Lisa M. Onorato -
Hometown News - 6/22/07
'Big Surf Show' Hits Air
Dick Dale may have pioneered the surf guitar sound, but Brevard County residents have their own local legend in the genre.
Local surf guitar devotee Danny Morris lends his knowledge and enthusiasm to WFIT-FM 89.5 from 6-8 a.m. Saturdays on "The Big Surf Show."
The radio show will serve as both an entertaining and educational journey into the world of surf music.
Mr. Morris said he came up with the idea after conducting a music seminar for the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame.
"My band came in and I did a timeline presentation of how surf music evolved," Mr. Morris said. "I thought it would be cool to be able to spin the music at a radio station."
The show went live on WFIT last month, and Mr. Morris said the response from listeners has been enthusiastic. "I've been getting a lot of e-mails and calls," Mr. Morris said.
"People remember the music from back in the day and can relate to surfing and beach music," he said.
However, Mr. Morris wants to expose the community to more than just the older surf standards.
He said he enjoys sharing bands that were making music alongside the Ventures and the Safaris but didn't get mass exposure.
"Their music is just as good," he said. "Groups like The Vistas, Nocturnes, Chandelles and Revelairs."
Mr. Morris, who's been playing guitar and singing since he was in elementary school, was born in North Carolina. He gave up college to play in a band full-time.
Eventually, he caught the "ear" of The Nighthawks, a blues band that was well known in the Washington, D.C., area.
Soon after, he joined the band and toured with them from 1990-95.
But Mr. Morris said he was always intrigued by guitar-driven surf music and its relationship to blues and rock. During his time with The Nighthawks, he had his own band and performed his unique style of blues/surf music.
He said Nighthawks' fans were surprised at the "new" style of music he was playing.
"We were playing in a club in Detroit and people were expecting 'Danny Morris from The Nighthawks,'" he said.
"People said we don't know what (this music) is, but we like it."
To Mr. Morris, the blues and surf music are closely linked, with only environment separating the two.
"The blues conjures up a smokey bar," he said. "Surf music conjures up being outside in the sun and waves."
Seeking an environmental change of his own, Mr. Morris moved to Winter Park in 2002 to attend Full Sail: School of Film, Art, Design, Music and Media Production, where he studied music production. He would travel to the Space Coast on the weekends to play with other musicians. Eventually, he formed the local trio known as the Danny Morris Band.
In addition to doing the radio show each Saturday morning, he performs regularly with his band and still manages to squeeze in some surf sessions.
He said the future holds exciting things for "The Big Surf Show."
"I haven't even touched into the new bands. There are a lot out there," he said.
Mr. Morris said his show will feature everything from surf music to spy music (think of the theme to "Mission Impossible" and "Secret Agent Man") and garage rock.
A June 2 play list included music by the Astronauts, Stray Cats, Frank Zappa, the Mermen and Los Straightjackets.
With an impressive music resume and an eclectic mix of influences, Mr. Morris' radio mission is surprisingly simple.
"I just want to get you stoked in the morning to get up and check the waves," he said.
For information about "The Big Surf Show" and a past show playlist, visit www.wfit.org.
For information on Mr. Morris, visit www.dannymorrisband.com.
Contact Lisa M. Onorato at (321) 751-5963 or firstname.lastname@example.org.