Go Daddy-O! Rockabilly band is happenin'

By Jaime Rebhan | Apr 03, 2013
Courtesy of: Daddy-O Robert "R.C." Chandler, Bill "Special K" Kirby, and Brenna Joyce of Daddy-O.

Rockabilly legend Carl Perkins once said, "That rockabilly sound wasn't as simple as I thought it was."

But you wouldn't know that from watching Daddy-O.

The members of the three-piece, who hail from Wareham, Bourne, and New Bedford, make rockabilly look easy.

Wareham resident Robert "R.C." Chandler, a staunch rockabilly fan with 48 years of musical experience, founded the band in 1999. Bill "Special K" Kirby of New Bedford, a longtime friend of R.C., joined immediately.

The band went through a few incarnations until about a decade later, when guitarist/vocalist R.C.recruited then-14-year-old Brenna Joyce of Bourne, whose throaty sound is about as mature -- and as rockabilly -- as it gets.

Now, R.C., Brenna, and Special K have honed the band's sound, have just released an album of both covers and original songs on R.C.'s Wewecan Records, and are optimistic about what's next.

"Brenna changed the whole dynamic of the band," said R.C., who met the young Brenna when she began taking guitar lessons with him at Onset Village Music. He joked: "Now, we don't have to worry what we look like!"

Special K, who plays slap bass for the band, adds: "Just having that female vocal changes you."

It was serendipitous, really.

"I always feel like my prime responsibility is to inspire," R.C. said of teaching. And he certainly inspired Brenna.

R.C. gave her a CD with several songs by female vocalists. Many of those were of the rock-and-roll and rockabilly sound.

Guess which songs Brenna wanted to play?

"I learned by songs," the now-18-year-old said, noting that she just naturally gravitated toward rockabilly.

Of joining the band, Brenna says, "it just really allowed me to think outside the box. ... I feel when you have an appreciation for different styles of music, it makes you a better musician."

R.C. started his musical career with classical percussion. He has loved rockabilly since he was a boy, and can remember the times his dad bringing home new records.

"He just loved music," R.C. said of his father. "There's a duet that Brenna and I do, called 'Love is Strange,' and I can remember when my dad brought that recording, and I fell in love with it."

When he started Daddy-O, R.C. was adamant that people who stopped by a performance get the full rockabilly experience. The trio dresses in clothing that would be typical of what one would see at a dance in the 1950s.

"The audience has got to be made to feel like it's a part of what you're doing," says R.C.

The reaction from the crowds -- both young and old -- has been a good one.

"Everyone goes, 'Ahhhh.'" says Special K, who is a paint manufacturer by day.

R.C. continues: "They react to it."

And Special K agrees: "That, they do."

Brenna attends Sturgis Charter Public School in Hyannis Port, and admits that her job is a bit unusual for a teen.

"Mostly, what it interferes with, is social life," Brenna says. "My friends work during the day, and I work during the night."

She'll graduate this year, and says she'll most likely be going to college next year. She's interested in anthropology and biology.

It's not clear what may happen to the band at that point.

"If Brenna has to go away to school," R.C. says, "I'll deal with it then."

For now, the band has gigs anywhere from two to four times a week, from this area to down Cape Cod and beyond.

Upcoming gigs are listed on the band's website, www.daddy-o.us. CDs can also be ordered online.

"We've not had, ever, a bad gig," says R.C. "We always, always have fun. No matter what."

See a live show, and it's clear that's true.

Daddy-O at the 2010 Swan Festival
In one of her first performances, Brenna Joyce performs with Daddy-O at the 2010 Swan Festival in Wareham. (Video by: Jaime Rebhan)
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