The Galaxy Theater & Genghis
The Coach House & The Equator Cafe
Kulak’s Woodshed & Twiggs
The Coffee Cartel & The Old Vine
The Talking Stick & Sacred Grounds
CD: Just For A Moment
EP: Waldo Bliss
Bernie Larsen Sessions
Castle Oaks & Peter Malick Sessions
When fourth generation Californian Dan Carlson was thirteen, his parents brought him a Kamaka ukelele from Hawaii. “It looked like a toy to me.”, he remembers. “Then I started playing it and it led to a life long love affair with the guitar.” There was a piano in the house and that’s where the songwriting started. “I was just making up stuff that was in my head. I didn’t really think it was anything, but later I realized that these were my first writing ideas nudging their way out into the ether.”
He sang with the Madrigals in high school and was a pretty good athlete as well. “I was the only guy who went from choir practice to football practice”, he laughs. “Nobody gave me a hard time for being a choir boy.”
When Dan was 17, he got a classical guitar. Then, he got an Orlando steel string, which he left in the passenger seat of his ’63 Falcon so he could play it at red lights. “I was so obsessed that it was hard to not play.” he says.
He loved listening to the music of Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and Joni Mitchell. The beautiful vocal arrangements that Brian Wilson did with the Beach Boys profoundly inspired his already deep love for vocal harmonies. On the rock side of his formative years, Dan was fascinated with Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull. Oh yeah…and that group called The Beatles. All of the above, influenced his songwriting.
Dan studied music at UCLA for three years. His obsession with the guitar continued. “I was playing all the time”. A Telecaster was his for his 21st birthday, “and I picked up a ’64 Deluxe Reverb amp for $113 with my tax return money”.
He played with Dan Navarro for a while, singing three-part harmonies, and played rhythm guitar and sang for a quirky local rock legend, the Molay Band.
Then there was the famous Pink House, which was “creativity central” for about three years where many songs were written and the playing of magical music was the norm with friends and characters of all sorts.
Instead of playing covers in a bar to make a living, he worked in restaurants and continued writing songs and playing in various configurations with friends and other musicians. There was a side track to Atlanta, Georgia for a short while where he worked, played and met other players. But the summer humidity arrived and it was back to California.
Life changed a bit when Dan ended up with a wife, a daughter and an electrical engineering degree from USC but what didn’t change was the music center in his life. He continued writing songs and playing. There were gigs with Susan Barth, the Cactus Band, and Johnny Rad and the Eggplants. And for years, the vocal trio, Keely, Dan and Brian.
Dan met Randy Ray Mitchell in February, 1992, at a Toe’s Tavern gig in the San Fernando Valley, and the basic core of Waldo Bliss was formed. Twenty years later, they’re still playing together, making “Music for the Inside of Your Body”.