What's shakin', Daddy-O?
By: Elise Hugus, July 19, 2011
Lace up your saddle oxfords and get that jelly roll just right, cool cats! The Cape's going to be antsville this weekend when Daddy-O comes to town!
Rocking the South Shore for the past 13 years, the band’s rockabilly doo-wop sound got a fresh voice in 2009 when 14 year-old Brenna Joyce, of Bourne, first took the stage.
Now 16, the Sturgis Charter Public School sophomore wows the crowds with her five-octave range and a growl that is anything but girlish.
Though it may seem odd to hear a teenager singing songs of the 50’s, Brenna evokes the youthful innocence of a by-gone era, says band leader RC.
“The music of that era appeals to people because it tells you to enjoy life, have fun, and make out. How can you argue with that?” he said in an interview with InsideOUT.
Coming of age in New Bedford during the heyday of rockabilly, RC started his musical career at the age of 13, playing in jazz clubs and later, the New Bedford and Newport symphony orchestras—and even a six-month stint touring with Buddy Guy.
“Rockabilly is what there was before everyone was calling it rock and roll,” he said.
“I look back and realize it was a great time to grow up. Social progressives say it wasn’t. But everything you needed was in your neighborhood, and everyone looked out for you. It’s not like that today.”
Rockabilly comes of age
RC turned Brenna onto the genre at age 14, while giving her voice and guitar lessons at Onset Village Music.
“For me, it started with Wanda Jackson’s ‘Let’s Have a Party.’ It’s such cool music, so simple but so real, so raw,” Brenna said over a milkshake at ‘50’s throwback Betsy’s Diner in Falmouth.
From those early beginnings, Brenna found inspiration in more current artists like Imelda May and Brian Setzer. As her talent grew, she borrowed a growl from Janis Joplin and a scream from Susan Tedeschi.
But her teacher recognized Brenna’s unique talent and dedication beyond her years. When she insisted on learning guitar—“I don’t want to just be a front girl with a band behind me,” she says—RC gave her a two-month deadline to get ready for her first gig at the annual Swan Festival in Wareham.
“Probably out of every 100 young students, one stands out with an innate passion for something. That was there immediately with Brenna,” he said.
After that first gig, Brenna was part of the band. With RC on lead guitar and vocals, “Special K” on bass, and JB on the drums, Daddy-O puts a new twist on “hardcore oldies” standards, from originals to covers of Elvis, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, and Johnny Cash.
A fan of more modern bands like Modest Mouse and Florence and the Machines, Brenna said she appreciates the chance to play professionally—and add her own flair to rockabilly favorites.
Watch out for the Daddy-O originals “Trouble” and “I’ll Cry No More,” to which Brenna lends her voice and songwriting talents.
She may be well on her way to becoming a rock star, but Brenna has no plans to try out for American Idol, or even major in music in college. She attributes her musical talents to her family, and chalks up her success to hard work and encouragement from her parents and RC.
As for RC, he is grateful to pass down a passion for the music to the next generation, whether on stage or on the dance floor.
“When you see people who are willing to put a lot of themselves into it, you want to give them the world,” he said.
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