Big Daddy Love plays Canyons Friday
Banjo master Brian Swenk has performed in Boone and Blowing Rock with a variety of bands, primarily the bluegrass and jazz combo Wiseapple and the high-energy string band Boss Hawg. Now, after relocating to Asheville three years ago, Swenk returns to the High Country with his latest band, Big Daddy Love.
Big Daddy Love will perform at Canyons of the Blue Ridge in Blowing Rock on Friday, Dec. 4. The show starts around 9 p.m. and admission is $5 per person.
Big Daddy Love features Swenk on electric banjo, Daniel Justin Smith on guitars and vocals, Joseph Reechio on guitar and vocals, Ashley Sutton on electric bass and vocals, and Steve Nalley on drums and percussion.
"We jokingly call ourselves an I-40 band because I live in Asheville and the other members are in Hickory and Winston-Salem," Swenk said. "Joseph plays electric guitar with a lot of slide that gives us a southern rock, Allman Brothers sound, while Daniel plays acoustic guitar and serves as the primary songwriter."
According to Swenk, Big Daddy Love's set-list is heavy on original material, but the band also likes to salute its bluegrass background by playing a few older standards in that genre every once in a while.
"We also play some Bela Fleck tunes, but mostly these are original tunes that we play," Swenk said. "It's definitely what we do best and what our audiences seem to like the most."
The band has been together for a couple of years under the Big Daddy Love banner, but has had a few personnel changes since forming. It will record its first album with the current lineup early next year.
"We're getting ready to record an album of original material at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville," Swenk said. "Aaron Price will be producing it, so we feel like the combination of our songs and his production will be an exciting mix."
Fans of the Avett Brothers will appreciate Big Daddy Love's high-energy songs, fast picking and tight vocal harmonies. Songs like "Circle Round the Sun" are quick-time dance floor favorites, while ballads like "Thicker Than Water" demonstrate how the band can summon that introspective southern rock tradition that lives on in bands like Drive-By Truckers.
"I had done literally thousands of live shows with previous bands," Swenk said. "I'd spent so much time on the road for precious little money, I thought that I was semi-retired from the whole touring music thing. Then I hooked up with these guys, and what we're doing is so fantastic that it got me back on the road.
"From the beginning, I just knew it was going to be something special. And it is."
In addition to Big Daddy Love's show at Canyons this Friday, the band will return to the High Country for a New Year's Eve show with local bluegrass favorites Lost Ridge at Murphy's Restaurant and Pub in Boone.
For more information on Friday's show, call Canyons of the Blue Ridge at (828) 295-7661. Canyons is located at 8960 Valley Blvd. in Blowing Rock.