Gary James' Interview With Steve Canaday Of
Ozark Mountain Daredevils

The Ozark Mountain Daredevils are perhaps best known for their hits "Jackie Blue" and "If You Wanna Get To Heaven". They are once again out on the road, touring, and Steve Canaday took some time off from his very busy schedule to speak with us.

Q - Do you like life on the road?

A - Pretty much. It could be better and it could be worse. We're flying on our own legs. Generally speaking, we can afford comfortable accommodations. We eat good. Our spirits are good. The road requires a lot of effort. After three weeks I've noticed that the band loses that drive in performing, so we try to maintain three weeks maximum on the road at a time.

Q - How many people travel with you?

A - Eighteen. The seven members of the band plus the road manager make up the hard core part of that number. We have a full-time bus driver, stage crew, light man and sound company people. You figure our overhead is about $50 a day times eighteen people, so it gets expensive on the road. Record companies are not that supportive of tours anymore.

Q - Where is this tour taking you?

A - We started in Vancouver. Next we'll be in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. At the end of the month we return to Canada.

Q - Do you have a stage show?

A - We're basically a musical group that concentrates on the performing of the songs. There aren't any theatrics.

Q - Tell me about your new album.

A - Well, it's a double 'live' album that's been released with twenty songs on it, including "Jackie Blue", "If You Wanna Get To Heaven" and four new songs. It was recorded in the Midwest about three months ago.

Q - What kind of airplay is it getting?

A - I don't have any reports on it yet. Some stations are playing all four sides of it late in the evening hours. We're hoping for a new single from the album.

Q - Would you say your music has changed?

A - All of our albums have been different The music overall hasn't changed that much. Our 'live' album is a re-take of all the albums we've done, but it's different because you can't make it over again. Our new album represents the band as it is now.

Q - So, how would you describe your music?

A - It's a lot easier to play it than describe it, not that it's bizarre or amazing. It's Country / Blues, Country / Rock. Our music has the elements of the Pop idiom. In a fifteen to twenty song set, we touch all musical bases except hard core Country and hard core Rock.

Q - How much of a say do you have in the studio?

A - The band makes decisions in conjunction with the producer.

Q - What do you think of Bob Dylan's statement that "Rock 'n' Roll is dead. It died in 1959 with Little Anthony And The Imperials."

A - I don't agree with that. It's not valid. If you narrowly define Rock 'n' Roll as Shoowops and Doowops, maybe Dylan is right. Rock 'n' Roll now is a whole cultural thing. It's a lifestyle for a lot of human beings. I like simple lyrics, simple chord changes. If fact, a lot of our songs are made of songs that I've heard before.

Q - Where is music at today?

A - People like melody and slickness on records. As far as concerts, they like elaborate production and something more exciting visually.

Q - What do you think about the music coming out of England. Does any of that appeal to you?

A - I like British Blues, The Who, The Stones and Jethro Tull. I really like, and the band really likes Elvis Costello. Costello has great songs just like Buddy Holly did. We were the first American band to get really turned on to Costello. We bought a whole bunch of his records. As far as Punk goes, it's not what I need, but I can appreciate it.

Q - Have you ever appeared on any of the Rock TV shows?

A - We've done the Kirshner show twice. We've never done The Midnight Special. We'd love to do Saturday Night Live, but so would five thousand other groups, so the producer can pretty much pick and choose who he wants.

Q - What do you think of TV as a medium for Rock 'n' Roll?

A - It's not the ideal set-up, sound being a major consideration. You do reach more people with TV show appearances. Not many rock 'n' rollers watch television in the prime hours.

Q - How did you decide on music as a career?

A - Where I'm from, Springfield, Missouri, they had a TV show on called Country Jubilee, starring Red Foley and Brenda Lee. My father had a clothing store and some of the stars of Jubilee used to come in the store. I used to see people like Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich and The Jordanaires. I figured I could learn to play an instrument and make a living at it.

Q - Your parents didn't discourage you then?

A - No. They bought me a set of drums and then I bought a guitar and started playing all kinds of places.

Q - What type of music did you like as a young kid?

A - Oh, the whole Hit Parade deal, but especially Elvis Presley, who drew my attention to radio. I started playing Rock-a-billy then. We (the band) all come from middle class backgrounds, so we have similar influences. Larry Lee likes The Beach Boys and John Dylan likes Country / Blues, Folk music.

Q - Are there any messages to be found in your songs?

A - No. We're not using a musical format for special protest. It's valid to do that. We're kind of apolitical. Who really does have anything to say? Our music is good time music.

Q - What happens if you couldn't perform tomorrow?

A - I'd like to write music, help out other people's music. I could be a manager or producer. I'm also an airplane pilot.

© Gary James. All rights reserved.