Rock n’ roll’s got soul

Dan Raridan & the Calientes rock South Park Tavern

 By Zach Rogers

Rock n’ roll and Dayton are two things that go hand in hand. From what I’ve seen and heard, it’s been that way for a while. Maybe that’s why Dan Raridan just won’t let go of his love for Dayton and the music that comes from here. Frontman to local band Dan Raridan & the Calientes, the man knows his way around a guitar lick. The band just released their second album Give It Up, and like their debut, it’s a reaction to the city they live and play in. I caught up with Raridan, where he gave me a little more insight into his band’s musical crusade.

Tell me a little bit about the band getting together, and the magic of that initial jam session. What was it like?

Well, the seed was planted during the Open Mic Nights at South Park Tavern back in 2008. It was a primitive set up. The first PA was some kind of ‘70s stereo system all cobbled together – wooden speaker cabinets, some enormous amp, wires everywhere. It blew up every week, but we had a great time. Soon, my bassist Alessandro Cortez started coming down to jam. He’s got this super heavy bass – I throw my songs at him and he dives in and owns them instantly. The initial jam session was funny. An East Dayton basement is not an inspiring space, but you get a rock n’ roll band in there and suddenly it becomes super charged with color, light and sound. My drummer Larry Smith and Cortez hit it off quickly. They’re a badass rhythm section. I was outside the whole thing on that first session, just listening to them click.    –Dan Raridan

You organized a Clash tribute show with your drummer back in 2009. Besides the Clash, what other kinds of music influences the band’s sound?

It’s difficult to talk about influences. I love disco, and I strum the guitar loose and fluid, but I’m not sure people would pick up on that. I know some of Alessandro’s influences, but he’s always playing notes in ways I’ve never heard before. Larry listens, and that’s an extremely rare quality in a drummer. He’s graceful but he can explode in all the right places. That’s my influence right now – the band. And this beautiful mess of a city. -DR

Tell me a little bit about the new record. What makes it different from your debut?

I think Bus was a prayer that this city would hold together. Songs like “Hold On” and “Don’t Go to DC” allude to that. The new record is about searching for love and soul in a city that’s almost completely abandoned. It’s desperate, at the point of searching not even for a deep connection, but any kind of connection. The title Give It Up is defeat, but it’s also surrender. Quit holding back, give me what you have left and I’ll give you what I have. -DR

What’s the thought process like in creating new songs? What comes first, the lyrics, the melody or the riff? Does the band ever create anything new out of jamming and playing around?

I improvise songs. I might have words in front of me, but usually I just scat-sing and make noise. Then I’ll try my best to make sense of the noise and give it structure. I have 20 melodic ideas for every song, which isn’t a problem. You have to pick the right dreams, the dreams the song brings to you. You have to be willing to follow that initial spark, and sometimes you don’t want to. Sometimes you just want to show off your amazing finger picking technique or drown every song in feedback. The craft of songwriting is simple, but a great song is not. It’s focused, lonely work. -DR

Have you lived in Dayton your whole life? What does the city represent for you, and why stay here?

I’ve lived in Michigan, California and Massachusetts. My family came from Ireland and went to Chicago, then all the way to Los Angeles. Finally my dad moved to Dayton for a job. I sometimes think a part of me is in all those places. You need space and time to create. It’s very inexpensive to live in Dayton, but you also need beauty, intelligence and grace. Dayton doesn’t have that right now, and maybe America doesn’t either. That’s how I’m feeling right now. -DR

What’s your view on the local rock scene here in Dayton?

The Dayton scene is healthy. There’s a lot of change in the air, and quite a few young bands. I try to get to as many shows as I can and listen to everyone’s record, but I’m always busy with my own work too. I’m excited for a few bands, but it’s hard for them to get on the road, which has to happen for a band to grow. -DR

What’s next for Dan Raridan & The Calientes?

Staying alive and playing some shows. Look for an EP out in January. -DR

Dan Raridan & the Calientes will be playing at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 15 along with Josh Eagle & the Harvest and Jayne Sachs. Admission is $5 for all ages. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, visit 

Reach DCP freelance writer Zach Rogers at

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