On the front page of Jesse Daniel and the Slow Learners’ website, there’s a black-and-white photo of Daniel flipping off the camera. It might sound like a punk rocker making a bid for street cred, but in fact Daniel plays country music, and the pic is an homage to the late, great Johnny Cash.
Daniel does have some punk roots—he played in several hardcore bands growing up—but when he writes and records his own music, it’s always country.
“Whenever I sit down and try to write a song, it always has a little bit of twang to it,” he explains. Daniel has more in common with classic country artists than new mainstream country stars. “I love Buck Owens. He’s my all-time favorite, and Merle Haggard. Their ability to sing a sad song, but in a chipper way. Sing a sad song, but you also feel kind of happy listening to it. It’s not depressing to listen to.”
Daniel has been writing country songs for four or five years, but he recorded his first solo EP, American Unknown, last December. He played all the instruments himself, with the help of local musician Henry Chadwick, who recorded him at his studio. After releasing the album, Daniel assembled the band the Slow Learners to play the songs live.
“In my life, it’s taken me quite a long time to learn some things, so I called them that to take the spotlight off of my own learning difficulties,” Daniel says.
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, July 15. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.