The Danny Morris Band
The Danny Morris Band
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The Danny Morris Band
  Roger Hillis - The Beachcomber - 1/23/04
Surf guitarist revisits his roots Danny Morris will play Jake's in Rehoboth Beach on Saturday, Jan. 24

       Although he's mastered the art of surf-rock guitar playing, former regional musician Danny Morris says he's a "kook" when it comes to actually surfing in the ocean.

       "'Kook' is what they call beginners," said Morris, who left the Washington, D.C., vicinity a few years ago for sunny Florida. "I've been at it awhile, but I'm still an amateur."

       There is nothing amateurish about his music abilities, however, which he is demonstrating on a tour of his favorite old Northeast nightclub haunts. This, in turn, followed by an overseas trek in February. The slate of local gigs includes a free show at Jake's Seafood Highway One, located north of Rehoboth Beach, on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m.

       Calling the Coast Press from a stop in his original hometown of Chapel Hill, N.C., Morris said the Saturday performance will be a reunion in more ways than one. "I'm not bringing my band from Florida. At Jake's, I'm going to be playing with my original drummer, Joe Wells, and 'Big' John Perry will be sitting in on bass," Morris said. "John used to be my roommate when I lived in Virginia. He plays with the Tom Principato Band now."

       Since Principato's group is taking a brief hiatus between album projects, the timing was perfect for the roommates to get together for a live jam session. "That's another reason I left the 70-degree weather to come north," Morris said.

       Touring man Morris was 24 when he moved from Chapel Hill to the D.C. area to join the popular blues-rock band the Nighthawks in 1990.

       That band was Morris's ticket to tour this country and others. He eventually formed his own surf-rock group as a side band, but it quickly became his main focus.

       He has since released three CDs, the latest titled "the Golden Prize."

       In 2002, he moved to Cocoa Beach, Fla., to learn the ins and outs of recording studio technology at Full Sail College. "It's a really cool audio engineering school. Now they've branched off into film and animation," Morris said.

       After obtaining his degree, Morris quickly got a day job, but it was short-lived. "I was at a studio called Soundarama, but the work dried up after about three months," he said.

       Morris started to once again rely on live shows as his bread and butter. "Cocoa Beach has a great scene going on. It's kind of an oasis for live music, especially blues," he said. "It's a little bit easier to make of a go of it there than in D.C., where there's so much competition."

       While his CDs contain elements of blues, jazz, lounge and other styles, it is surf-guitar that Morris is best known for. "We do a lot of surf party stuff at bars in Florida, where they play surf videos," he said. "That's alright. I'm just happy to have a steady gig."

       On Dec. 31, he laid the groundwork for another gig, albeit a temporary one. "I jammed with the Nighthawks on stage in Tampa on New Year's Eve," Morris said. "Jimmy Thackery also got up and played guitar, and Billy Wirtz sat in on keyboards."

       As the Nighthawks' current guitarist was planning on leaving the band, Morris was asked to fill in during a February tour of Europe. "It's just until they get a new guy," Morris said. "I'm taking my band to the Carribean to play in March."

       This will followed by a fourth solo CD, Morris said. But at the moment, the guitarist is enjoying seeing some familiar Northeast faces, despite the cold weather.

       "I miss the people," Morris said. "I miss my musician friends, and my nonmusician friends."

       E-mail Roger Hillis at

       Originally published Wednesday, January 21, 2004

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