Danny Montana

Danny Morrison blames his affinity for country music on a Columbia Record Club error that sent him George Jones' Greatest Hits instead of the Kinks' Greatest Hits when he was 12 years old.

"I hated it," he says, "But after awhile I started listening to parts of it to see if anything sounded remotely like rock and roll. I got to where I really fell in love with it and was hooked for life. I just couldn't play it when any of my friends were around."

Reading liner notes from Bob Dylan's albums led him to check out Woody Guthrie, Lightning Hopkins, Leadbelly, and Hank Williams. He carried his guitar everywhere throughout high school, and in the late '60s, joined the Hereford Hartstringers with Phil Richardson, Sean Hopper and Terry Hansen.

"I started playing with them and got a crash course in bluegrass. We were popular, because in San Francisco at that time, bluegrass was a novelty. You just didn't see a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds playing bluegrass."

Morrison met the members of Clover shortly thereafter, and the Hartstringers began to open regularly for Clover and The Flying Circus at Brown's Hall, the Lion's Share, and other Marin and Sonoma clubs. With Clover members Alex Call, Johnny Ciambotti and John McFee, Steve Bonucelli from The Flying Circus, and others, including a harmonica player named Huey Lewis (responsible for nicknaming Danny "Danny Montana"), they formed an informal 12-piece bluegrass band that played on the street at San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square and The Cannery. Danny was a regular at Huey's infamous "Monday Night Live" sessions at Uncle Charlie's in the 70's (check out this old poster!).

After the Hartstringers broke up in 1973, Morrison moved to Montana, playing solo in bars in Virginia City. Returning to the Bay Area a year later, he played with various bands that incorporated members of the Hartstringers and other local musicians, including Norton Buffalo.

Morrison played occasionally over the next several years, but gradually shifted from playing professional gigs to playing at his kids' school functions and parties while he raised a family.

In 2004 , Morrison reunited with a former band mate and began playing local gigs, which were well received. He has appeared on television on The Bruce Latimer Show, and plays regular monthly performances at Peri's Silver Dollar Bar in Fairfax and The Old Western Saloon in Point Reyes Station. Since then, he's brought in other well-known local musicians to form one of the Bay Area's hottest country bands, Danny Montana & the Bar Association.

His rededication to music is motivated by multiple factors: "I want my kids to know I play more than just 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' when I put them to bed. And life's too short not to do what you love to do. Besides, why would anyone want to try to make millions of dollars selling real estate when apparently you can make tens of dollars playing music?"

Danny Montana

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