The Dan Burke Acoustic Band may be one of the newest bands on the block, but Burke is a longtime veteran of the local music scene.
He initially cut his musical chops with Nuth'n Fancy, a rock band that was prominent in the South Jersey area during the late ’70s and early ’80s. According to the frontman, who provides vocal and guitar duties, times have changed since that bygone era.
“There definitely was a lot more going on back then,” he reminisces. “We would set up on a Wednesday and play three nights in a row at the same place. That’s unheard of today — you’re in and out in the same night.”
For his latest band, Burke is sticking close to his Southern rock roots, but taking them in a more traditional direction.
Some people call it "newgrass," Burke said.
“It’s bluegrass-sounding music that does have drums in it.”
The band performs all acoustic sets and incorporates a few eclectic instruments which aren’t usually seen on the South Jersey stage.
The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and The Band’s distinctively American sounds permeate the set, but Burke says the band shies away from the extended jam found in most similar acts.
“We keep them short,” he says. “We try not to jam everybody out, but we do play a little Phish, too!”
Bandmates David Pinto and Tamara DeMent add an extra level of Americana with the addition of mandolin and violin, respectively. Burke says the band “tries to stay close to the originals,” but the addition of mandolin solos in place of guitar, along with a certain degree of improvisation, gives the songs a more unique feel. The extent of their sound runs even deeper than that, according to Burke.
“We don’t have a traditional drummer, either,” he says. “Ron (Mortillite) plays a cajon,” which is a box kit-styled drum which gives the band a very distinct rhythm.
Though the Dan Burke Acoustic Band is currently working their way through some classic tunes from the American songbook, they’re also actively pursuing original material, as well.
“I’ve got a pretty good amount of originals written,” Burke explains. “Now it’s time to take those songs and see what the band can do with them.”
Future plans include entering the studio to record some originals, as well as an appearance on the forthcoming “Tony Mart’s Presents” compilation CD.
Coming up: Dan Burke Acoustic Band performs at The Black Cat, 1 N. Shore Road, Absecon Saturday, May 3, and 8 p.m. just about every Friday night at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, 908 Shore Road, Somers Point.
Lineup: Dan Burke, guitar and vocals; Tamara DeMent, violin and vocals; David Pinto, mandolin and vocals; Tim Lekan, upright bass and vocals; Ron Mortillite, box kit and percussion.
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