Big Daddy Love
Big Daddy Love's 'Appalachian Rock'- a unique and natural blend of rock, roots and grass- has put this North Carolina quintet on the radars of music lovers throughout North America and beyond. Live, with the lights on and the volume up, Big Daddy Love (BDL) stretches the music out with top notch pickin' and grinnin' and delivers a stompin' good time rich with authentic Carolina soul. Twang, rock hooks, psychedelia and lyrical complexity work together seamlessly to create a refreshing, original sound. Like a typical Southern rock line-up, the interplay between the twin leads instruments- Stratocaster riffs and soaring Allman-esque slide guitar on the one hand, and electric and acoustic 5-string Scruggs / Fleck style banjo picking on the other- leads the charge. Supported by a rhythm section that is equally at home in a groove or driving the bus with country, swing, funk or straight ahead rock, the musicians create a striking instrumental dynamic that ranges from bombastic assaults to soothing grooves. Above the mix, fiery lead vocals and soulful harmonies call attention to the good-natured, yet thoughtful sincerity of the words.
Whereas BDL's high energy live show has garnered them a strong, passionate following throughout the Southeastern US, into the Mid-Atlantic and as far as Chicago and The Rockies, the authentic song-craft and undeniable musicianship of the band- as heard in their studio recordings- has resonated with audiences throughout the ether and generated demand beyond the markets where they currently perform. Their debut recording, To The Mountain, received glowing reviews, such as this one from Belgium: "...if you are a fan of The Allman Brothers Band or Drive-By Truckers, but you are open to bluegrass elements, then this CD really is a must." Closer to home, North Carolina music media staple Mountain Xpress said: "From start to finish, To The Mountain is a captivating album that alludes to a dynamic live show. If the musicians dabble in a variety of styles it's only because, well, they can. And certain elements-- a tightly-coiled energy always threatening to explode within each song, a choice group of collaborators, flawless musicianship and compelling vocals-- provide a palpable thread throughout." The record was picked up as a favorite spin by Americana and AAA radio stations throughout the region, including taste-maker WNCW in Spindale, NC. The buzz created by To The Mountain and "The Love Bus"- the band's passionate North Carolina fans who were sparing the music online and traveling to see runs shows- landed BDL on an agency roster and on the lineup for Floyd Fest, where they won the prestigious "Under The Radar" contest for the best new artist at the large, Virginia event. The fresh, vital sound and energized performance of this new band simply blew people away, and with the fan-voted award under their belts, Big Daddy Love returned home and began to build their grass roots following in earnest.
To The Mountain was a snapshot of a young band realizing the power of their vision, stretching the boundaries of their influences while celebrating their Appalachian roots. The 2011 follow-up, Let It Grow (Little King Records), represented a more seasoned band- both on the road and in their personal lives- but it remained consistent in terms of its broad subject matter, it's sincerity and it's dynamic. Big Daddy Love's signature Appalachian Rock sound was further refined in this collection of songs that seamlessly picked up where To The Mountain left off. Critics were impressed, to say the least. FAME (acousticmusic.com) opined: "An interesting blend of folk grass, prog-grass, country, rock, and hillbilly plaint, Big Daddy Love's Let It Grow reminds strongly of the '60s and '70s when psychedelia and experimentation were entering the roots music genre quite handily, much thanks to the Dead, Barefoot Jerry, Kaleidoscope, and various ahead-of-their-time look-back-fondly groove merchants. The instrumental key is the up-front guitar work of Joey Recchio and banjo playing of Brian Swenk, a pair strikingly contrasted while perfectly indexed. Big Daddy Love, y'see, always cuts an eye to what most of us miss, and Daniel Smith is one hell of a composer, writer and singer. That's what those shivers climbing up your spine ...are telling you." John Shelton Ivany, the storied published, editor and music critic for magazines ranging from Hit Parade to Creem, stated in his blog (JSITop21.com) that "Big Daddy Love's Let It Grow combines rock and hillbilly with joy. This is truly an extraordinary album and you must check it out. One of the best albums of the year." Americana radio seemed to agree, and by the end of 2011, Big Daddy Love had hit #36 in the national AMA (Americana) charts, #5 in the Homegrown Music chart of specialty shows and had received a number of nominations for album of the year in multiple forums.
By the end of 2011 it was clear that BDL was one of the most important new bands to watch in the East Coast roots rock and Americana community. It was also clear that life on the road was taking it's toll on Daniel Smith, the band's lead singer and principal songwriter. In April of 2012, Smith resigned. His replacement was found in Scott Moss, the vocalist / songwriter and rhythm guitarist for Evergreen- a Shelby, NC country / bluegrass band- who shared the stage with BDL at a Little King showcase in Asheville. As much as Smith's departure impacted the band on a personal level, it provided an opportunity: his family obligations had been a limiting factor in the band's ability to tour and grow their fan base. With a fresh start and Moss on board, Swenk, Recchio, bassist Ashley Sutton and drummer Scotty Lewis made their first trip to Chicago and Colorado in May, 2012, and they are not looking back.
Essentially organic in both disposition and composition, Big Daddy Love's infectious positive energy, "on the sleeve" sincerity and first rate musicianship is a breath of fresh air in a roots Americana landscape that is more-and-more represented over the last few of years by bands from places far removed from the roots themselves, who have adopted a more cynical posture to the idiom. Big Daddy Love may well be the antidote to this erosion of the roots sound, despite being- in many ways- a blue collar rock band with Appalachian flavor.