Members of three established Peoria-based bands have come together as the Americana trio Hoosier Daddy.
Former French Connection guitarist Dave Diefendorf's desire to form a trio materialized quickly during a conversation with good friend Cindy Youngren, late of Southside Cindy & the Sliptones.
“He said, ‘I always just wanted a three-piece band. Too bad you don’t play bass.’ I said, ‘Too bad you don’t teach me to play bass.’ And then he taught me to play the bass,” laughed Youngren, who didn’t play an instrument while fronting the Sliptones with her powerful, bluesy voice, though her history includes piano and some rhythm guitar. When former Dave Chastain drummer Larry Wigand called the duo out of the blue halfway through the recording of the CD, at the point their previous drummer was wanting out,
“There you go, when one door closes, another one opens,” said Diefendorf of welcoming in the highly respected Wigand.
Youngren and Diefendorf were in the GLT studios playing songs from Hoosier Daddy’s debut album "Got a Mountain to Climb,” a nine-song rootsy romp full of hooks, alternating lead vocals and tight harmonies.
Like Youngren, Diefendorf is a veteran of the Peoria music scene, and the brother of Dan Diefendorf of the now defunct Sliptones. He and Youngren alternate songwriting credits on this album.
“Although we have a few things we’ve co-written that Cindy sings,” said Diefendorf. “We try to get as much out of our harmonies as we can because it’s just the two of us.”
“Old Raincoat” is the only track not part of their songwriting collaboration. Diefendorf said it was written by Keith Powers of Point Blank, the band best known for the 1981 hit single “Nicole.” He said he got to know Powers when Point Blank was in Peoria to play The Barn with the James Gang.
I pulled into Detroit town
Feeling about 100 years old
Need somewhere to hang my life
Come in from the cold
Old Raincoat will help you on a stormy day
The coat is made out of lovin’
And the rain … the rain is pain
- "Old Raincoat" by Hoosier Daddy
“He ended up falling in love with a girl in Canton, quit the band and moved to Canton. It was great for Canton because he was a guitar phenom, but I’m not sure it was the smartest thing for him to do (personally),” said Diefendorf. “At one point he needed a bass player, and I was playing bass back then, so we ended up writing and recoding this song,”
“And be careful, this song grabs you and tomorrow you’ll wake up humming it and won’t know what happened,” said Youngren of the catchy tune that has a groove not unlike what you might hear from a Levon Helm song.
“Cumberland” is another strong, catchy track. The title is a reference to the river that snakes through Nashville, a city Youngren lived in for a few years out of college.
Just getting across town
Not thinking of drama
I’m just trying to get one thing done
Without reliving it all
I’m not asking anything from you
I’m trying to get through just one day
And now I’ve got to make my way
I’m just trying to make my way
- "Cumberland" from Hoosier Daddy
“Everything was called Cumberland there,” said Youngren. “When you’re new to a city and you’re trying to feed yourself and whatnot, you struggle to even find your way around town. Every avenue or street seemed it was ‘Cumberland this, Cumberland that.’ So when I think about having difficult times in my life, I consider myself sort of on Cumberland Street.”
The songwriting collaboration is working for both Youngren and Diefendorf, who said they started writing original music almost immediately after deciding to form.
“You have to have original music if you’re going to produce a CD,” said Diefendorf.
“I was so amazed though at how quickly Dave (could write),” said Youngren. “He never told me he wrote before other than collaborating with other guys. I would just show up for practice and he would say, ‘What do you think of this? You want to put some words to it?’ Then I’d show up the next time and he had written the whole song.”
“I think the first song I did was when Cindy and her boyfriend went down to St. Louis for a 4-5 day jaunt and I wrote ‘Ancient History’ at the time. We didn’t want to do other people’s stuff, we wanted to have our own material like everyone does. And the more she sings, the better I sound. We try to get her singing all we can because she’s thee singer, there’s no doubt about that,” said Diefendorf.
It's a great debut from the Peoria music veterans. And a cool name with a couple references.
"It started out with 'Who's Your Drummer,'" laughed Diefendorf.
Youngren added "Every night you never knew who the drummer was going to be."
"But I do have a daughter that lives in Indianapolis," said Diefendorf of the city in Indiana, known as The Hoosier State. "And the play on 'Hoosier Daddy' just seemed natural."
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