Dan Riley

Dan Riley

I think I met Dan Riley at the Second Saturday Porch Jam over at the Knightsville General Store and Coffee House which he hosts. Dan has written more than 100 original songs since he was a teen — wow.

A fellow New Englander (I’m from Portland, Maine), Dan grew up in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Huh!

I had thought there was just a Portsmouth, New Hampshire and a Portsmouth, Virginia but, come to find out, there are seven states with a city of Portsmouth: Iowa, Kentucky, New Hampsire, North Carolilna, Ohio, Rhode Islan and Virginia. Hey, if you learn something new every day, you may just find yourself on Jeopardy.

Regan: Dan, how did you get into music at such an early age?

Riley: I grew up with my father playing guitar and piano singing songs from the 1960s and ‘70s. Both of my older brothers played guitar and so I was surrounded by music from an early age. I picked up the guitar at age 13 and quickly discovered it was easier for me to write my own music than to learn other people’s music. I started writing and have been crafting new songs ever since.

R: What singers/songwriters had the most influence on you and why (re: melody and/or lyrics?) Do you think melody is more important than lyrics or vice-versa?

R: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, James Taylor, John Mayer, Alexi Murdoch, Gregory Alan Isakov, Pierce Edens, Dan Htoo-Levine, Andrew Duhon, are just a few of the songwriters who have had an influence on me. In my opinion, melody and lyrics go hand-in-hand, so it’s hard to say that one is more important than the other as they work together to create an emotional experience.

R: How many instruments do you play? Have you always been a solo artist?

R: I mainly play guitar, but also play around with a few stringed instruments like ukulele, mandolin, and I play a very little bit on piano. I have played solo until the last year and a half to two years ago when I started jamming with a few different local musicians. Now, I play with others beyond just as a solo act, under the name Dan Riley & the Marvelous Misfits. The Marvelous Misfits vary from gig to gig but these are some of the musicians I have had the honor of playing with at one time or another — Perth Palmer, Bob Williams, Drewett Washington, Martin Butcher, Tadd Huff, Fleming Moore, Jerimiah King, Joshua Jarman, David Badillo, Hal Robinson, Robby Robbins, Stain Mains, Roger Mindwater, Keith Driver, David George Sink, Frank Sando, and Bobby Napier. This area is blessed with so many talented musicians that it’s usually not too hard to pull a band together, even at the last minute.

R: Do you have a “favorite song of all time” and, if so, what is it about that song that you think is so incredible? (For example, there are so many great songs but, if I had to pick just one, I think it would be “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes because of the orchestration, the lyrics, and everything—it’s just so classy and they don’t write songs like that anymore.

R: I have always had a hard time picking favorites, so here are a few of my favorites: “3 A.M.” by Gregory Alan Isakov, “Not Dark Yet” by Bob Dylan, “Orange Sky” by Alexi Murdoch, “Further Down” by Pierce Edens, and “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and so many more.

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.

R: Why “roots” music? Are there any other styles of music you’ve played or plan to play?

R: Roots is really a combination of many genres: folk, blues, rock, country, and bluegrass, I love playing in all those genres, but enjoy exploring all types of music.

R: You were instrumental in the recent Oct. 11th “Edisto Blackwater Boogie” over at Givhans Ferry State Park in Ridgeville along with the Dorchester County Parks & Recreation. How did that get started and how did it go? You even wrote a song, Edisto, from that day.

R: I dreamed up the original idea for the Edisto Blackwater Boogie after a kayak trip down the Edisto a few years ago. I discussed the idea with Earl Johnston with Edisto River Adventures, and Earl helped to get the ball rolling with Givhans Ferry State Park and the Dorchester County Parks and Recreation. The event went off better than we could have expected, with approximately 1,200 folks through the park over the weekend and we raised over $5,000 to help with improvements. You are right, after the event I was inspired to write a song, “Edisto”. It’s such a magical place. I believe we can learn a lot when we take the time to slow down and listen to the river.

R: You are working on an album—when is that coming out? What’s else is next for you?

R: I don’t currently have a release date for my album, but I hope to have it out in early 2020. I have a show this Friday,

November 22 at Coastal Coffee Roasters from 7-9 p.m., entitled “Waking Up”. It will be a new type of show format for me, done in the style of “VH1 Storytellers”, where I tell the stories behind the songs that I’m sharing. It will also be the first time I will be recording complete audio and video from one of my shows, so I am really hoping to have a full house! Other than that, we have already started planning the next Edisto Blackwater Boogie and will be hard at work putting that together as the new year approaches.

Mary E. Regan, Columnist, is a Publicist with her ProPublicist consultancy. Story ideas? Email: Mary@ProPublicist.com.