The Danny Morris Band
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The Danny Morris Band
  Art Tipaldi - Liner Notes from "Storm Surge"

      In his search for voice, Morris fuses two seemingly opposite styles into a vision that works; older, African-American inner city blues with young, blonde white teens at the beach. Call it Otis Rush meets the Ventures or the Iceman Albert Collins melts strings with a surfin' Dick Dale. Whatever you label it; Danny Morris plays from a blues based style that incorporates roots and surf, and a bluesy, California beach roots rock. And it works. There are a lot of people saying I'm not playing blues anymore, but to me it's all the same. When I hear Albert Collins' Truckin' CD, I hear a surf record. Most of the songs have that 60 go-go surf beat. The Otis Rush records I like have tons of reverb echoplex sound. I've always liked that Collins and Rush reverb drenched sound. To me, what I do takes the blues outta the barroom and puts it outside. I don't play the Beach Boys stuff; my surf style has the edgy, meanness of the blues sound. I also listen to a lot of the Cuban music from the 5O's, so you'll hear Spanish stuff," said Morris. How do blues rooms react to this mixture? "When I start playing the Ventures, they look at me like. This isn't what we expected, but don't change it, we love it!" So put on your 5O's beach garb, wax the boards, pile in the woody, and oil up the air whammy bar because Danny's takin' us on a surfin' guitar safari.
       The beboppin' ultra hip first cut, "Beat Cop," is typical of the 12 Morris originals. They all have 60's soundtrack textures, and they are all in the three minute family. If his surf tunes reek of Coppertone, this one emits Dragnet. "I'm a big fan of the three minute song and soundtrack stuff. That's why there are so many songs on the CD. I try to write my songs like it would be written in the early 60's."
       Thus there is a futuristic, outer space quality on "Women of Pluto" and "Moon Relay." Both are reminiscent of the downright phony sci-fi flicks boomers were weaned on. Close your eyes and it's a Saturday matinee at the local community center. Danny's spooky surfin' twang on "Violated" will have you remembering the horror films of those days too. His Cuban flavored groove reigns on tunes like "Mowgii's Bounce" and "Renee's Cha- Cha."
       But this is still the same Danny Morris who fronted the Blue Note Special blues band from 1987 to 1991, then joined the Nighthawks from '91 to '95. There are still huge amounts of blues in his bag. "Storm Surge" contains the Otis Rush, West side guitar Morris fell in love with early. Texas shuffles rule on "Sad and Blue" and "Swing With You Baby." He also covers Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright" and Earl King's "Come On" aka "Let The Good Times Roll." And he does an up tempo version of "Garbage Man" with it's almost off color rhymes.
       Though the Hawaiian shirt and clothes suggest one approach, Danny's auditory barrage on the red Strat blasts another. From all I've heard, Morris stands poised to be a leader of his generation's sound.

       Art is a contributing writer for Blues Revue a member of the Board of Directors of the Blues Foundation.

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