interview: E.G. McDaniel
Tune into Sonia’s Blues Drive program on WMSE to listen to her chat with musician, E.G. McDaniel.
Why do they call Greg McDaniel a “Son of the Blues”? Because he is the son of a Chicago blues icon, guitarist Floyd McDaniel, and Bessie Jackson, a singer and jazz pianist. The senior McDaniel started singing with the legendary Ink Spots in 1930 and played guitar with such greats as Cab Calloway, Fats Waller and Billie Holiday. Floyd McDaniel went on to fame in the ’40s and ’50s by forming his own band, the Four Blazes. His contemporaries were such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald. And he was still a celebrated soloist with The Blues Swingers when he died at the age of 80.
Learning at his father’s knee, Greg McDaniel’s career was launched at the age of seven when he started performing on stage with his father. But Greg is now recognized in his own right as a seasoned bass player and appears with big-name bands across the US, in Canada and abroad.
“One lesson my father taught me,” Greg says, “is to be a good listener whenever I work with another artist. My Dad used to say, ‘The Blues is about a feeling.’ If I can get into the head and the heart of what my fellow performers are feeling, then I can back them up with the kind of bass playing they need.”
“Thanks to my Dad,” Greg says, “I was able to launch my own career when my dad introduced me to Byther Smith.” Then, after touring Europe with Byther Smith and The Night Riders in ’97, Greg appeared on Byther Smith’s CD, “All Night Long.”
The presence of Greg’s bass has empowered such bands as Eddy (The Chief) Clearwater, Brothers of Groove, Patty McCulla Band, Bumble Bee Bob & The Stingers and Mississippi Heat.
Whether on electric bass or acoustic bass, Greg has shared the stage with a host of blues, jazz and rock artists. Among them: Junior Wells, Abbe Locke, Jimmy Dawkins, Carey Bell, Barkin Bill, Buddy Guy, Zora Young, Bill McFarland, Sonny Seals, A.C. Reed, James Wheeler, Pierre LaCocque, Billy Boy Arnold, Carl Weathersby, Pat Soul, Karen Caroll, Barrel House Chuck, Ken Sadak, John Primer and Steve Arvey.
He has opened for such headliners as Huey Lewis & The News and Blue Oyster Cult. He has appeared regularly at the Chicago Blues Fest with such greats as Erwin Helfer, Katherine Davis, Jimmy Johnson, S.P. Leary, Kenny Smith, Kim Wilson, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Dave Myers.