Artists like Big Joe Maher are few and far between.
A drummer, lead vocalist, and songwriter all rolled into one, Maher’s been making waves in the jazz and blues scene for over 50 years. By the time he graduated high school, he had already worked with old school jazz artists like Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Mundell Lowe, and James Moody.
His early style was heavily influenced by his father’s Louis Jordon records, among a vast array of other jazz and blues artists, and his personal gravitation towards the blues in an era of rock n’ roll.
After high school, he spent some time touring with another impressive list of artists, including Mick Fleetwood, Jimmy McCracklin, and Willie Dixon, to name a few.
His list of accomplishments continues into the late 80’s, when after managing, performing, and touring with a 9-piece swing band out of D.C., The Uptown Rhythm Kings, and drumming with the Tom Principato Band, he formed his own 5-piece blues jump group Big Joe and The Dynaflows.
Their old-school mix of blues and R&B has garnered the band three Washington Area Music Awards as well as regional notoriety. Perhaps one of the strongest examples of their rhythmic fusion is the track “No Good Woman Blues,” off their 1991 album, Good Rockin’ Daddy. Maher’s swinging drums and smoky vocals blend beautifully with the musical stylings of Jeff Sarli (bass), Kevin McKendree (keyboards), Alex Schultz (guitar), and Joe Stanley (saxophone).
The song laments a classic case of infidelity, as the blues so often does, with lingering hopes and prayers that “that no good woman come back home real soon.” The electric breakdowns highlight each member’s individual skills, as well as the band’s overall sense of unity.
In between touring and local performances with the Dynaflows, in the mid-90’s Joe accepted the role as Music Coordinator for Mick Fleetwood’s (Fleetwood Mac) nightclub in Alexandria, VA called “Fleetwoods.” In 1997, Big Joe and his Dynaflows had the honor to perform at one of the Inauguration Balls for the former president Bill Clinton.
You don’t come across too much authentic blues-jazz fusion music these days, and while his heyday was years ago, let it be known Big Joe Maher is a force in the genre.