Herbie D and The Dangermen
Gig Seeker Pro

Herbie D and The Dangermen

Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Blues Americana




"Blues quartet Herbie D & the Dangermen hook up on a Craiglist connection"

Blues quartet Herbie D & the Dangermen hook up on a Craiglist connection

By Vincent Harris
May 27, 2015

Oftentimes the phrase, "We met on Craigslist" is not the best indicator of a successful relationship. But that's how singer/guitarist Herbie Desseyn (a.k.a. Herbie D) and upright bassist Chris Gifford met four years ago. Not long after that they formed the acoustic blues band Howie D & the Dangermen.

The Hampton, Va.-based quartet, which also includes drummer Michael Salazar and saxophonist Art Martin, takes a stripped-down approach to Herbie D's gritty originals, laying down sinewy rhythms and smoky sax solos underneath Herbie's leering swagger of a voice. They eschew electric instruments entirely, preferring to use their own skills instead of amps to power their songs. On the band's most recent album, 2013's Dangerous With Blues, Gifford's bass carries a surprising amount of the melodic weight, Martin's sax provides accents and atmosphere, and Herbie D's guitar can either take center stage (on the slide-heavy "Franklin County Shine") or chop out the rhythm (like on the album's woozy, aptly titled opener, "I'll Have Another").

The group came together after Herbie D decided he wanted to stand out in an electric-blues-saturated market. "Herbie was playing electric guitar with a blues band," says Gifford. "And he kind of wanted to do something different. He didn't really know any upright bass players that weren't already working, so he just put a Craigslist ad out there."

The ad was just vague enough to attract Gifford's interest. "It didn't say what kind of music or anything like that," he says. "So I sent him an email and he got back to me saying it was a blues thing, and if I was interested, to learn a couple of songs that he'd sent along and meet him the next night at an open mic and we would try it out. So I showed up, we played a couple of songs, and I guess I did okay, because he gave me another three songs and told me to come back the next week to try it again. And from there, we came up with about 30 more songs and started gigging together."

There were definitely challenges as the band tried to create a big enough sound to be heard in clubs. "What we really worked on was making sure everyone had their own sonic space," Gifford says. "Herbie never uses a pick; his playing is all fingerstyle. So on the upright bass, which has a nice attack and a big sound, if I stay on the rhythm, then he'll play in between, and it fills the space up. Then when we add our drummer and saxophone player, we all have our space that we stay in and we've worked at that. We're not playing on top of each other; we're playing with each other."

Gifford says that playing all-acoustic opened doors for the band. "You can play a lot more venues and you can get a lot closer to the audience," he says. "You can still play the bigger stages and festivals, but we also wanted to do smaller and more personal shows. What we'd found is that most of the electric blues bands in general were loud and that kind of kept people back," Gifford says. "We wanted something different where we could talk to people and make a better connection. And we felt with the acoustic thing that we could do that."

At intimate shows, the people are there to watch and listen. "And what that does to the band is require us to have a great show and be engaging," Gifford says. "You can't just play your music and go from one song to another. You have to engage the audience, and to us, that's the best part of the experience.

"We're not just playing music," he continues. "We're getting to know the listener. That feedback helps us become better performers and better musicians." - Charleston City Paper

"Playing The Blues, Stripped Down"

By Mike Holtzclaw mholtzclaw@dailypress.com contact the reporter
Holtzclaw can be reached by phone at 757-928-6479.
26 Feb, 2015

HAMPTON – Many people, when they think of blues music, hear electric guitars. Just as many, when they think of acoustic music, hear gently strummed folk tunes.

Herbie Desseyn wants to challenge both of those perceptions this weekend. The Hampton singer, along with his band Herbie D and the Dangermen, will host the Hampton Acoustic Blues Festival on Saturday at the Mary T. Christian Auditorium on the campus of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton.

"When you do acoustic blues, it strips away all of the electric stuff and all you're left with is the bare bones," Desseyn said. "It's strictly the music, rather than the type of equipment that you're playing. There's nothing to hide behind. What you're playing is what you get."

Herbie D and the Dangermen will play at the festival, of course. In Layman Terms – the popular Williamsburg duo of teen siblings Cole and Logan Layman – will also perform. The other acts will be The Delvers from Newport News, and Cole Stevens and the Delta Diggers from Virginia Beach.

The festival grew out of a similar event hosted for more than a decade by the local Natchel Blues Network. Herbie D and the Dangermen are launching the new event this year, with sponsorship from the Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music.

Desseyn said his goal is "to reintroduce people to acoustic music." He said most clubs, when they hire a blues band, assume the guitarist will be playing a Fender Stratocaster and that the music will be amplified and distorted. They are not expecting acoustic guitars and a stand-up bass.

"The first time we played in Tennessee, we came in and the guy immediately asked, 'Where's the Strat?'" Desseyn said. "When I told him I didn't have a Strat, he said, 'Oh, it's a stinkin' bluegrass band.' But when we played, we totally blew them away."

He hopes this weekend's festival will help introduce acoustic blues to a new audience.

"We're older players, and we appeal to an older crowd," said Desseyn, 60. But "we need to be able to pull in younger people, and I'm hoping the Laymans will help us with that. Hopefully some of our older fans can bring their kids and we can continue to introduce people to this kind of music."


What: Hampton Acoustic Blues Festival

When: 5-9 p.m. Saturday, with musical clinics from 4-4:45

Where: Mary T. Christian Auditorium, on the campus of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton

Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Info: For details and advance tickets, go online to herbiedandthedangermen.com - The Daily Press

"Herbie D and the Dangermen don’t need speakers to blow away an audience"

By Darla Parris Smallwood

Herbie D and the Dangermen don’t need speakers to blow away an audience.

Whether these guys bring their upbeat, thumping acoustic blues to a big festival stage, an intimate bar, or a private house party, one thing never changes: You’re guaranteed to feel like one of them.

“It’s more about you than it is about us. It’s about making a personal connection with you. We’re just a bunch of regular guys having fun, and we’ll do everything we can to pull you in with us,” Herbie explains.

Yep, they’re regular guys, all right. Regular guys whose uniquely unplugged take on Appalachian and Louisiana blues is so irresistibly engaging that you won’t be able to stop tapping your feet. You might even jump up to dance in the driveway. Forget about bands that seem like so much background noise in a bar. Herbie D and the Dangermen will make you want to lean in and listen.

The Virginia-based band has a simple recipe for cooking up an unforgettable experience no matter where they play. Combine Herbie Desseyn’s raspy lead vocals and bluesy acoustic guitar style with Chris Gifford’s bumping groove-along upright bass. Blend in Michael Salazar’s (Sal’s) rhythmic, shuffling drums. Then top it all off with a giant shot of Art Martin’s high-octane Chicago-style artistry with every kind of saxophone. This guy can make the baritone beg on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me,” and the soprano sax– and flute too (yes, flute!) – “sing” on a cover of “Roxanne” that sounds like oh-so-much more.

They’re not opposed to tweaking that recipe once in a while either, and have been known to layer in other instruments like the mandolin, harmonica, and fiddle. One of the songs on the band’s second album features Jay Shank on viola, all because of a chance meeting after he heard Herbie D from next door while on a break during his own band’s show.

Speaking of albums, Herbie, Chris, Art and Sal agree that nothing competes with no-barriers live music. But if you just can’t make it to a gig, their recorded music can tide you over. Listen to one of their original songs like “Route 32” or “Every Guy Wants to Be Your Man” and you’ll quickly be reminded to hightail it to their next performance.
But if you’re within a few feet of Herbie D and the Dangermen – and if they have their way, you will be – you might even get to stand in and sing a number with the guys. And why not? This is a band whose motto seems to be “The more fun you have, the more fun we have.”

Herbie D and the Dangermen’s secret ingredient is that they somehow make everybody in any crowd feel like part of one big family. If you’re at a bar, Herbie may just join you for a beer during the break. If you’re at a house party, don’t be surprised when the Dangermen pull up folding chairs or plop down beside you on the porch swing.

House or no house, wherever these guys play, it’s your party! - Darla Parris Smallwood

"Herbie D. and the Dangermen ready to rock the house - acoustically - at Brackins"

When Herb Desseyn steps onto the stage at Brackins Blues Club on Saturday night, remember one thing: He could just as easily be a banjo player stopping by the Rocky Branch Community Club for a night of picking, but for a few simple twists of fate.

A native of Southwest Virginia, Desseyn grew up surrounded by bluegrass, and as a guitar player, he always assumed he would wind up in the genre eventually. At least until he began noticing subtle differences.

“I always played without a pick, and all the bluegrass guys placed with a pick,” he told The Daily Times this week. “The first time I heard the blues played without a pick, I thought, ‘Holy cow — this is what I need to be doing right here.’”

He is doing it — with his band, Herbie D. and the Dangermen — and he’s been doing it ever since he discovered the blues. Back then, the genre was missing in action in his part of the Commonwealth, so his early guitar lessons were for classical guitar. In high school, he decided he wanted to pursue music full time, but his parents pushed him to go to college. He did, studying architecture, but he paid for it through music.

“That’s how I put myself through college, by playing music,” he said. “I actually played in a reggae band, and when I got out of college, I did some work in an architecture office. That’s when I realized I wanted to do music, so I just kind of dropped it and ran with the music.”

That was in the 1980s — “probably the time when it was hardest to play the blues,” he said — and he scraped by however he could. He was a member of the blues band The Hornets and picked up side work whenever it was available, slowly refining his fingerstyle guitar playing skills and his raspy, perfect-for-the-blues voice. He collected his influences along the way — the urban grit from Chicago, the swagger from Texas, the joyful jump-blues sounds of New Orleans — and eventually put together a team of ace players in the Dangermen: Art Martin on saxophone (and occasionally the flute), Chris Gifford on upright bass and Michael Salazar on drums.

“For me, it’s always been the live performance,” Desseyn said. “Everybody talks about recording, and you’ve got to do it, but I just like the performance, the whole thing of orchestrating a band together and being able to pull it off in front of people. We’re a blues band, but it’s not what most people around here call blues. It’s acoustic, so I always tell people it’s more like New Orleans kind of stuff. It’s not really, but that’s what people understand.”

The group, now based in Hampton Roads, Va., won first place in the River City Blues Society’s Ninth Annual Blues Challenge, and will represent the organization on Jan. 22 in Memphis at the 2014 International Blues Challenge. Along the way, they’ll share their talents with the crowd at Brackins this weekend.

“What we do is a lot different because of the acoustic instruments,” he said. “What everybody tells us is that we’re the most fun band they’ve ever seen. We’re real lively on stage, and we’re real interactive with the people we play for. That pretty much opens up everybody to a different direction than how they understand the blues, and we’re probably more roots-sounding than most of the guys out there now. Everybody’s usually surprised that we’re an acoustic band, because it is a driving band.” - The Daily Times

"Dangerous With Blues - CD Review"

Herbie D And The Dangermen are an acoustic driven band who play genre crossing music while leaving little doubt as to their influence - a mixture of blues traditions. The band consists of: Herbie Desseyn on acoustic guitar, resonator and lead vocals; Chris Gifford on upright bass and backing vocals; Art Martin on saxophones, flute and backing vocals; and Michael "Sal" Salazar on drums and percussion. Additionally, on one track each, are Erin Fossa on backing vocals and Jay Shenk on viola. "Dangerous With Blues" is the bands second release and it contains seven originals and a cover.

On the opening track titled "I'll Have Another", the band does quite a good job of creating the mood for the songs story. It's closing time at the juke joint and with the smell of cigarettes and bourbon filling his nose, all Herbie wants to do is pick up his pay and go home.....until she walked in. As one thing leads to another, going home becomes the furthest thing from Herbie's mind. As Herbie tells the story his tone of voice pretty much makes his carnal intentions quite clear and each time Erin says "I'll have another", the sexiness of her voice sounds like a seal of approval. From the very high alto and flute notes to the very deep sounds of the baritone, Art is all over this one.

"Three Of A Kind" is an instrumental that features Chris and Michael in a tight bass groove with Art and Herbie taking turns on Alto and Acoustic Guitar leads. Real good stuff.

Although the song contains a vocal verse, "Franklin County Shine" is pretty much a concerto performed by Herbie and Jay - virtual maestros on the acoustic guitar and the viola. I think the guys may just have created a whole new style of blues.....classical.

During one of their gigs, Herbie finds himself attracted to this pretty little thing in the audience. So he slides on over and with each line of crap he starts to give her the band goes into a chorus of "He's Full Of It". Lyrically it's a riot but musically it's a smoker. Outstanding rhythm behind some amazing guitar picking and several hot tenor leads all highlight this one.

"Danger Man” is a cover of a song by one of my very early blues influences - David Bromberg. With some good backing, Herbie does a great job vocally describing just how dangerous he is. Once again Art is magnificent on the horns.

Other tracks on "Dangerous With Blues" include: "All The Guys Want To Be Your Man", "Dance Your Blues Away" and "Devil On My Shoulders".

Herbie D And The Dangermen will be representing the River City Blues Society in the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis and since I'll be going, this is one of the bands I'll be on the lookout for. You should as well. - Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro, Blues Editor at www.Mary4Music.com

"Herbie D and the Dangermen, In Layman Terms triumph at Richmond blues competition"

Two area bands won honors at the River City Blues Society of Virginia's annual blues competition in Richmond on Sunday. Herbie D and The Dangermen took the event's top prize while In Layman Terms was also earned a distinction.

Both will get to represent Richmond in the International Blues Challenge event in Memphis, Tenn., next year.

The River City competition took place at the Capital Ale House Downtown Music Hall. Greg Willard, co-ordinator of the competition said that Herbie D and The Dangermen performed with confidence and verve.

"They did a wonderful job," Willard said. "They were inventive, they had a good, cohesive sound. They play with a standup bass and acoustic guitar, which is a little bit different from what we're used to up here. They were comfortable on stage, interacted with the audience. I think all of that figured into their win."

Winners were picked by a panel of four judges that included Dave Harrison, host of the "BluzNdaBlood Show" podcast; and John Porter of WCVE-FM, co-host of the program "Time for the Blues."

Herbie D and The Dangermen were among eight acts competing, four bands and four solo or duo acts.

According to the band's Facebook page, it features Herbie Desseyn on acoustic guitar and vocals, Chris Gifford on upright bass and vocals, Michael Salazar on drums and Art Martin on sax, flute and vocals. Its members hail from Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

At the contest, In Layman Terms performed as a duo and earned high marks from the judges. The Williamsburg-area combo features 12-year-old Logan Layman and her 15-year-old brother Cole. - Newport News, Va., Daily Press

"Herbie D and the Dangermen rev up "Baby, I'm on the Road" video"

By Sam McDonald

3:44 p.m. EDT, March 11, 2013

Herbie D and The Dangermen are a sax-supercharged blues band with members spread between Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, according to online sources.

This video below was posted over the weekend. The clip for the song "Baby, I'm on the Road" is built around scenes familiar to any working band: loading the van, unloading the van, setting up the gear, driving, driving and more driving.

The band's website shows that it's playing close to home on Friday, March 22. That's when the group will set up shop at Cogan's Deli, 4324 C-2 New Town Avenue, in Williamsburg. - Sound check Music Blog, Daily Press


1. Herbie D and The Dangermen - EP (Released 2012)
2. Dangerous With Blues (Released 2013)



Who knew that an advertisement on Craigslist would lead to Herbie D and the Dangermen's swampy blend of Appalachian acoustic blues and New Orleans-style jump blues?  That is exactly how Herbie Desseyn met Chris Gifford and, with the addition of fellow Dangermen Art Martin and Michael Salazar, the band has been entertaining thousands of fans from "empty nesters" to swing dance enthusiasts.  

Crowds everywhere love the band's special acoustic blues style, which allows them to play any venue ranging from large stages to living rooms.  And they deliver with a unique sound created by the inclusion of an upright bass, swapping out an electric guitar in favor of an acoustic guitar, and by replacing the traditional harmonica with a saxophone.    

Meet the guys:

Herbie Desseyn (acoustic guitar, lead vocals)

Raised in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Herbie's music experience includes him performing in local, regional, and national acts that put him in front of East Coast audiences dating back to the late 1960s.  

"In the beginning, I was taught classical guitar in the finger style. Take that finger style, mix it with bluegrass, and then blend it with rock and roll, and you get my finger style of guitar playing, which is definitely blues-based with a lot of Appalachian flavor," says Herbie.

Fans can also expect to see Herbie playing resonator, electric lap steel, and several other string instruments.

Chris Gifford (upright bass, backing vocals)

Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Chris started playing saxophone while in grade school but later took up electric bass because he felt he needed to work on his timing.

"When I started playing bass, it was a whole new experience. Music started to make more sense to me, I started hearing patterns that I never understood before. I actually felt that I found an instrument that I could speak through," Chris explains.

A member of the US Navy for 22 years, Chris also played in an alternative rock band while stationed in Germany.  He decided to start playing upright bass in 2011.

Art Martin (saxophone, flute, backing vocals)

Art is the Dangermen's master of horns, playing four variations of saxophone: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.  

"I like the different styles of music we play.  I have the opportunity to play smooth, mellow melodic lines, low breathy passages, and all-out peel-the-paint wailing.  The band really gives me a long leash and allows me to play pretty much what I want," says Art.  

Art cites another reason for why playing in the band is so fulfilling for him:  Because they are all friends.  After 28 years in the military, camaraderie is something Art knows a lot about.

Michael Salazar (drums, percussion)

Michael grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina and has played percussion since high school, where he held the #1 chair on his school's trap set.  

"A drummer needs to keep the band in beat, but a good drummer must also be aware of what else is going on in the song.  One time playing "Come Into My Kitchen", I realized if I skip the snare and kick beat every other time, you could really hear the bass run Chris was playing. Thats when you feel the magic of the song," says Michael.

A student of music theory, Michael fully engaged himself back into a life in music after more than twenty years in the armed forces.  

Herbie D and the Dangermen have already released two CDs!  The first, their self-titled EP "Herbie D and the Dangermen" (2012), includes four originals songs and one cover song.  One of the tracks on that EP, "Baby, I'm On The Road", even received the music video treatment in March of 2013 and can be viewed on the band's YouTube channel.

The band's second CD, "Dangerous With Blues" (2013), was a full-length compilation released in 2013.  The CD, which includes fan-favorite "Devil On My Shoulder", received a highly favorable review from www.Mary4Music.com.  

Herbie D and the Dangermen also earned the right to represent the River City Blues Society of Virginia at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.  With that notch in their belt, along with their continuing effort to expand their fan base and the cities in which they perform, the future is bright for this unique acoustic blues band!

Band Members