OH YEAH! R.C. (Robert Chandler) on guitar and vocals, Special “K” (Bill Kirby) on slap bass and vocals, and Brenna (Brenna Joyce) on guitar and vocals are Daddy-O!
Brenna Joyce aids rockabilly revival
Most high school kids like to spend their weekend nights hanging with their friends, maybe texting the latest gossip, or trying to figure out what their next teenage exploit will be. Sturgis East Charter Public School senior Brenna Joyce loves doing stuff like that as well, but for the last four years many of her weekend nights have been spent performing with Daddy-O!, one of the area’s hottest rockabilly bands.
“I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like, especially in the summer,” said Joyce. “Most of them have regular day jobs, so I can’t spend time with them during the day, and at night I’m doing my thing with Daddy-O!”
The talented Bourne 18-year-old was taking guitar lessons at Onset Village Music with Robert Chandler, better known as R.C., when he spotted the then-14-year-old’s outstanding talent and asked her to join his rockabilly band. Even though the music she sings was popular back in her grandparents’ days, it was quickly apparent that her five-octave vocal range and style was a perfect fit for the music that presaged rock and roll.
Rockabilly began in the early 1950’s as a fusion of country and newly emerging rock and roll, creating a new sound uniquely American. The genre took off with early innovators like Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson and others who became the shaping influence of 1960s rock groups like the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.
“It’s funny because I have a different perspective about the music I sing with the band,” said Joyce. “For a lot of people. the music considered the beginning stages of rock and roll is nostalgic. But for me I see it as new and fresh. I love the vitality and the vibrancy of it.”
Joyce explains that her generation doesn’t favor rockabilly, but she felt an immediate kinship.
“Most kids my age around here aren’t really into country music, but the first time I heard Patsy Cline I fell in love with her,” said the singer. “I then heard Wanda Jackson, who many call the ‘Queen of Rockabilly,’ and I knew I was hooked.”
Trying to pin Joyce down to one particular style is very difficult. The latest CD from Daddy-O!, The Way I Walk, features Joyce, RC and Bill “Special K” Kirby on stand-up slap bass in a mix of rockabilly, blues, doo wop, swing and traditional rock and roll. The trio delivers a rich, full sound with RC and Special K propelling them with a driving beat, but when Joyce steps up to the microphone with her powerful voice, the music comes alive.
“I almost don’t remember what life was like before Daddy-O!” she said. “It’s been so much fun. I enjoy every minute of it.”
Minutes must be precious in the busy teenager’s life which between school and performing is a huge juggling act felt even more so as her senior year at Sturgis comes to an end. Besides her music she also has a love of theater and has appeared in most of her school’s tproductions the last four years, including a starring role in The Laramie Project in her junior year.
“I love Sturgis, I can’t imagine myself going anyplace else, it’s been an incredible experience,” said Joyce, who still hasn’t decided which college she will be going to next year.
“I’ve applied to four colleges in New York City,” she said. “I have been accepted at one, but it’s not my first choice, so I’m still anxiously waiting to hear from the others.
You might think that wherever she goes it would be for a degree in the performing arts, but Joyce isn’t just a one- or two-trick pony. She also takes her academics seriously.
“I’m not going to college for music or theater,” said the talented young lady. “My plans are to major in anthropology and biology.”
It’s pretty apparent talking to Joyce that whatever she does in her life she will end up singing a happy tune.
The Daddy-O! website is www.daddy-o.us