ike a modern-day Dorothy, Daniel Wayne left his home and traveled to remote locales to chase his heart’s desire, only to find that his greatest opportunities and potential for next-level success were right where he started. On his journey, Wayne was known by many alternate nicknames, some snarkily derogatory, some humorously appropriate, but now that he’s returned to Cincinnati, he’s simply Daniel Wayne, and he and his new band, the Silver Lines, have just released an atmospheric and rootsy self-titled Country/Folk/Rock album that could stand with the best of the year.
There are two different versions of the Silver Lines — the one that Wayne and Cincinnati-based producer Brian Olive assembled for the sessions that resulted in the band’s debut full-length (including Olive, guitarists Johnny Walker and Chris Surface, pedal-steel player Cameron Cochran, Newbees drummer Tim Seiwert, Perfect Children’s Kristen Kreft, The Hiders’ Beth Harris, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Paul Patterson and ex-Greenhorne Jared McKinney), and the one that Wayne put together to play his songs live (Seiwert, Kreft, Harris, The Hiders’ Billy Alletzhauser and former Heartless Bastards bassist Mike Lamping).
Both entities are stacked decks of local talent, lending more than a little credibility to Wayne’s material that already bristles with contemporary verve and classic timelessness.
“Man, I’m telling you, I’m humbled to be playing with these people,” Wayne says over lunch. “I’m really fortunate and extremely thankful.”
A Cincinnati native, Wayne began writing songs on a Casio at age 8. His parents sang in church, but he may have absorbed the bulk of his musical talent from his maternal grandmother and aunt.
Throughout junior high and high school, Wayne played trumpet in the school band, while, with his friends, he continually wrote songs.
“My friends and I would write songs and, on my own, my mom gave me an organ that I would constantly play and write stuff,” Wayne says. “But I never thought that was something that a lot of people did, it was just this thing I do. I didn’t know it was a thing. I didn’t have any aspirations.”
After high school, Wayne attended the University of Cincinnati, but dropped out before finishing his degree. While trying to figure out what to do with his life, he finally decided to follow his true passion.
“I was talking to an older guy at a job and he said, ‘What do you do when you’re not doing this?’ And I said, ‘Writing music.’ And I thought, ‘I should just focus on this. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, and I must have some aptitude for it.’ That’s when I got serious about it,” Wayne says. “Then Kurt Cobain, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Social Distortion, Rancid and all that came around.”
After leaving college, Wayne started doing open mics around town, including at the Crow’s Nest in Price Hill. It was there he was christened with his first nicknames.
“Captain Mike used to play at the Crow’s Nest, and he was kind of a mentor to me,” Wayne says. “I didn’t start playing guitar until relatively late. I could write songs, but I couldn’t necessarily play guitar that well, and Mike would say, ‘You’re not working hard enough.’ They started calling me Boy Band Dan and Handsome Dan, and it would was like, ‘Handsome Dan has one song again.’ And I was like, ‘C’mon, I feel good about this song.’ It pissed me off, so I only wrote for about a year, then I played (the song) ‘Pub’s Crawl’ at one of the open mics, and Mike was like, ‘Who wrote that?’ And I said, ‘I wrote that.’ And he was like, ‘OK, now you’re getting somewhere.’ They were busting my balls, but that’s when they started letting me in.”
In 2004, Wayne took his best friends’ advice and got out of Cincinnati, moving to New York City. After a decade of living, working and playing in Brooklyn, he felt it was time for a change of scenery.
“I opened for Shawn Mullins, Heartless Bastards and Suzanne Vega, a lot of cool people, and I was doing well, but things weren’t coming around the way I wanted them to,” Wayne says. “I read this thing by Townes Van Zandt, and he was like, ‘If shit gets old, shake shit up.’ ”
After moving to Nashville, Tenn., for a few months, Wayne decided to return to Cincinnati, where he set up shows and started a duo with Seiwert, which led to the formation of the Silver Lines. While working on his live presence, he also began recording with Olive.
There’s a My Morning Jacket/Avett Brothers/Wilco vibe to Wayne’s debut album. Wayne admits to loving and being influenced by a wide variety of music, but he also acknowledges his place in the process.
“I don’t try to sound like anybody, but there are things that I think would sound cool — ‘I want it to sound a little like this, a little like that,’ ” he says. “You get your own recipe going and have it come from your own voice, and you’ll be all right.”
Organic seems to be the key to Wayne’s newfound success back home. He met Olive when they played on a bill together in New York years ago and they kept in touch. He saw Perfect Children and asked Kreft to be a part of the album. And Olive put together the murderer’s row of talent that filled the sessions. Wayne asked Alletzhauser if he’d like to sit in with him and Seiwert one night and the result was so seamless he asked the guitarist to join his band. A rehearsal at Alletzhauser’s Batcave space led to a meeting with Harris. And he met Lamping through a mutual friend, which resulted in a night of drinking and conversation at a local bar that gave him all of the information he needed.
“I thought, ‘I don’t know if he’ll fit, but I like this guy,’ ” Wayne says of Lamping. “So me and Tim and Mike played and in the first 10 seconds we were like, ‘Yeah, this is it. This is perfect.’ ”
This version of the Silver Lines has been playing since earlier this year, but gigs have been sporadic, given the schedules of everyone involved. But the future is looking shades-bright for Wayne; he’s got new management, and the self-released album, already available locally, will be distributed to the wider world toward the end of the year.
“My primary goal is to tour and play shows,” Wayne says. “If a label comes around, we’ll see what happens. Right now, I just want to play, hopefully sell some CDs and T-shirts and make enough money to keep going.”
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