Danni Ri Isn’t a ‘Cliche’ in Nashville

danni ri, beaverdamusa.comWhen it comes to songwriters, Danni Ri is no cliché.

Sure, she does all the Nashville things to promote her music. But, in her downtime, you can find her working in her garden or tinkering in the woodshop. She and her husband even built the house they live in.

How’s that for being original?

Maybe it was that appreciation for originality that helped her write “Cliché,” the title track off of her first full-length album released in 2014.

danni ri, beaverdamusa.com

Danni Ri and husband/producer Edward Croker.

“I started listening to the radio quite a bit in recent years — more than I used to as far as current radio,” she told us recently. “I grew up on the ‘90s on that kind of country. That’s when Shania was big, and loved it.

“So, I started listening recently. I mean there are still some great artists, great writers, great songs that you hear. But, I didn’t care for some of the trends I was hearing.”

She specifically mentioned, “the overwhelmingly pro-male, pro-bro trend that’s going on right now.”

As a response, she put her songwriting skills to work. “I do probably most of my best writing while I’m doing something else. So, I was actually working out in the garden, and my brain was going. And, I had the radio on, and for about a 2-hour stint all the things I put in that song played on the radio that day — the clichéd lines.

“Multiple times, I would hear four songs that threw the word moonshine in, or six songs that talked about ‘hey baby, get up in my pickup truck,’ and it got hilarious. And, that’s what got the ball rolling, and I think I had the song written that afternoon, and so I went in, picked up the guitar and ‘Cliché’ came out.”

Although she wrote it a year before she ever heard of Maddie and Tae, fans ask her if the duo’s “Girl in a Country Song “ served as inspiration for her single. “I love their song, I absolutely do, but that’s natural for people to assume that, I guess.”

When Danni was 1, her family moved away from Florida. She grew up in various places in Georgia, graduating from high school at a Christian school near Atlanta. She would eventually marry a classmate, Edward Croker, but, it wasn’t exactly a textbook high school relationship.

“We didn’t roll in the same circles,” she said. “Then, mutual friends got us together after high school. They talked me into coming out hearing his band – this garage band out in Alabama — so I drove out with them, and dang if it wasn’t the boy from high school,” she laughed.

danni ri, beaverdamusa.comEdward produced the “Cliché” album. “In every respect,” she said, “my husband has been my partner in this. He encouraged me to go for this, even when I doubted it.” She also credited her family – especially her father-in-law — with giving her encouragement. “The ‘Cliché’ album wouldn’t have happened without either one,” she said.

She also credits her father-in-law for introducing her to carpentry, by virtue of the family’s log cabin manufacturing company in Heflin, Ala., where she and her husband currently live.

“I guess it is this way for a lot of girls — I was always very arts and crafty growing up,” she said. “I love my daddy, but he has this notion that little girls shouldn’t play with power tools because we could get hurt.

“But, as I got older and met my boyfriend who I later married, I came down to Alabama to see them while we were dating, and it was a lot different over here. His dad believes in teaching people how to do for themselves, and he taught me all kinds of skills, carpentry being one of them. So, I really kind of fell in love with it.”

She said, “I enjoy building furniture among other things. We built our own cabin that we live in. I remember my mom called me up one morning and asked me if I have an extra router, and I said, ‘Sure, what size bits do you need?’ And she was like, ‘What in the world?’ I speak a different language now,” Danni said with a laugh.

She routinely makes the 4-hour trek to Nashville, where she co-writes and works with her publisher, Dallas Gregory. She singled out Sheree Spoltore of Global Songwriters Connection as a catalyst in her career so far. Unlike many other budding songwriters, Danni said she is amazed at the pace of her career in the 2 years since she started pursuing it full-time.

“We hit the ground running as soon as I signed with Dallas Gregory,” she said. “And, he’s been working hard for me pitching. And, I have a real strong feeling it’s coming soon. I know you’ve got to pay your dues and I expect to, but just the speed things have been happening, I realize how fortunate I am,” she said.

“Every time I come to a co-write, my co-writers are all extremely talented and have been doing this for years, the first question out of their mouth is, ‘How did you get a publisher?’  I’m just like, he liked what he heard. But, I’ll be perfectly honest, there was some luck involved, and being the right place at the right time.”

Danni called herself a “songwriter-slash-artist,” explaining, “I’m in my early 30s, and I just decided that it might be smarter to try to get my foot in the door as a writer first, and I really love it. I mean it’s honestly probably my favorite part of the music creativity. I (also) enjoy being an artist. And, if that door opens at some point, I’m going to go through it. But even if it never happens, I really love behind the scenes, and actually creating the songs themselves. So I would be happy with either option.”

To learn more about Danni, visit…

Her Website     |     Facebook     |     YouTube

iTunes     |     Amazon

We’re Hillbillies, and We’re Everywhere

dam thoughts, barry currin, beaverdamusa.comPeople from other parts of the country love to call people who live in southern Appalachia “hillbillies.” They use it as a derogatory term meant to characterize us as dirt-farming banjo pickers who snicker when the bug zapper goes off.

In defense of these snobs, I will say that some of us don’t put forth much effort to dispel those stereotypes. In popular culture, we haven’t progressed much from the days of Jed and Granny. TV shows portray us running a whiskey still, handling snakes in church, pimping out our 2-year-old girls on the beauty pageant circuit and muddin’ in our 4-wheel-drives. I breathe a sigh of relief every day when I wake up and one of those useless cable channels has not debuted a show called “Hillbilly Meth Wars.” Our cause is certainly not helped much by country music either, which constantly rehashes the theme of “let’s get drunk, sit on the tailgate at the bonfire and watch the honey in a little white tank top shake it for us.” The very makeup of this website even stereotypes us a little bit.

In reality, though, nobody on earth fits the hillbilly mold completely. But on the other hand, no place is immune to having some hillbilly characteristics — at least no place between Tennessee and Lansing, Mich.

Last weekend, Kim and I put the Mighty Prius in the wind and headed toward Lansing for Kim’s business. We stopped for the night in Franklin, Ohio, which is a wide spot in the road south of Dayton. Once we got away from the interstate we found the little town, which was rural and quaint. We didn’t see many people. Maybe they were still out muddin’. We did see a couple of old guys sitting under a shade tree in the yard. Remember those Bartles and Jaymes commercials? I think these guys were Frank and Ed, and I may have heard a bug zapper.

We also saw some tattooed, straggly-haired teenagers slinking on the sidewalk downtown who looked like they came straight out of MTV’s “Buckwild,” which coincidentally was about a bunch of hillbilly teenagers in West Virginia.

I wasn’t sure how far north the influence would go before it ran out. Turns out, it goes at least to East Lansing, Mich., home of Michigan State University. MSU is one of the largest colleges in the country with more than 40,000 students.

Of those 40,000, around 39,000 of them must be studying farming because 90 percent of the campus was a farm. There’s nothing wrong with that; I was just expecting something a bit more, oh, un-hillbilly-like.

michigan state university, beaverdamusa.com, geese

Geese in a convenience store parking lot near Michigan State University.

And I was certainly not expecting to see a family of geese waddling in a convenience store parking lot less than a half mile from campus. I made a spectacle of myself at the red light trying to get a picture. I don’t think the people in the car behind me thought it was very funny that someone from the south was about to have photographic evidence that every place on earth has something we can chuckle about.

My final example comes from rural Ohio on US-33, where we took back-road detour on the way home. The town is called Rockford. The population of Rockford is however-many can fit in the parking lot of the tastee-twirl. The tastee-twirl in Rockford was a quintessential drive-in hamburger joint. The parking lot was packed with, well, everybody who lived in the town, sitting around on picnic tables and truck tailgates.

All it was missing was a bonfire and some banjo music.

CraftBeerClub.com-The Finest Craft Beers from America’s Best Micro Breweries- 728x90 banner