Dick Conklin -
The Marathon Weekly - 12/05/04
Surfs Up! Sixties Music Headed for the Keys
In the 1960s we lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where surf music and sixties rock dominated the local music scene. Bobby Cash's band ruled at Lee Caron's Carnival Club, the area's biggest music venue right in the heart of town at the corner of AIA and the 520 Causeway.
History sometimes repeats itseff, and
40 years later a surf band from Cocoa
Beach is again rocking audiences, includ-
ing here in the Keys. Danny Morris is
much too young to have experienced
beach music when it first appeared on the
scene, but that hasn't stopped him from
playing it just the way it used to sound.
The Danny Morris Band is nine years
old, but Danny previously played for five
years with The Nighthawks in
Washington, DC, where he released two
CDs, including a live concert, "Rock This
House," in 1993. Since then the Danny
Morris Band has recorded three CDs on
New Moon Records, "I Won't Worry"
(1995), "Storm Surge" (1997) and "The
Golden Prize" in 2001. They have opened for headliner Jerry Lee Lewis and performed at the Longboard Surf
Contests in Ocean City, New Jersey.
They have also appeared with bluesman BB King, Johnny Winter, Peter Tosh, and The Smithereens.
Danny, a singer/guitar player who grew up in Charlotte and Chapel Hill,
North Carolina, took a break from touring in 2002 to attend Full Sail College in
Orlando, where he earned a degree in
audio engineering and video production.
After a short stint as a sound designer in
an Orlando production house, he moved
to Cocoa Beach.
When they are home in Cocoa Beach, The Danny Morris Band performs at
Coconuts' Tuesday Night Surf Party, a breezy outdoor venue right on the beach.
They are currently on a national tour, arriving back in the Keys this Thursday
after a hectic swing through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and
Fans of all ages enjoy the band's music, which is perfect for a night of partying and dancing. Danny Morris describes his
band as "influenced by the guitar-based
sounds of the blues and '60's surf music.
I try to combine my favorite sounds to
create something new, throwing in lots of
reverb tones and jumping rhythms. I call
it 'surf-blues'. But, really it's a combination of all the great sounds of the 50's and 60's. It's something like the T-Birds play-
ing California Surf Music," be says.
Drummer Chris Waldron is originally
from New Jersey, and has lived in both
Southern California and Texas. He
played with various bands, including
Greg Allman, Floyd Dixon, Sonny Rhodes, Bob Greenlee and others. Bass
man Mike Tolnay grew up in Cocoa Beach and has plaved with several Florida bands. He toured with keyboardist Steve Miller until Steve's death in 2003.
In addition to playing a lot of familiar surf and sixties music, the band plays several songs written by Morris, including "Violated," "You're Mine," "Storm
Surge," "Women From Pluto," and
"Navajo Spaceship." Cover songs are borrowed from a variety of sixties groups
like The Ventures, Perez Prado, Link
Wray, The Beatles, Albert CoUins,
Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan,
Chuck Berry, Martin Denny, Buddy
Holly, Santana, Los Lobos, and Dick
When they aren't on the road, Danny
books the band, writes and records new
material. He also likes to surf and fly air-
planes. Chris does some carpentry and
likes long walks in the moonlight. Mike
has a family pool cleaning business and
enjoys watching wrestling.
Danny says he and the band hope to
play bigger venues in the fature and "tour
more smart than hard. We'd like to get the
opening spot for a big-time act to expose
what we do to more people. We already
tour hard, but one big venue show can
equal 100 small club gigs in terms of how
people perceive the band. And, we hope
to get more airplay with new original
tunes and sounds and hope folks will dig it. I'd like to get more soundtrack work
for TV and film projects. I've done sever
al in the past and really enjoy that kind of
Danny says the band always looks for-
ward to Keys gigs. "It's always a great
time playing in the Keys," he says. "The
response we receive from you folks is
great. We get treated like big shots or
something! I mean, we'll walk into a club
and it's like, 'Your money's no good here.
What do you want to drink?' Or people will e-mail us and say they've planned a whole vacation around our Keys schedule. So, we always look forward to playing the Keys."
Fans of the Danny Morris Band won't
have to wait much longer. The band
opens their Florida Keys tour at
Marathon's Hurricane Bar and Grille
this Thursday, December 9th. They
then go to The Schooner Wharf in Key
West on Friday and Saturday,
December 10th and 11th.
If you miss them this time, they'll be
back at The Hurricane during "Hell
Week," Monday, December 27th thru
Wednesday December 29th, returning
to the Hurricane on Thursday, January
13 and back in Key West at The Green
Parrot on January 14th thru the 16th.
The band has a great Web site at
www.dannymomsband.com, and they
can also be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also by phone at
If you think that playing in a rock
band is all fun and games, Danny says
he is often asked to perform special
duties at the venues he performs at,
many of them unpaid. Like the time he
was "forced at gunpoint" to serve as a
judge at a spring break bikini contest.
For proof, check out his Web site's
photo gallery, under "Spring Break,