Dennis Quaid & the Sharks
Out Of The Box
Before you say, Dennis Quaid has a band? Yes he does and for the past 18 years he’s been regularly playing in a variety of clubs and bars, honing his craft as a musician and songwriter.
When I spoke to Dennis on the phone, it is clear that music has been a huge part of his life since picking up the first guitar at age 12 and he has continued to work that skill until today. Of playing and songwriting Dennis says “I take my guitar everywhere and songwriting is always a continual process. I always have a song in my head and over the past 2 years I’ve kind of been on a terror. I wrote 24 songs in 24 months. I just take my time with them and live with them and shape them to make it more personal and hopefully relatable to people.”
Filled with a wide range of his musical influences and unique musical directions, this isn’t a cover record to have some fun with or a collection of songs chosen for him to perform. He’s written 10 original tracks and 3 bold covers to showcase his musical artistic abilities. He’s taken almost 2 decades of bar gigs and a life time of song writing into the studio and put out a great first album.
The opening track, “I’m in Love” is a bit rockabilly with some hints of the Van Morrison influence while “Peaches No.9” is a more straight ahead rock and roll. “You’re so Fine” is much more laid back with an almost reggae beat and some very catchy vocals by Dennis and backup vocals by Jamie James, who is on lead guitar as well as being a huge reason this album came to be.
Dennis says “I went over to see Harry Dean Stanton and of course Jamie was playing with him and… I got up and did a song or two and Jamie and I had a real connection and that’s how the band got formed.” The band includes Dennis on vocals, guitar, and piano, Jamie James on lead guitar and harmony, Tom Mancillas on bass guitar,Ken Strange on keyboards, harmonica, and backup vocals, and Tom Walsh on drums.
Interestingly, Dennis and the Sharks take on The Doors hit songs “L.A. Woman” and “Riders on the Storm”. I told Dennis that I’ve heard so many people try and do those kinds of covers that they never come out well, but, once I listened to his homage to a band and music that is obviously sacred ground for him, that I was more than impressed with their take on both songs. The music is fairly close to the original and Dennis captures the Jim Morrison sentiment, without trying to be Jim Morrison and that works incredibly well in his favor.
Of The Doors he mentions “ I’ll give you a sidebar, just this past weekend for a St Judes charity concert, Jamie and I got to sing “Riders on the Storm” with Robbie Krieger and John Densmore. I gotta tell you what that experience was like. It was really quite something. You know you gotta grab something like that and just do it…I’m still in awe of those guys and another voice was just telling me be cool, be cool.” It’s fun to hear someone as accomplished as Dennis Quaid, fanboy out a little in the presence of Rock and Roll royalty.
And, as we’ve touched on the covers, his version of Van Morrison’s “Gloria” is also another great homage to another important influence on Dennis and his music. He’s not trying to “cover” these songs as much as he is performing them, his way, and with the integrity and spirit in which they were written. Dennis takes chances with the vocals and isn’t afraid to be himself at the microphone. It’s served him very well on this album and will only get more razor sharp as he progresses through his next projects.
The balance of the songs on this album continue to carry on in a wide range of styles and great lyrics that truly do reflect real experiences that make them very relatable to the listener. The last track “After The Fall” is probably one of my favorites on the album and has a lot of unique musical elements and some fun and very heartfelt lyrics.
Overall it’s a great album and while you can definitely feel the fun side of Dennis come through each song, he’s worked really hard to put out a quality album. He wrote all the songs, besides the 3 covers, produced the overall direction of the album, and has put in the real work in the clubs and bars to get to this point.
Dennis and the Sharks also have a number of gigs scheduled through out the United States and would love to see you come out to a show. Dennis mentioned that he was going to be more active on social media and would be putting out those tour dates so fans can get out and see them. I’m looking forward to a catching a show this next year and would encourage you to grab this album and have some fun.