KATHLEEN -- Singer/songwriter Danny Boone of Rehab fame released his first solo album in June that has its roots in his native Warner Robins.
Born Danny Alexander, the 45-year-old artist was dubbed “Danny Boone” and “Boone” by his aunt when he was 4. The nickname stuck and ended up becoming his stage name. He’s a founding member of the group Rehab, which disbanded recently so its members could pursue solo careers. The group last performed in Macon at The Crazy Bull nightclub in May.
“Fish Grease,” which is both the name of the album and the first recording released from it, is about growing up in the South.
Included on the CD is a song called “1965,” about his father’s time in Vietnam. It was written for his dad’s 70th birthday. Another called, “My Town,” is about how much things change from childhood to adulthood.
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“It’s definitely rooted in Warner Robins,” said Alexander from his makeshift studio next to the home in Kathleen that he shares with his wife, Elizabeth. They have two children, ages 25 and 17. “I don’t know how to write like that about any other place.”
The “Fish Grease” album might be described as Southern-rock rap with a bit of a country flair. Friend Jeff Paulk of Warner Robins suggested that Alexander’s emerging sound on the project was “as hot as fish grease.”
“It’s just a saying I’ve heard my whole life in the South of as hot as fish grease, a descriptive term or phrase to let you know that something’s really hot,” said Faulk. “And him being the local genius that he is took that and ran with it.”
Friends since the 10th grade at Northside High School, Alexander has been rapping for as long as Paulk has known him.
“Most people who are talented sit around and do nothing with it. But growing up in America you always hear, if you’ve got a dream, chase it. You can do whatever you want, but you never see anybody really do that,” said Paulk, 45.
“He’s the only example in my life of anyone who had a dream, chased it and caught it. He really wanted to be a rapper at a time when white guys weren’t allowed to do it, you know what I’m saying? They were like kinda banned from the rap gangs,” Paulk said. “But he still stuck with it and he’s the most famous person I know. He’s an inspiration.”
Produced by Average Joes Entertainment, a Nashville-based record label, the album is available on iTunes or at www.averagejoesent.com. A video of the title track can be viewed at dannyboonemusic.com.
Officially in the music business as Danny Boone since 1999, Alexander has several albums with Rehab under his belt. But the 1988 Northside High graduate has been interested in music since his teens, particularly rap, combined with the ability to mimic a variety of sounds and artists.
He writes lyrics by hand and creates music on his computer. He has a sound booth set up at his home studio. He does not play an instrument or read music.
“He’ll come up with a beat on his computer and then he’ll sing the lyrics over the beat and then he’ll have people come in and add guitar and that kind of thing,” Elizabeth Alexander said. “He has it all in his head ... He’s just totally homegrown.”
An unexpected influence
The late renowned Northside drama teacher Ray Horne talked Alexander into singing for the first time in public, his wife said.
Danny Alexander tells it this way. He signed up for Horne’s drama class as an elective because he thought it would be easy. But he found out on the first day that Horne took drama seriously.
He was instructed to show up for the next class with either a dramatic reading, a song or a skit.
“I was terrified,” Alexander said.
Later, he and a friend, Mark Becker, were riding around and a song by Christopher Cross, “Think of Laura,” came on the radio. Alexander was just singing along when Becker turned to him and told him he could really sing and suggested he ought to perform that song for Horne.
And he did.
“I had to get up in front of the class. I think I was first. And I had never sang in front of nobody before ... I was trembling with the paper, I remember that. It was written in red ink ... The first verse was all I could really get out,” Alexander said.
“I sang like a third of the song just to get it done, you know, just to get out of the way. Did that and just walked off and sat down ... But at the time, I guess I got good reviews, you know what I mean, from around school and stuff like that. And then it got out from there that I could sing a little bit,” he said.
Alexander was next in a church production, performed at a dinner theater, portrayed Huck Finn and sang, “River in the Rain” in the spring musical, and played the part of a funny cop in “Hello Dolly.”
In 1999, he helped found the band Rehab that was signed to Epic Records. The group’s name was based on Alexander and a fellow band member’s struggles with drugs and alcohol but was mostly sensationalized to garner publicity for the group, Alexander said. The band had some success with a song called “It Don’t Matter” before splitting up in the late fall of 2001. The video of that song can be viewed at www.metrolyrics.com/ it-dont-matter-rehab-ml-video-api.html.
Alexander kept the band name and created a new Rehab in 2005, running independently until signing with Universal Records in 2008. Rehab received a CMT nomination for its video “Bartender Song” in 2009. A video of the song with Hank Williams Jr. can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g9yLvd7G5M.
The band signed with Average Joes Entertainment in 2011. The band had toured steadily from 2005 until the Farewell Tour that ended last month.
Shannon Houchins, chief executive officer for Average Joes Entertainment, was working on an album for another artist when he saw Rehab’s first video. In it Alexander was wearing his trademark black T-shirt that has Warner Robins printed in Old English font on the front. A native of Valdosta, Houchins said the Warner Robins T-shirt piqued his curiosity.
He later arranged a meeting with Alexander and the two became fast friends.
“Danny is the best songwriter I have ever met,” Houchins said. “He can take the most basic thing and say it in a way that’s just magical.”
In spite of past successes and the accolades, Alexander admits he’s a little bit nervous with the plunge into a solo career.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything by myself before,” he said. “I’ve always had help.”
For more information, check out www.facebook.com/ DannyBooneMusic.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.