Most singer-songwriters can deliver an evening of music that will please a crowd. Few can leave their audience with the feelings that arise from a short time spent in the fine company of international Hall of Famer, Danny Mack.
Danny doesn’t just sing songs. He lives them. There’s a passion that comes from deep within this road warrior, who has literally been there and done that. He takes his audience on a journey they won’t forget and when he's done you have experienced a life less ordinary.
From his early beginnings in Vancouver, Canada, where he was entranced by the birth of rock’n’roll and rhythm’n’blues, performing music has been as necessary to this storyteller as breathing in and out.
“I don’t play music because I want to. It’s a need – a drive to stay alive – that makes me pick up my guitar,” Danny says. “I call it medicine for the soul.”
And, since moving to Australia from Canada in 2005 with his wife, partner and soul mate, Bonnie, that good medicine has been just the tonic for audiences at festivals from Tamworth to Gympie and beyond.
A prolific songwriter, Danny easily slides into a venue, engages, entertains and moves his audience. Difficult to pigeonhole, his music is a multitude of influences. In any Danny Mack performance you could be treated to blues, R&B, country, folk, rock and soul. It's not just a performance, however. With Danny Mack it's an experience.
“I was taught at an early age that the most important thing in music was the feel, the groove … and most importantly, no matter what you’re singing or playing, always do it with soul. If you don’t feel it, you don’t present it in its finest form,” Danny says.
With early tutors and inspirations such as Hank Williams, Leadbelly, Johnny Cash, BB King, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Tommy Chong (of Cheech and Chong fame), the world of music has been spread across a broad canvas for this troubadour whose journey has literally taken him millions of miles around the globe.
The kid, 1956 aged 12
In a career spanning some four and a half decades, Danny has shared the stage with such luminaries as Bill Chambers, Stuie French, Corb Lund, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, BB King, The Doors, The Guess Who, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Byrds, John Lee Hooker, Don Gibson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Commander Cody and more.
Every day upon waking, Danny is thrilled to know he can perform music, whether it’s for the pleasure of family and friends, an intimate audience at a supper club, or a festival with an audience of thousands. It matters not who’s out there listening. With Danny – music is life.
Mack began his professional career as a Vancouver teenager with a dream and from the outset, his musical interests seemed destined to be ahead of their time. He spent his high school years belting out Rhythm & Blues with his first band THE VAN-DELS and later in Alberta as he joined forces with THE BANFF PLAYBOYS. Performing under the name DANNY SOUL, he worked audiences into a frenzy with James Brown like gyrations and danceable, soulful R&B.
In the mid-sixties Mack heard about a new surge of underground music back in his native Vancouver. Danny jumped on the next bus back home and on his arrival was recruited as a lead singer for the psychedelic rock band THE FANTASTIC SENSATIONS, a regular at Vancouver's first lightshow club, "The Afterthought". Next for Mack was the forming of THE HYDRO ELECTRIC STREETCAR, a pioneering Acid-Rock group, which among other things, was one of the first acts in the world to incorporate a Moog Synthesizer into live performance.
In the early seventies Danny formed the country rock outfit, FIREWEED which was solely responsible for introducing country music to western Canada's rock and roll clubs. FIREWEED went on to tour and record an album with native spokesman and actor Chief Dan George.
Through the mid seventies Mack delved deeper into country music with the formation of the CEMENT CITY COWBOYS. The COWBOYS began as a four piece outlaw band which evolved into an eight piece western swing unit that played to packed houses at Vancouver's famous COMMODORE BALLROOM. By the late seventies Mack was once again on his way to Alberta to further his pursuit of the perfect country and western song. With his group ALBERTA CRUDE he managed to become a fixture in Calgary's then flourishing live performance music scene, as well as a regular at rodeo dances in Alberta and Saskatchewan. During this time he recorded the critically acclaimed self-titled album "DANNY MACK".
The '80s found Dan on the move. He spent time in New York City where he played such noted venues as The Lone Star Cafe and the Village Gate. He then flew off to Amsterdam in '86 and backed by the Dutch group WOODY AND THE SIDEMEN did twenty four one-nighters in Holland. These included dates at the world famous MILKY WAY and PARADISO clubs.
On his return to Canada, Mack took a different turn as he disappeared into the movie and television business working as an actor, stand-in, then writer and performer of motion picture soundtracks. He worked on such productions as The X-Files, Poltergeist the Legacy, Dead Man's Gun & Millennium.
Although the film industry treated Danny very well he constantly felt the pull back to music and in 1999 Danny Mack returned to his true passion; a roots songwriter and singer. With yet another refreshing take on musical styles, he released "I'M ALRIGHT NOW", an acoustic, contemporary folk, sometimes satirical look at relationships, politics and the human condition.
In 2001, building on fast friendships formed while working on the TV series Poltergeist the Legacy, Danny was given the opportunity to participate in the making of and to create the soundtrack for the feature film "WE ALL FALL DOWN". This in turn lead to the release of the CD titled "WE ALL FALL DOWN" which includes three original songs from the film along with a collection of hard knock-about songs that mirror the movie's stark subject matter. "WE ALL FALL DOWN" is a gritty unflinching cityscape - Mack 'telling it like it is' as always.
By 2003 Danny had a hankering for his first love Honky-Tonk - a musical style that is fast disappearing. Writing and singing better than ever, Danny recorded the 'Where Buck Rogers Meets Roy Rogers' concept album titled "GALAXY CABARET". This is the real deal - a full on honky-tonkin', two steppin', country shufflin', steel guitar driven little beauty. Singles from this album have received great airplay throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
When in Canada, Danny spends much of his time on the road playing concerts, festivals, Rodeos and other Cowboy gatherings. Over the past several years Danny has been invited to play concerts with the British Columbia Cowboy Heritage Society; an organisation committed to celebrating and preserving cowboy culture.
2005 saw the release of another new album "RIDE ME DOWN EASY". This was a departure for Mack, in that it includes some covers. Great old songs such as Jimmy Wakely's "TOO LATE", Bill Joe Shaver's "RIDE ME DOWN EASY" as well as new songs like Kasey Chambers' "NULLARBOR SONG". As Danny himself put it, 'Over the years I have learned, performed and recorded hundreds of songs most of which I have forgotten. Every once in a while I come across a brilliantly crafted song that I just can't get out of my mind."
Never one to stagnate, the intervening years saw Mack tour the length and breadth of the country and was a regular and popular feature at premier festival events such as the Tamworth Country Music Festival the the Gypie Muster.
2010 saw the release of the critically acclaimed, contemporary roots/country/folk masterpiece, "WHAT BRINGS THE WIND", a collaboration between Mack and Justin Brady of "Things of Stone and Wood" fame.
Right now Danny has a raft of projects on the boil including Danny Mack and the Shuffle Dawgs , an energetic Blues and R&B outfit that harks back to his musical roots and featuring some of Australia's top Blues musicians, Folk and Country solo and band projects that cover the gamut from traditional to contemporary and even the early workings of a one man stage show.
Danny Mack has always been a whirlwind but, with his creative juices flowing of late, the troubadour has turned into a tornado.