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
musician Danny Morris says he's a "kook" when it comes to actually
in the ocean.
"'Kook' is what they call beginners," said Morris, who left the
D.C., vicinity a few years ago for sunny Florida. "I've been at it
but I'm still an amateur."
There is nothing amateurish about his music abilities, however, which he
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
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
ways than one. "I'm not bringing my band from Florida. At Jake's, I'm
to be playing with my original drummer, Joe Wells, and 'Big' John
will be sitting in on bass," Morris said. "John used to be my roommate
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
engineering school. Now they've branched off into film and animation,"
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,
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
"I jammed with the Nighthawks on stage in Tampa on New Year's Eve,"
said. "Jimmy Thackery also got up and played guitar, and Billy Wirtz sat
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
faces, despite the cold weather.
"I miss the people," Morris said. "I miss my musician friends, and my
E-mail Roger Hillis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published Wednesday, January 21, 2004