Who knew that an advertisement on Craigslist would lead to Herbie D and the Dangermen's swampy blend of Appalachian acoustic blues and New Orleans-style jump blues? That is exactly how Herbie Desseyn met Chris Gifford and, with the addition of fellow Dangermen Art Martin and Michael Salazar, the band has been entertaining thousands of fans from "empty nesters" to swing dance enthusiasts.
Crowds everywhere love the band's special acoustic blues style, which allows them to play any venue ranging from large stages to living rooms. And they deliver with a unique sound created by the inclusion of an upright bass, swapping out an electric guitar in favor of an acoustic guitar, and by replacing the traditional harmonica with a saxophone.
Meet the guys:
Herbie Desseyn (acoustic guitar, lead vocals) Raised in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Herbie's music experience includes him performing in local, regional, and national acts that put him in front of East Coast audiences dating back to the late 1960s.
"In the beginning, I was taught classical guitar in the finger style. Take that finger style, mix it with bluegrass, and then blend it with rock and roll, and you get my finger style of guitar playing, which is definitely blues-based with a lot of Appalachian flavor," says Herbie.
Fans can also expect to see Herbie playing resonator, electric lap steel, and several other string instruments.
Chris Gifford (upright bass, backing vocals) Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Chris started playing saxophone while in grade school but later took up electric bass because he felt he needed to work on his timing.
"When I started playing bass, it was a whole new experience. Music started to make more sense to me, I started hearing patterns that I never understood before. I actually felt that I found an instrument that I could speak through," Chris explains.
A member of the US Navy for 22 years, Chris also played in an alternative rock band while stationed in Germany. He decided to start playing upright bass in 2011.
Art Martin (saxophone, flute, backing vocals) Art is the Dangermen's master of horns, playing four variations of saxophone: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
"I like the different styles of music we play. I have the opportunity to play smooth, mellow melodic lines, low breathy passages, and all-out peel-the-paint wailing. The band really gives me a long leash and allows me to play pretty much what I want," says Art.
Art cites another reason for why playing in the band is so fulfilling for him: Because they are all friends. After 28 years in the military, camaraderie is something Art knows a lot about.
Michael Salazar (drums, percussion) Michael grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina and has played percussion since high school, where he held the #1 chair on his school's trap set.
"A drummer needs to keep the band in beat, but a good drummer must also be aware of what else is going on in the song. One time playing "Come Into My Kitchen", I realized if I skip the snare and kick beat every other time, you could really hear the bass run Chris was playing. That’s when you feel the magic of the song," says Michael.
A student of music theory, Michael fully engaged himself back into a life in music after more than twenty years in the armed forces.
Herbie D and the Dangermen have already released two CDs! The first, their self-titled EP "Herbie D and the Dangermen" (2012), includes four originals songs and one cover song. One of the tracks on that EP, "Baby, I'm On The Road", even received the music video treatment in March of 2013 and can be viewed on the band's YouTube channel.
The band's second CD, "Dangerous With Blues" (2013), was a full-length compilation released in 2013. The CD, which includes fan-favorite "Devil On My Shoulder", received a highly favorable review from www.Mary4Music.com.
Herbie D and the Dangermen also earned the right to represent the River City Blues Society of Virginia at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. With that notch in their belt, along with their continuing effort to expand their fan base and the cities in which they perform, the future is bright for this unique acoustic blues band!