You walk into a roadhouse or casino in Anywhere U.S.A., or wipe the bar-be-que sauce off your fingers as you find a seat at a big-stage outdoor music festival, or push your way into a crowded blues club and order a beer. What you want to hear is some smokin' blues-rock -- a fast-paced boogie romp one minute and soaring slide-guitar slow-dancing grind-your-hips-together blues the next, with lyrics to make you cry in your drink on some songs and yell with delight at others. You are hoping a band like The Beat Daddys takes the stage.
The next best thing to hearing The Beat Daddys onstage is to listen to their sixth album, Five Moons, which contains a dozen original instant classic" blues numbers from this hard-working, constantly-touring, highly-entertaining band. Recordings by The Beat Daddys are available at their website (beatdaddys.com), at leading online webstores (amazon.com and cdbaby.com), and at internet digital download locations including iTunes.com.
The Beat Daddys are led by founder, lead singer, rhythm guitarist and chief songwriter Larry Grisham, who has fronted the band since 1986. Grisham also has played with blues singer Mighty Sam McClain (on tour), Bobby Blue Bland (in the studio) and guitarist Tom Britt (Vince Gill, Patty Loveless); and has jammed with James Cotton, Doyle Bramhall Sr., Buddy Miles, Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers. Lead guitarist for The Beat Daddys is Britt Meacham (also playing slide guitar), who is best-known nationally for his guitar-work on Bob Seger's classic hit Old Time Rock & Roll." Meacham also was a member of recording acts Jackson Highway and Storm, toured with Little Milton, recorded with Rickey Medlocke and Blackfoot, and jammed with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Traffic and Dire Straits.
The bassist on Five Moons is Barry Bays, who has played with John Mohead, Shawn Lane, Jeff Healey, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Dickinson. Drummer Paul Scott has toured in the bands Dixie Grey and The Forrester Sisters. Special guest keyboardist Johnny Neel has played with the Allman Brothers, The Dickey Betts Band, Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac), Allen Woody and Matt Abts (both with Gov't Mule), Marc Ford (Black Crowes), Berry Oakley Jr. and Blue Floyd. Other guests on the CD are bassist and engineer Dennis Gulley (Jackson Highway, Alabama, The Moffatts) and drummer David Parks (LoCash Cowboys, Van-Dells).
The Beat Daddys currently onstage are Grisham, Meacham, Scott and Jon Rochner (Marty Brown). Sometimes the band includes a keyboardist (most often Johnny Neel), various female backing vocalists, or a full horn section. In addition, occasionally Grisham will play a solo show or songwriter's showcase, and sometimes Grisham and Meacham will perform as an acoustic duo. The Beat Daddys have toured through every state in the U.S.A., Europe, Greenland, Iceland, Asia, Japan and the South Pacific. Among the many festivals they have played are the Medgar Evers Homecoming Festival in Mississippi (five years in a row), the Janis Joplin Birthday Bash in Texas (14 years), the Tucson Blues Festival, and BayFest in Mobile, Alabama. They have appeared on concert bills with B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Koko Taylor, Robert Cray, Tower of Power, Indigenous, ZZ Top and hundreds of other top acts.
Larry Grisham started writing songs in grade school, became drummer at age 12 and a guitarist when he was 14. His grandmother's cousin was the famous finger-picking guitarist Merle Travis. Larry had a transient childhood (17 different schools) in places such as Evansville, Indiana (where he was born), Detroit, Michigan (elementary school) and the tiny town of Cloverport, Kentucky (high school). His earliest musical influence was church music followed by his mother's record collection (Ray Charles, Dinah Washington), but soon he was listening to Elvis followed by The Beatles, The Yardbirds and The Rolling Stones. Larry, who at six-foot-five-inches-tall is a big presence onstage, received a basketball scholarship to Lander University in South Carolina, but left after the first year to be a fulltime professional musician.
Grisham joined the bands Stillwell (he worked with guitarist Tommy Stillwell for many years), Mere Image and The Phonz (which recorded a four-song mini-LP and the album Failure to Communicate for Limp Dog Records). Larry also co-owned and managed his own club in Indiana for several years ("which taught me the business side of the music business"). Grisham's influences expanded over the years as he further explored the blues through Cream, John Mayall, Peter Green and early Fleetwood Mac, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Freddie King and Lonnie Mack. Grisham lived for many years in the town of Pass Christian on the Mississippi coast (about 60 miles from New Orleans) until it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He now lives in the country outside of Nashville.
The Beat Daddys recorded their first album, Houserocking Rhythm & Blues on Camelot Records, at TRC Studio in Indianapolis with guest keyboardist John Cassella (John Mellencamp, Duke Tumatoe). The success of the record (14 original tunes plus songs by B.B. King and Johnny Winter) led to their signing with top blues/R&B label Waldoxy/Malaco Records in the United States. The band's music also has been released on other labels in Canada, Europe and Australia. Their second recording is titled No, We Ain't From Clarksdale (taken from a lyric in Larry's tune, The Delta Song"). Recorded at the infamous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, the album featured special guests the Muscle Shoals Horns and saxophonist Jim Horn.
The third CD, South to Mississippi, was recorded at the same studio with members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (also known as The Swampers") - Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, David Hood and Clayton Ivey. One tune off that album, How Blue Must I Get," got extensive airplay after it was chosen by Dan Akroyd as his Elwood Blues Brother's Pick Hit" for The House of Blues Radio Show. The Beat Daddys then recorded a concert in Mississippi and released their Live album that included Britt Meacham for the first time along with Lewis Ross (Wet Willie) on drums. The Delta Vision CD was recorded in Florida at Kingsnake Studios and included Ten Pounds of Love," a duet with Sonny Rhodes that got heavy airplay on Direct TV's Blues Channel. Another special guest was Bob Greenlee (Root Boy Slim) on bass. The CD went Top 15 on the prestigious Living Blues Magazine's album chart. Songs by The Beat Daddys also have appeared on various compilation albums including Good Whiskey Blues, Southern Shades of Blue, Z. Zelebration: A Tribute to Z.Z. Hill and Malaco: The Last Soul Company.
Grisham's songwriting influences not only include blues and rock'n'roll, but many other genres including country, folk and Americana. Grisham has had two of his tunes covered by Dorothy Moore and one recorded by Little Milton. In recent years, Larry has been listening to songwriters such as Tony Joe White, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Russell Smith, Lucinda Williams and Brad Paisley; and Grisham also has been inspired by vocalists including Bob Seger, Delbert McClinton, Steve Earle, Jimmy Hall and Alison Krauss.
Five Moons, which took five months to record, is Southern blues-rock at its best with the emphasis on blues. As you would expect, many of the lyrics have to do with relationship problems and heartache - the searing Pale White Circle" ("that place on your finger when you take the ring off"), the slow'n'soulful Bad Streak" ("instead of holding the bad things against me, let's remember the good times"), and the acoustic-building-to-an-electric-climax Lonely Road" ("about the blue-eyed vixen who broke my heart and robbed my soul"). There are the games-lovers-play tunes Where Is She" (classic electric blues) and Five Moons" (featuring both Larry and Britt on acoustic guitars). Larry explores humor with Big Thighs" ("I'm a big man and I enjoy a big woman") and the sadness of a homeless person on She Goes Down" ("you can see them sliding on that downward spiral").
We play blues because the music is a universal language that everyone can feel and understand," explains Grisham. As I say in one of my songs, 'Blues is the common ground.' Everybody feels blue at one time or another, so everyone can relate to the music. I wrote another song about the importance of the blues in our lives and I called it 'Everybody Needs Some.' It's also a primal thing. I dare you to listen to the blues and keep your head from bobbing or your feet from tapping. Blues music gets in the blood and you can't stop it."
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