called them to my attention. They're a band Sparta kids can be proud of. Before I heard it, I thought I might play it all on the show. Now that I've heard it, I've found 3 songs I'd play. In the interview in the paper, they said they have something for everyone on the album. I want my listeners to hear them. 3 of the songs, River Runs, American Sycamore, A Letter to Love, seem accessible to my listeners. I don't mean to put off on them when it's my own decision. I'd guess at least half of my listeners like rock and can listen to it and enjoy it. The other half, drums and electric guitars hurt their ears. They hear it on tv all the time in commercials and soundtracks, so it doesn't hurt their ears too bad. It's not like rock & roll is revolutionary any more. It's not the kind of music that touches my listeners, but I believe they will still be interested to hear what some fellers from Sparta are doing. I want to use songs that will be accessible to my listeners ears, "the sound of bluegrass." While the squawling guitar is ratcheting up the soul in their sound, and beautifully, the show isn't quite Rock FM. At the same time I want to represent the ones making rock and country as well. I don't want to be exclusive, even of region. I like to be open for a fiddler from Missouri who is especially good. The show is foremost about good music.
I have to grant that sometimes a banjo and fiddle get to going in some bluegrass jam, like Ricky Skaggs can do, that can get the same energy going as a good Southern rock band. But Skaggs isn't electric guitars and drums either. I want to give my listeners a chance to hear the new band that's playing some very respectable rock & roll, a couple of songs that are accessible to my hillbilly listeners' ears. The show celebrates local musicians. These are local musicians. I want to and will play them. The show starts at 7 Saturday at the Silver Dollar. It will be an excellent show. Track 1 on their album, To The Mountain, is called Hometown Radio (WCOK). It is a very cleverly conceived and carried out brief review of BDL's first album, with the original crew, like looking for 1060 on an AM dial, passing stations, hearing a phrase, back to static, another phrase of a rock song that was playing there, more static, then the dial gradually settles and the dj announces this is WCOK. I take it that's Dan Smith being the dj.
If Sue doesn't have this CD at the station, I'll leave it with her. There are times of the day every song on here could be played to mix well with what's playing, like country, even gospel. The songs can't be labeled gospel, but they are, like in the way Reggae is a gospel music. They need to be played on WCOK, everything, all the time. I hope they've sent a promo copy to WBRF. These fellers are good musicians from NW NC. They way I see it, if they were playing violin, viola and bassoon in the Greensboro Symphony, at least something needs playing on WCOK by the GSO because some home boys are in the band. Even if they're Mexicans that grew up here and are playing Mexican music. As Alleghany changes, the music changes.

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