Daddy-O dance tunes
The Twilight Drifters’ rockabilly for the 21st century
Is it a hot rod or a hot woman? That’s the million-dollar question in “Round Curves”, The Twilight Drifters’ new tune.
“Took my baby out for a drive / with the moon shining way up high,” Geoffrey Miller sings, remembering a midnight joyride over brooding twang. “Took her up to a lookout spot / when we got there, heard her cry ’Please don’t stop,’ / Over the hill, I felt my nerves / The engines rev and the tires burn / going downhill fast round curves.”
It’s part of a long tradition of rock ’n’ roll songs marked with double entendres. In the music video that premiered March 3, classic cars and beautiful women flash between the music trio, sharply dressed and shadow-cast.
“It’s designed to convey a notion of danger and indulgence in the same breath,” Miller says.
He loves old automobiles and 1950s iconography: Gene Vincent, Johnny Burnette and Elvis Presley. Rock progenitors and Americana culture inspire the retro sound of The Twilight Drifters, a Sacramento rockabilly band (and 2019 SAMMIES nominee) that turns 10 this year.
“[Rockabilly] reflects a time where there was a convergence of rhythm and blues, country and swing,” Miller says. “It’s those raw styles put together. But then it’s also the lyrical content and energy; your conjuring up images from the time.”
But you don’t need a time machine to get it, Marty McFly. Instead, listen to the new album, 10 Lively Melodies, released March 8. The song “Driftin’ In The Twilight” is a lonely anthem for a drunken walk home thinking about someone else—sax, keys, bass and percussion blustering out of a honky-tonk after hours and into darkened street corners.
“There’s so much happening musically in the world today, this is one of those sounds that really is a good conductor for those emotions overall.” Miller says. “It’s universally relatable.”
Other songs on the new album have a light heart and danceable beat, including “Daddy-O Issues,” a tune about a woman with incurable hep-cat fever. She goes from one vintage-obsessed ex to another slick-haired charmer.
The album is fun, distinctly 1950s and timeless, spelling an evolution for a band that started out playing country and moved to rockabilly. Its first two records sported vintage vibes, but this one, adding new players such as veteran saxophonist Danny Sandoval, ventures into R&B with the help of producer Chris “Kid” Andersen, who plays with the local jazz legends Rick Estrin & the Nightcats.
Sacramento’s close-knit rockabilly scene has a rich history. Bob Wills, the King of Western Swing, lived here. It means bands such as The Twilight Drifters, Frankie and the Defenders and Dyana and The Cherry Kings together carry a local tradition forward, Miller says.
“I think that means a lot to us,” he says. “We’re all supportive of each other and the music that we play.”