It's a Friday night, and Venice-based roots rock band Uncle Daddy are performing at the Troubadour for their album release show. They're set to take the stage in an hour, but mandolin player Andrew Jed is missing. It seems like a stereotypical rockstar-in-training move, but Jed's got a legit excuse — the birth of his second child. Yet somehow, just two hours after the baby girl's birth, Jed makes it to the show, downing a shot of Maker's Mark and hitting the stage for a raucous set.
Uncle Daddy doesn't often do things the typical way. Having crafted a sound that's fully their own, they've progressed from a group of guys that formed in a non-denominational church band in 2006 to a full blown roots rock machine. But yet they stand alone in Los Angeles' music scene; they're too hard for the singer-songwriter crowd yet too emotive for the rock scene.
“[We] started out with a sweet, acoustic kind of feel,” says guitarist Noah Needleman, “but the problem is we're all dudes. We just want to fuckin' bash our guitars on the stage.” Vocalist TJ Stafford puts in that he wishes they were good enough to play kick-ass electric guitar solos. But whatever the case, as demonstrated by their debut, Good Mourning — out tomorrow, June 26 — their sound is far larger than one would expect from an acoustic band, as they blend country tones, folk storytelling, and foot-stomping blues.
Their whisky-steeped, Muscle Shoals sound doesn't sound like they were ever in church bands. (They drink and swear like sailors.) They've diversified their collaborations by adding local MC Sens Musiq, who's on two Good Mourning songs. Spitting bars over a banjo works quite well for these guys.
Beyond the swampy grit and drinking songs, there are evolved themes strewn throughout Good Mourning; indeed, now in their 30s, the group members have gone through a lot over the course of writing their debut album. “We've gone through divorces, breakups, having kids,” states Stafford. “This is the first time we've collectively known who we are and been able to put out something we're really proud of.” (You can hear their song “Fade Away” below.)
Despite their raucous show at the Troubadour, the group hasn't yet made a big splash in L.A., but they're happy with their slow climb. “It's like bamboo,” muses Stafford. “It takes years to sprout, then it just takes off. That's where we're hoping we're at — a tipping point.”