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Oxford Musician Finds Inspiration in Hard Times

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Daniel Lee Perea / Photo courtesy Daniel Lee Perea Facebook page

For one Oxford, Mississippi musician, performing traditional American music is a responsibility, and a family tradition.

Daniel Lee Perea is no stranger to hard times, having grown up poor in rural Alabama and being raised by his late grandfather Jim Strickland – a man that grew up through the Great Depression and fought in WWII. It’s those hardscrabble values that inform his latest album titled, appropriately enough, “Hard Times.” “Hard Times” is a solo acoustic mix of classic Americana and original songs with a rockabilly-infused flavor.

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Photo courtesy Daniel Lee Perea Facebook page

“I come from a line of hillbilly musicians. Where I grew up, four of my grandfather’s siblings lived within walking distance of our house. I have old Super 8 family films of me as a baby jumping and dancing to my grandfather and his brothers playing bluegrass music on our old farm. This music is in my DNA. The more that whole generation fades away, the more important I feel it is to keep this family tradition alive.”

Perea, also known by his nickname “El Bebop Kid”, sees music in general as one long chain that transfers culture from one generation to the next. Although he is most influenced by rock n roll of the 1950s, “Hard Times” features songs from 1905, the 30s, 40s, and even the title track is from 1854. The older material is a quiet, more personal departure for Daniel, who’s previous project, Dr. Daniel & The Rockabilly Vampires was high energy rockabilly flavored by a pinch of punk rock. But along with the covers, and quieter original ballads, there are also a couple tracks that will be more familiar to fans of Perea’s previous work.

“I wanted to do something different that strikes right at the root of American music. I became friends with legendary blues photographer and promoter, Dick Waterman, and fell in love with the one-man, one-guitar arrangements of the artists he used to manage – Son House, Skip James, and Mississippi John Hurt. And I always loved Jimmie Rodgers and Johnny Cash’s first ‘American Recordings’ album. You really can’t live an hour away from Clarksdale and hang around all the great musicians in this region without their influence rubbing off on you.”

Its old fashioned approach and repertoire notwithstanding, “Hard Times” is exclusively distributed digitally in 21st century manner. The album hit #81 on the New Rock Albums chart on iTunes on its debut weekend of August 1. And the momentum and supporting live performances helped boost “El Bebop Kid” to hit #1 artist in the world on the ReverbNation.com Rockabilly chart on August 17 – the day after Perea performed at the first ever Memphis International Rockabilly Festival.

“Sharing a bill with Rockabilly Hall of Famers like W.S. Holland, Narvel Felts, Sonny Burgess and The Stray Cats’ Lee Rocker is quite an honor. It was an incredible experience to hang around my idols and be encouraged and accepted as just one of the guys. What could be more fulfilling than that?”

“El Bebop Kid” plans on following up “Hard Times” by collaborating with another Rockabilly Hall of Famer, Grenada Mississippi’s Bud Bays.

“Bud and I have been talking about getting an all-star group of musicians together in a studio to cut a killer rockabilly album. I’ve already got all the material written and am very excited for that.”

“Hard Times” is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Music Store, CD Baby, and everywhere digital music is sold.

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