It doesn’t sink in that I’m finally about to interview Pat Dailey – one of the coolest son-of-a-guns I’ve ever seen – until he shoots me a quick text, to change our meeting place.
“Swig in Perrysburg,” he suggests. Two or three beers apiece, along with chasers of belly laughs later, and we’ve chewed upon everything from baseball to island bar Tony’s Garage, to playing live music in said bar with cats named Dan, Mike, and Chuck.
Yes, the interview with the “Great Lakes Troubadour” aka the “South Bass Bard” – the iconic singer, songwriter and storyteller whose prolific work is as much a part of the summertime soundtrack around these parts as, say, Cedar Point, was one of the best in my career.
Reese Dailey shares a commanding stage persona
So was the one with his son Reese, a 49-year-old finance specialist with Mathews Ford in Oregon, who happens to be carrying on the Dailey family tradition of making music as the lead vocalist and guitarist for his Reese Dailey Band.
Reese has that famous Dailey grin, can spin yarns with the best of them and has a deep respect for his pops and the legacy he’s forged. Still, the younger Dailey and his boys want to sail in their own waters. Their music is a little more bluesy than Pat’s – decidedly more Southern rock, and less folky. It’s a little darker and more “slice-of-life.” Still a good time and danceable.
“It’s a funny thing actually, because in a very real sense, my dad’s not been very supportive at all,” shares Reese as he reflects on growing up on the west side of Chicago, where he got to watch his father collaborate with late author, cartoonist and singer-songwriter Sheldon Silverstein (“Where the Sidewalk Ends”) on what would become the impetus of many a Pat Dailey island-flavored, nautically-themed tunes, including “Walleye Willie,” “On the Water” (for which the pair would win a Telly, for its use in a TV commercial) and the children’s album “Underwater Land” to name a few.
It was a time that first inspired the son to pick up a guitar, and later start gigging around Chicago at high school parties, much to the dad’s chagrin. “I can actually hear him say to me, ‘Learn how to do a job. The music business is too tough; it doesn’t pay. Go out and find something that will make you money’,” remembers the younger Dailey.
“He tried to talk me out of music, because he knew he’d had a hard life, being divorced, with three kids (Reese has two brothers, Kevin, 48, and Tom, 43), and trying to make ends meet,” he said. “Often, he’d play six nights a week, and when you’re drinking six nights a week, that’s a hard way of life. So, he succeeded in talking me away from it and it worked for about 20 years, until music pulled my heart back.
“I had moved to Cleveland right around the age of 22, and started bartending. I got into the title insurance business, which I did for about 20 years, and was making good money. I was just having a lot of fun in life, boating, traveling, and playing baseball,” continues Reese. “But something was always missing, and that something was music.
“I just thought to myself, ‘I’m not going to spend the last half of my life wondering what this music thing could’ve been,’” he said.
“I got out of the title business. I got some guys together, and we formed a band. Then I played with some other guys, and we ended up playing together in the band we’re in today,” he said.
“My dad was totally against the whole idea, until I’d been playing for about four years. In that time, our band had gotten to the point where we were playing for him, then with him, and he saw how people were kind of making a big deal out of us,” Reese said. “Then our album came out, and he was like, ‘Boy. . .where did you come from?’ Ever since, he’s been taking us really seriously.”
And who can blame him? It takes only a quick listen to the RDB’s debut album “Simpatico,” released in 2010 by Olympia Records, Inc. out of Put-in-Bay, to discern that this is one exciting collection of musicians steeped in dedication, electric chemistry, tight musical chops, a loose sense of fun, and perhaps most importantly that oldest, purest, most-timeless form of American music, the blues.
The disc’s opening track, “Live it Up” – a sexy, mid-tempo blues number features Reese and pops Pat trading off on growling out the verses about getting up, dusting yourself off and celebrating life after being down for so long.
The buoyant “Save Me,” has meaning to Reese as it tells of trials, tribulations, wreckage and rebirth that he went through in an earlier time in his life, carried along by lyrics that proclaim, “Save me, take me, away from here/See me, for who I really am, and love me, dear.”
Though just as quickly as “Simpatico” takes you soaring up into the light, it also drops you back down into the depths, as on offerings like “Detroit,” with dark, foreboding undercurrents that lament the glut of foreign cars currently choking the life out of American streets.
Guitarist Mike Cleveland’s hotshot fret work is both tempered in a harder-edged, rock-n-roll vein and seasoned from approximately 15 years of touring with regional favorites All Hail Me. He also stands in as the band’s “Wizard Behind the Curtain” when it comes to matters of mixing the RDB’s sound both in-studio and live.
Bass player Dan Langguth, a Chicago native, grew up with Reese and played in the same high school band, brings a myriad of experience and style to the game, having gigged everywhere from churches, to Chicago’s seediest clubs, to the national stage.
The RDB is what Reese likes to call “Americana.”
“I like to think our sound catches a whole bunch of different styles. I grew up on Southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Charlie Daniels Band, so that’s there. There’s a little bit of country in there, because my parents raised me on it. The blues is in there. My dad’s songwriting style is in there, since I used to watch him write. There are lyrics that take you somewhere, that tell you a story, rather than just a few catchy lines. There’s good, hard, driving guitar, and slide guitar. It’s Americana.”