Joel DaSilva: A Beautiful Guitar Gives Me An Instant Hard-On
Photo by Janette Valentine
Joel DaSilva's been a scene fixture around South Florida for more than a decade. Although he built up quite a notoriety fronting the surf-rockabilly outfit the Hep Cat Boo Daddies, now the 34-year-old's rolling solo as Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl (Facebook). Artistically, things have shifted very loosely to blues -- but the band's self-titled CD is all over the map. "Hangin' On" and "Boogie Real Low" both are forward-thinking tracks that aren't too far off from the Black Keys' dusty tracks, and "Try" is one of several acoustic-based songs on the disc that are much closer to a singer-songwriter approach.
An veritable South Florida all-star band was assembled for the recording. Among the guests are area blues luminary Albert Castiglia, Castiglia's bassist A.J. Kelly, and J.P. Soars and the Red Hots' drummer Chris Peet. And folks can get their paws on Joel DaSilva and the Midnight Howl Saturday at Satchmo Blues Bar in Fort Lauderdale.
County Grind caught up with DaSilva during a break from his day gig in the shipping and receiving department at Holman Honda in Fort Lauderdale to discuss Jimmy Pagano's legacy, the horror movie he's in, and the most expensive guitar he's ever played.
County Grind: Where do you see things going with your new blues project in the future?
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Joel DaSilva: This album I'm focusing more in a blues-rock genre. With the
new guys [bassist Tom Coughter, keyboardist Scott Rowell and drummer Stefano Rotati], we're already writing material for the second album, and maybe
a live album more in the vein of the Black Keys and more in the vein of
Medeski Martin and Wood. Maybe J.J. Grey. More vocals, more keyboards,
less guitar in your face solos. There will be solos, but it's leaning
more towards songs instead of guitar all the time. Blues is a
bad word for some people. When a certain demographic hears that they get
turned off. You don't have to call it blues, it's just good music.
How has your wardrobe changed since you drifted away from rockabilly?
I'll wear a pair of cool jeans and some old-school Chuck Taylors, and
certain times, I like to dress all Mad Men style, with the slicked up
hair and suit and boots. Depends on the kind of mood I'm in. I wear a
tail now at some gigs.
It's fake. It's a fake
wolf's tail a friend of mine got me. I attach it to my jeans or slacks
on the little loop there in the back. It matches the band name [laughs].
Chicks are like, "Wow, can I touch your tail, man?" People always
remember the tail, but I don't wear it a lot. When I'm feeling
How did area promoter-drummer Jimmy Pagano's death affect you?
He was really nice to me, and a lot of other people. Every time I saw him, big smile, and good handshake, and we always let him sit in when we performed "Voodoo Chile." You
never know when your time's gonna be. I learned this from a guy I went
on tour with, Grady Champion, always play like it's your last night on
earth. And always play like there's one, or a thousand, or a million
people in the room.
What's up with Sleep, the movie that you acted in?
The director Keary Cunningham wrapped it about five months ago. I'm doing the soundtrack
with the keyboardist in my group, Scott Rowell. And it's a John
Carpenter-ish soundtrack. I play a sheriff in the movie. It's
about two kids who go into the Everglades in 1977 -- an only one of
them walks out. It's a creepy, moody short film. He's hopefully going to
send it to FLIFF and SXSW. Next, I'd like to do a zombie movie. Maybe a zombie
who falls in love with a normal person, like Twilight. Call it Breaking Blood [laughs].
What's the sensation you get when you're looking at vintage instruments?
"I can't afford this shit." That's where my mind goes. It's beautiful,
man. I get an instant hard-on when I look at a beautiful guitar or a
classic car. It's like a woman. The curves, and the paint and the
finish. I remember one time, my wife and I walked into Guitar Center.
They had a Stevie Ray Vaughan Fender limited edition copy -- even down
to the cigarette burn details -- of his signature guitar called Lenny,
named after his wife. I thought it was going to be some mass-produced
thing that you could pick up off the wall. When I walked into the
vintage area of the store and asked to play the Lenny guitar, and [makes
walkie talkie noise] "We have a customer who wants to play Lenny right
away." They bring two people out of the back, and I feel like I'm going
into Fort Knox or something. It played beautifully, but it was like
$30,000 or something.
Joel DaSilva & the Midnight Howl CD Release Show. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 19 at Satchmo Blues Bar, 2871 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $10, plus a free drink. Click here.
Friday, December 2 at The Big Easy, 1925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.
Saturday, December 3 at The Orange Door, 798 10th St., Lake Park.
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