Danny Morris took the blues to the beach. But while
strolling the shoreline, the former Nighthawk guitarist picked up a few more
genres. Morris incorporates some ska, jazz, flamenco, samba, and '50s rock into
his surf-rock sound.
Morris developed his R&B chops in Greensboro, N.C., in
the '80s with harpist David "Driveway" Moore's band The Messengers.
The band, which featured the "2 CC rhythm section" of Chris Carrol on bass and Chuck Cotton on drums, along with Morris on guitar, played every
Tuesday night, and the band developed a huge local following with their mix of
classic R&B covers. Morris's next venture was The Blue Note
Special, which concentrated more on blues
and won the Piedmont Blues Society's Talent Contest in 1988.
While playing area venues, Morris's talents impressed the
former Muddy Waters sideman Bob
Margolin and Saffire's Ann
Rabson, who recommended Morris to The
Nighthawks' co-founder, harp ace Marc
Wenner. Wenner had been looking for a
guitarist to replace original guitarist Jimmy Thackery, who left in 1987.
Morris had some big shoes to fill. Thackery spent 15 years
touring the world with the 'Hawks, and his sound was indelibly imprinted on the
band and their fans. To raise the "follow this if you can" stakes higher,
Morris' predecessors had included Warren Haynes, former Dickie Betts Band guitarist, then Allman Brothers ax man
before forming Gov't Mule.
Margolin had also held down the slot for a while, as had Jimmy Nalls, formerly of Sea Level. Nalls quit the 'Hawks to work with T.
Graham Brown, leaving the opening that
Morris filled. In 1993 The Nighthawks recorded one of their stellar live
performances and the result was the critically acclaimed CD "Rock
This House" which
features Morris' amazing guitar virtuosity ranging from blues, funk, jazz, and
rockabilly. The CD was the follow up for the 1991 release "Trouble".
Nighthawk Wenner remembers that Morris was, "quite right
for the situation musically and visually. But, I think that one of the things
with Danny was the he was in his 20s and we were in our late 40s. We always
wanted to go back to the hotel and chill and he always wanted to hang and jam
In 1995, Morris decided that he needed more hang time and went
out on his own. The guitarist started his namesake band as a side-project while
still with the 'Hawks, playing around the Virginia/DC area whenever he had time
off. The trio was already stretching out from straight-ahead blues. Morris told
The Charlotte Observer that performing
the same changes on a nightly basis was "like going in and reciting the same
conversation over and over. My influences are broad so as an artist I always
like to broaden my palette."
He released his first album in 1996. "I Won't Worry" was a mix of surf, jazz and
old-school rock and roll. Two years later, he came out with "Storm
Surge," pushing the
envelope even further, bringing onboard a couple of Cuban mixes to add to his
now-familiar fusion of blues and surf. Both received high praises from music
critics and fans alike. "Storm
Surge" contains 12 original tunes,
including "Violated," a reverb-rockin' true tale and a favorite among fans. Mike Joyce of The
Washington Post proclaimed, "It's
hard to imagine anyone not being impressed with Morris'
versatility and imagination" Rapidly
gaining notoriety for his eclectic song writing and awe-inspiring guitar
performance, Morris has been compared to such greats as Dick Dale, Danny
Gatton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Eddy.
His 2001 release, "The Golden Prize," mixes ska ("No One
Knows Virginia"), samba ("You're
Mine," "Our Moon") and '50s era rock ("Twistin'
Kristin") with surf classics like "I
Only Have Eyes For You" and "Pipeline." Morris even throws in a little soft-core punk with "All
I Think About." The Beatles get a turn in "Please,
Please Me" done as an instrumental with
Dick Dale flourishes. Morris finally gets down and dirty with some nasty blues
on the closer, "Stop Teasin' Me,"
ripping off some pretty tasty, nasty, greasy Texas-style slide with Jimmy
Thackery and the Drivers while sax man Jimmy Carpenter blows a sack full of back alley bump and grind.
Dirt of Reverb Central says, "Surf instros lay side by side with soft
blues and roots music, and the combo works well. The Danny Morris Band has
found a groove that transcends several genre boundaries in a natural and
friendly way. An excellent album, especially the opening instro "Flight
School," Danny can play guitar!"
In 2002, Morris moved to Orlando, Florida, to learn the
ins and outs of recording studio technology at Full Sail College. In 2003, he earned a degree in Audio Engineering,
receiving top honors in several courses, including earning a Pro
Tools Certification specializing in audio
Upon graduation Morris worked at Orlando's Sound-O-Rama post-production studio where his main duties were
audio editing, sound design and music composition, among others. But late in
2003, the lure of music and travel were calling again.
In February 2004, Morris once again partnered with his
good friends Mark Wenner and The Nighthawks for a three-week European tour. It
would be Nighthawk bass player Jan Zukowski's last tour after 35 years with the band. "I missed the music... my music
the most," said Morris. He moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, to once again pursue
his music passion full time.
In addition to his own performances, Morris has shared the
stage with numerous artists (and idols) including: John Lee Hooker, Jerry Lee
Lewis, The Smithereens, Earl King, John Hammond Jr., B.B. King, Ben E. King,
Tom Principato, Danny Gatton, Gatemouth Brown, Mick Fleetwood, Luther Allison,
Bill Kirchen, James Cotton, Fingers Taylor, Rod Piazza, Charlie Musselwhite,
Johnny Clyde Copeland, and Robert Cray.
Now based in the "small wave capital of the east
coast," Morris and the band are steadily
performing and touring once again throughout the U.S., Canada and Caribbean.
Playing venues of all sorts; from The Marie Becker Longboard Surf Contest
in New Jersey; to The Dinosaur BBQ and Blues Club in New York; to The Green Parrot in Key West; to The Hull Bay Surf Club in St. Thomas, Morris plays to a loyal and
dedicated fan base that is excited and eager to catch the band whenever
In addition to the Live DVD, new releases are slated for
2006, most notably a huge collection of official "bootleg" recordings fans can
check out online at the band's website. With veteran musicians Mike Tolnay on bass and Frank Hetzler on drums, the band is more rockin' than ever and
Danny Morris is poised to be THE guitarist's guitarist and performer's
performer you'll want to hip yourself to.
What the Critics are saying about
"Albert Collins melts strings with a surfin' Dick Dale"
"Dick Dale meets Stevie Ray"
"Otis Rush meets the Ventures"
"Magic Slim on a Surfin' Safari"
"Whammy Surf GOD!"