Harvey Dalton Arnold
This really means a lot to me…a phrase I found myself repeating several times during a recent conversation with one of my musical heroes. Emotion, optimism and passion are what I gleaned from our conversation. Harvey Dalton Arnold; a real human being.
Harvey was born in October of 1953 in the small hamlet of Mount Olive, North Carolina, but soon after the family moved to nearby Rose Hill. While talking about his childhood, I was surprised to learn that Harvey didn’t grow up in a musical family. That might have been a handicap if not for the fact that the Arnold’s had a piano in their living room and a family friend named Henry.
There is little doubt that Henry made an impression on a five year old Harvey. I listened with pleasure as Harvey recounted his early memories of sitting on the piano bench beside the black field hand as he pounded out Barrelhouse Blues while Daddy Arnold kept Henry’s shot glass filled with whiskey.
As a teen, Harvey remembers attending area festivals that featured local favorites like the Charlie Albertson Band, but his early exposure to the raw sounds of the blues still held sway. As with many of us of that era, music was a powerful force in our young lives. There was plenty about this time to be excited about but it took four lads from Liverpool to seal the deal for Harvey. In his own words; “I heard the Beatles and I was done”, a musical career was born. In the 1960’s, late night radio wasn’t cluttered with endless advertisements, and programs were usually carried by a single sponsor. While Country music and Top 40 hits dominated during the day, if you were willing to turn that dial, put up with a little static and fading signals, late night radio offered a sound that seemed to come from another world; music that wasn’t found on the airwaves during “prime time”. Around the age of 15, Harvey worked nights at a local gas station which is where he discovered WLAC out of Nashville on the AM dial. While Harvey pumped gas, WLAC pumped out Delta blues. “Imagine being all alone in this gas station at night listening to blues…I knew this was the music I wanted to do”. Harvey joined a high school blues band, playing keyboards with a style that would have made Henry proud but it wasn’t until he picked up a bass guitar that Harvey found his passion. While some might have found the need to be the center piece of the band, standing behind a guitar player and making everyone else sound better was where Harvey felt he could do his best work. And I think he was damn good at it! Oh yeah, Harvey could sing those blues as well!
By 1969, Harvey was playing with the Polar Bear Blues Band out of Wilmington, NC. Not long after, his talent took him to Tampa, Florida. In the mid Seventies he was approached by a group of musicians who’d been told to check out the left-handed bass player. They liked what they heard and Harvey was offered the job. A couple of days rehearsal and then, in less than a week, he was on stage opening up for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Johnny Winter in Birmingham, Alabama as the new bass player for legendary Southern rockers, the Outlaws!
Harvey was an instant hit with fans. He could write songs, take the lead vocal, and he brought harmonies to the band that carried them to another level. Harvey continued with the Outlaws until 1980, when differences in musical direction and those personal issues that arise from being on the road day after day told him it was time to call it quits. Harvey travelled and performed with several acts for about a year before dropping off the radar. He left the music business behind and settled down to raise his family; “I didn’t want wake up one day and realize my children had grown up and that I missed it”.
But now, the kids are grown and Harvey is back; better than ever! He’s transferred his passion for the bass into slide guitar and, as anyone who has followed Harvey’s career would expect, he’s just as accomplished as a slide player and it’s apparent that the years away from the music business have only honed his talent and his voice is stronger than ever.
In January of 2010, Harvey dropped by Shomaker Guitars for an informal jam session after hours with owner, Kim Shomaker. The connection was instant and within a month the new band was playing their first show at the Fat Frogg in Elon, NC.
Just five weeks after their inception, the band went into Music Mania Studios to record their debut CD. They laid down 90% of that CD live, in a matter of hours. It was a magical day to say the least. The self-titled debut is a snapshot of a fresh band at the beginning of a journey into a new style of Blues…
As a long-time fan, I couldn’t be happier to announce that Harvey Dalton Arnold is back on the scene with a band that’s on fire, a new CD, Up And Runnin’ and a great team behind the scenes. With Harvey on lead vocals and guitar, Kim Shomaker on guitar, Darrell Young on bass and Tim Carey on drums, The Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band is packin’ the house wherever they touch down!
You can follow the band on FaceBook, at The Harvey Dalton Arnold Blues Band, and Twitter, under the name “HDABB”.
At the conclusion of our conversation, I asked Harvey where he wanted this latest foray into the music business to lead. With the humbleness I’d grown to expect, Harvey simply said,
“I want to play music for a long time. It’s been a blessing to see the response to what we’re doing. I had no idea that I would ever start another band and it’s so inspiring to be making records, again”.