Sometimes Later Band: We Play the Music You Like to Hear
By Mary Ellen Thompson | A band, in and of itself, is not an entity, especially one that came together randomly; it is disparate, a sum of its parts. Each person’s story contributes essentially to its formation, its success, and its personality. But, that’s what makes it interesting.
Steve Danko – 6 and 12 String Guitar and Vocals
Richard Darby – 6 and 12 String Guitar and Percussion
Tom Cox – Bass Guitar
Dick Nalwasky – Harmonica
How the band got its name:
Beek Webb’s bluegrass jam sessions at the Foolish Frog were posted as music being played from “7 – 9 p.m., and sometimes later.” The bluegrass musicians usually left early and this group stayed as long as they had an audience.
Steve came to Beaufort in 1985. “I grew up in Barberton, OH and Columbia, SC in a house where music was always playing, records were stacked up on the hi-fi. I took piano lessons, and played the trombone and tuba in high school. In college, at Clemson, I played the tuba in a marching band with which I got to go to five bowl games concluding with winning the national championship. “When my little sisters were still in high school they wanted to go to a concert, but my father said they couldn’t go unless I accompanied them. The concert was by an artist I had never heard of before, John Denver! I liked it and him so much that I went home and bought a guitar and started teaching myself to play. I played by myself until I came to Beaufort and got involved with Beek Webb’s Bible School Group, so named because it was a little building where we practiced that had once been a Bible school.”
“In the 60’s folk era I sold my Gibson guitar, selling that guitar is a decision I regret today, for an acoustic guitar. I taught myself to finger pick, playing wherever I could and with whomever I could. Somewhere along the line, life got in the way and I stopped playing; why I cannot remember. Fast forward 20 years. A friend of mine custom built a steel string guitar with a classical wide neck which I coveted, I told him if he ever sold it, I would buy it, and eventually I did. I still play that guitar today in the band. About 10 years ago, I stopped playing and didn’t play again until I got to Beaufort in 2009.
Playing in this band is a dream come true, one of the things I decided I wanted in my life was to perform.” Richard and his wife, Barbara, were headed to Panama for retirement, but fell a bit short of their destination and ended up here.
“I grew in Indianapolis. When I was in grade school, they were looking for a bass violin player, I played classical music in the school orchestra from sixth grade through high school. When I was in college at Perdue University, the bass violin wasn’t very popular so I traded it for a bass guitar. I played whenever I could. I’ve needed to play ever since, it’s therapy, it keeps me sane.”
Tom came to Beaufort by way of Savannah. He and his wife, Anita, rented a house in Tybee Island, then Dick got a job in Beaufort so they moved here. Then he got a job in Savannah so now he lives in Beaufort and works as accountant is Savannah.
Dick grew up in New Jersey and moved to Pittsburgh after college, where he owned a small steel distributorship. He started playing the harmonica when he was five, took accordion lessons in his younger days and is a very accomplished musician. His harmonica kit includes 11 harmonicas all in different keys. He loves to play so much that he even plays while he is driving!
He and his wife Celeste came to Beaufort six years ago after searching the East Coast for a warmer weather home. Sailors, Dick and Celeste had come through Beaufort on their boat on their way from Florida to the Chesapeake Bay.
“We play the music you like to hear!” – An eclectic blend of folk, rock, Irish, and Western. When they play in a bar or restaurant, their sound is “softer” – the volume is adjusted so you can hear, talk, enjoy the music as well as your companions, and not be overpowered by the volume.
The Men Behind the Instruments:
The Sometimes Later Band members are blue jean boys, the authentic Levi variety; casual fit – no pretense, no embellishment, no designer labels. Just conscientious, affable guys who love to play music and are continually creating a sound of self expression. Their casual appearance and ease belies the hard work that goes into creating their own unique approach to the music.
Behind Richard’s ever present smile lies an impish mischievousness and evident sense of good humor. His curiosity and sense of adventure are a touchstone for his creativity. Tom’s serious side slips away as he tells tales about himself, such as having a yardstick taped to his arm in 6th grade when his teacher, Mrs. Brown, was instructing him how to keep his bow straight; or reminisces about his days in the “Fabulous Danger Boys Band” back in Indiana. When Dick gets going on that harmonica, he spins and dances and tips his cap as he gets lost in his sheer enjoyment of playing the music. And when Steve wraps his clear vocal accompaniment around the lyrics of Summertime, the result is that the music has a barely perceptible but still noticeable hauntingly ethereal quality. It makes you want to recline under a magnolia tree, sip a mint julep and drift into a fog of hot summer nights, catching fireflies and fond memories. Although each of the components is evident and distinctive, nevertheless it is one enveloping and cohesive sound that the audience experiences. All in all, the Sometimes Later Band’s music has a quality of friendship about it, an intimacy, like they are singing around a campfire with old friends.
How They Came Together:
Steve: Started playing in Beek‘s bluegrass jamming sessions at the Foolish Frog. The rest of them met there. After the bluegrass musicians stopped playing for the night, Steve felt he was just getting warmed up and wanted to keep playing. “I loved it when the audience and other musicians would join in the music and sing along.”
Richard: “Steve and I met at the weekly bluegrass jam that was at the Foolish Frog Restaurant on St. Helena’s Island. We both preferred playing folk rather than bluegrass and several months later, the idea of Sometimes Later began to become a reality.”
Tom: “I ran into Steve just playing around town. At one point I was too shy to play in public but my wife encouraged me; I played with Irene Goodnight and Tina Fripp. One night the band asked me to sit in, so I came to play with them and it’s worked out well.”
Dick: Richard and Steve were playing together when Dick dove right in on his harmonica. “I fell away from playing til I came here, I heard about the jam session and wanted a local connection.” Dick occasionally played with other local musicians, such as Kirk O’Leary, to gain experience and to see if had the “right stuff” to go forward with his music. When Dick joined the band, he quickly became the band’s manager.
Humorous Musical Memories:
Steve: “I became enamored with Irish folk music while attending a conference in New Orleans. We closed the place down four nights in a row. Just a few years ago, I took a week long tour of pubs (and Guinness), and traditional music (and Guinness) in Ireland driving from Dublin to the west coast and back with a friend who also attended the conference in New Orleans.”
Richard: “In junior high school on Long Island NY, I took up the clarinet; after six months my instructor told me to try another instrument. So in high school, I bought a used solid body wood Gibson Les Paul Junior (it seemed to weigh a ton!) and formed a 5 piece rock band that played most of our high-school dances. Six months later, my voice changed and the band members kicked me out of ‘my’ band!”
Tom: “When I was in the sixth grade in Mrs. E’s vocal music class; she had an accent and every time she said ‘third’ it came out as ‘turd.’”
Dick: “When I was a teenager my mother told me to enter a talent show in which I played Lady of Spain on the accordion.” Did he win any accolades in that show? The answer was flat out, “No!”
Richard: “We have all hitched ourselves onto Steve’s star. What I think distinguishes Steve’s playing and singing is the fact that he is a storyteller. The songs we play have emotional content that come out, not only in the lyrics, but also in the arrangements. When I first met Steve and we were beginning to play together, he would tell me my playing was technically good but I played mechanically. ‘You’ve got to feel the song’, he would say. I would nod my head and think to myself that he was being a bit ridiculous. Now, after a year of playing together, I understand just where he is coming from.
Steve is a storyteller – a troubadour – a lyric poet. If he doesn’t feel the emotional content, he won’t play it. In fact, as a band, we all feel that way. One or another of us will bring a song to practice thinking that they may work for our ‘sound’. But, if we cannot get the emotion into the song musically, we will not perform it. There are several songs we have practiced the whole time we have been together that we have yet to perform because we cannot make the arrangement work to enhance the emotional content. But, we will continue to work on them until we get it just right.”
Steve: “I heartily concur with violinist and orchestra leader Andre Rieu who states that ‘music creates energy.’ Attend a live concert or musical theater and discover for yourself. I encourage everyone to pick up an instrument, bring along the family, join in the fun and experience the magic.”
“We’re ascending; we’re always learning; we’re always introducing new music and new styles of music. We want to be more then a jam band, we want to be more polished. We want to get to the next level and play in a greater regional area.”
Memorial Day Weekend: Mossy Oaks Music Park Bluegrass Festival Festival in Guyton, Georgia.
May 3: Lowcountry Produce
As soon as the weather warms up: The Back Porch Grill
The band also enjoys concert events at Randy Woods Guitar Shop in Bloomingdale, Georgia.
Story by Mary Ellen Thompson, photos by Paul Nurnburg, for Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine.
Published bi-monthly, Beaufort Lifestyle is a classy, sophisticated publication about the wonderful people, places and events of Beaufort, Port Royal and the Sea Islands. Grab your free copy at any one of 200 area locations or check it out online at http://www.beaufortlifestyle.com.