Who is Dan Dreifort?

By Matt Toledo.

dan dreifort

Shivley Dining Hall 1993: Behind the servers in their green baseball caps and green aprons. Beyond the lime green brick walls and fluorescent lights. There, in the very bowels of Shivley Dinning Hall. Where women named Shirley and guys named Bob filled steam trays with hot dogs and flipped pork chops onto a stainless steel grills. In this kitchen, perched around a conveyor belt that never ceased to spit out left over corn dogs and chili, were the student-workers. These were individuals who had their parents pay $10,000 a year so they could wash dishes for $4.25/hr. To pass the time, they would talk about life outside the kitchen. It was during the spring of 1993 that the topic of conversation at the dishwashing pit focused on a man called "Dan." How do I know this? Well, because I was a Shivley "dish dog."

I first noticed that female workers at the kitchen were buzzing about something called "Our Smiling Jesus Band." During the next few days talk of "Dan" with his "goofy hair" became the dominant topic of discussion. It had even spread to the male population. Everyone was drooling over this guy, including this girl I was dating at the time. Her conversion to what I considered the "dark side" was the last straw. I, being the repressed, jealous, spiteful type decided to boycott "Dan" and everything he stood for. For months I bah-humbugged everyone who asked me if I had seen OSJB the night before. But resistance was futile. OSJB was the Red Wanting Blue of the time so you could imagine how hard it was to not read, hear, or see Dan and his satanic band of hell spawn no matter how hard I tried.

Well, that girl I was dating eventually left me and my immense hatred of Dan eventually dwindled. It was almost a year after I first heard of OSJB that I listened to a friend's CD and came an honest, non-hormonally influenced, non-spite-tainted decision on the band. The verdict... "ehhhh."

osjb our smiling jesus band

Actually, It wasn't the songs that bothered me it was the quality of the CD. It sounded like it was recorded in a tunnel at the bottom of a lake. It wasn't until I got the chance to see OSJB play at Spring Fest in the "Secure Parking" parking lot (home of Dalt's Diner today) and then again later at the Dugout that I came to the conclusion that I stick by today. Dan Dreifort, and his band were fantastic. Dan had a stage presence that couldn't be recorded on any CD. He and his band were a dynamic, funny, talented group of musicians that had a firm grasp on their chosen craft as well as a pop-god like mastery of the crowds that came to see them. They had me waiting to hear the next tune and laughing out loud at the comments they said between songs. Every show Dan introduced a new hairstyle to the world. His super-curly locks would defy every law of physics and almost perform on their own. Some times his hair was up, sometimes down, sideways, topped with ribbons, tucked in a bandana or wearing sunglasses. I swear he's an alien.

Well OSJB eventually broke up and I personally thought that was it for Dan. It wasn't until I heard of a little band called "Heroin Dog" That I learned that Dan was back. This time he had managed to gather around him a new group of extremely talented musicians. It amazed me at the quality of the people he had recruited in such short time. His guitarist is an amazing musician who these days can be seen playing Jazz night at the Swindlefish. He also had an Italian George Clooney look-alike on bass named Frank Villante who had this nasty habit of being able to figure out almost every song after hearing it for the first time. I had to fight back a few pangs of ancient jealousy when I saw Dan and his new lineup perform at the Dugout. They had managed to pack the place early and keep the crowds till close. Something few bands in this town are capable of. Over the next few months I had the pleasure of seeing Dan and Heroin Dog perform at the Dugout several times mainly because my band was opening up for them. Heroin Dog also played in the cold freezing rainstorm that was Stewart Fest last year (held in my back yard at the time).

dan dreifort and ethan mccarty 1993I believe the most impressive thing about Dan Dreifort has been his growth as a musician. I remember talking to Mr. Villante about Dan and he said something like "Yeah, Dan's great. Pop, Jazz, whatever. He'll do it all." In the short time I've known Dan he's transformed his sound from REM ballads, to blatant pop, to "lounge music with an attitude", to jazz. No matter what direction he moves towards he still carries with him a signature sound that is hard to describe but definitely noticeable. It could be his catchy lyrics, or perhaps his heavily distorted catchy hook riffs on guitar. Whatever it is, I could recognize it as a Dan Dreifort song within seconds

It has been six years since I first heard mention of Dan Dreifort (pronounced dry-fort not dree-fort) . Hopefully, ten years from now, while I'm lying on a beach in Tahiti, I'll turn on the radio and hear news that Dan and his band (whoever that will end up being) have gone triple platinum. If anyone in this town has a real chance of making it big in the real music world it's Dan. I think his unique style, his humor, his warm personality is enough to carry him farther than any Athens musician has gone before.

So that's my little story on Dan and his many bands. Dan's current project (at the time this was written) is "Flying Mantra" which has our very own Roman Warmke on bass. I haven't had a chance to see them yet but I'm looking forward to it and you should too, damn it. Now that I've said my spiel lets take a look at his bio-type-thingy.

Dan Dreifort - a Biography. (by several abusive aliens)

PART 1: Early origins, a father's story

I was stumbling through the trailer park one night.....just finished a jug of moonshine while I was listening to Black Sabbath and the Bee Gees. I was feeling frisky so I walked up to Thelma, my bullish wife and gave her the ole monkey shaft. I swear if she were any bigger I'd think she was Jeb, my nephew... but Oh Nelly I could feel the Woman all over my man meat. After I was done I slapped Thelma upside the head, and walked down to the Lake to puke, and that's when I knew ...I looked up in the brightly lit sky and saw the image of Lita Ford in black Leather....she seemed to be telling me that I'd have a little Billy of my own...and he'd be an average musician, a descent song writer, funny looking, and weird as hell... I fell to my knees and wept, then I puked, then passed out till Vern the Irish Setter piddled on my head the next morning. After kicking Vern a few times I walked up to Thelma and said we're having a rock star as a kid! Thelma wept thinking that he'd be the next Andy Gibb, Ozzy Osborne, or Pat Boone.....instead he's Dan.....not all stories are happy!

Daniel Dreifort Biography PART 2: Suspicious Origins

Daniel Dreifort was born on a clear bright day in a howling wind. He was discovered in a forest and raised by a roving band of Shoalin Monks. Early on they recognized he had a talent for making loud, somewhat melodious sounds with musical instruments. Shortly thereafter they turned him over to the Unitarian Universalists. Mr. Dreifort spent his childhood in the usual way, burning ants with a magnifying glass on hot summer days and used as a Red Herring in an elaborate Stradivarius smuggling scheme between Cleveland and Canada, via Lake Erie. His adolescence was spent being classically trained in the art of Fencing, stealing the hearts of women with his hypnotic Chi and distilling the essence of Robitussin from precious metals. Mr. Dreifort spent his late teens and early twenties swilling Rice Wine on an island off of Thailand, picking the flowers of Occidental philosophical thought. Mr. Dreifort currently lives in Athens with his cat Mr. Pips. He holds a Master of the Arcane Arts from Ohio University and is the last initiate of the Knights Templars.

Dan Dreifort Bio PART 3: How I got my first musical injection

stardate 7/21/89... I was minding my own biznatch... delicately devouring a scone. The gang of Suzuki Samurai riding bull dykes from Albuquerque swarmed from the stanky gutters. Sweating, or perhaps just glistening with excitement, the collective rammed a conveniently placed electric guitar up my ass, but we were in Europe so it was a 220 volt line instead of our standard wimpy USA 110 volts, so it really hurt, and frizzled my hair so bad that it looks like it does today... or something.

Dan Dreifort PART 4: Early field experience (A Former Roommate's Tribulations)

Dan and I did not see eye to eye on a majority of issues. He often thought I was frivolous and I often thought he was ludicrous, but we did have one thing in common: politics. I had asked Dan to accompany me on a job I was assigned to do as the White House Photography Intern (no, I did not know Monica Lewinski was boinking the president at this present time) in New York City. Dan, both intrigued and quite curious, figured he could make the trip in between his Culture and Museums trip planned for Eastern Europe and the musical tribute he had already scheduled for the Save the Taiwanese Chimps Foundation.

Dan met me in NYC and I shared with him our assignment-To accompany and document through the lens of our cameras, the President's Family tour of the Inter-City.

Clinton was getting his lessons in jive and rap culture when I introduced Dan to The Man. Clinton looked into Dan's bright brown eyes and said: "Son, you are going to be something someday, a real hero to the tribe that you came from." (He was referring ton Dan's out of control 'Fro)

Dan, I, and the NYC Horse Patrol walked and walked. After about two hours of walking though the projects and listening to Clinton and Chelsea talk about the horrible downfall of the rap group NWA, a loud crash was heard not to far behind us. Dan, who had been walking behind the President, quickly spun around to place the sound. Before he could open his mouth, he saw the rapid horse approaching at top speed. Dan grabbed Chelsea and threw her over his shoulder. Next he swooped up Hillary and gently cupped her in his arms and ran the to women to safety, without even a scratch. Luckily, a security card was able to shoot the crazy horse to death-it only took 30 shots.

To this day, Dan is revered for his brave heart and is reported by People Magazine to be shaking up with Chelsea in her Stanford dorm room. Hence, Dan has been known to the general public as Adventure Man!!

Dan Dreifort Bio PART 5: What the boss' wife says

Dan is a really outgoing, hip, swingster. He's all that and a bag of spam. Dan is smooth with all the hotties. When he says jump, they jump right out of their clothes and throw themselves at his feet. Dan is hot. Dan is far too sexy for the mundane world in which he is forced to live. But Dan is a decent, hard working guy. He slaves away all day at a growing ISP, just so that the technologically illiterate, the humbled masses of Appalachia's mouse-impaired can finally find that "ANY" key, all the while knowing that he could have a harem of drooling women all to himself. Dan could have it all, but due to temporal lobe impairment, he works extra hours for shit pay for my slave-driving husband. If only there were more true gentlemen, like Dan Dreifort, I would have more choice in my masturbation fantasies.


Dreifort, Dan - Bio - PART 6: Dan Dreifort's Escapades on the South Seas

The trials and tribulations of life on the road are nothing, I suspect, in comparison to the several months of hell Dan Dreifort and his willing crew endured while crossing the southern Pacific on a balsa wood raft. Dehydration, sharks, and ever-present defecation logistics problems were only a portion these trials. In response to his well heeled, and I suppose, much dryer critics back home, Dan would shout: "check me now, bitches!", as he bobbed and thrashed hither and thither, forehead caked with his less stalwart crew members' bile. It was this sort of gutsy panache Dreifort was most well known for outside of academic circles, (before he found his fame on the high seas, of course) having once shouted at FDR during a Democratic party fund-raiser: "Shut up bitch!." That was just after the Korean war- heady times for most Americans- and indeed for Dan as well, as he had just become the first man to ever walk on the moon. Perhaps it was this sense of American hubris which prompted then Chicago governor Ronald Reagan to portray Dreifort in the most expensive feature film ever made: "Whither Kon Tiki?" This marked a considerable departure for Reagan, whose film credits to that date included "The Godfather" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in which he portrayed a very light skinned black man. This episode would later strike then Oregon governor Ted Kennedy as being a very strange move, politically speaking...

Bio PART 7: Dan Dreifort's mom (Mrs. Dreifort, to you,) speaks out.

My son inherits his great mind, most of his talent, good looks, and (obviously) his beautiful hair from his mother. He was a tough kid to raise, but I think his father and I did a good job, considering. He has achieved a great deal but has not come anywhere near exploiting his immense potential. He is extremely loveable (bordering on the charismatic). Only three major faults come to mind at the moment: he can't spell, sometimes he threatens us with nonsupport in our old age, and the last is a dark secret known only to the immediate family.

Dan Dreifort Bio PART 8: Thanks, ladies

dan has always been there for me
even when i didn't want him to be.
he's one of those men who has been blessed
with the gift of music
lots of people have there own personal soundtracks
ya know...like the mix tapes we play on our headphones
those soundtracks that litter the memories of our life...
well, dan's music is in my soundtrack.
he has always inspired me, and made me feel like he's singing only to me.
that's the beauty of his gift
he can reach that part of your heart that remains untouched.
and he will always be one of the people i count as a permanent part of my life
his impression will always remain in my soul...
and so will that hand print on my ass.

Bio PART 9: A collection of quotes "by" and about Dan Dreifort

as Founder of People for a More Static World: Stop Plate Tectonics

I find more satisfaction in attaining small goals; in my spare time I practice eating a box of Mac & Cheese in three spoonfuls

"Dan has a wit that you rarely see, kind of like David Lee Roth's attitude with Van Halen. He has always penetrated me as a singer, his vocals always remind me of the good times to come."

"Nosebleeds aren't the first thing that one thinks of upon meeting Mr. Dreifort."

As for your stinking bio. You know that I have no real talent using words. If I think of something I will send it to you, but so far I am only coming up with, "frizzy-haired little freak." You are free to use that though, as long as I receive some royalties.

Dan is my hero cuz i went hiking one time and fell off and a rock monster bit my chin off but then, out of the sky...Whoooosh! Dan swooped down and rescued me and now he's got mass-carnage stains all over his t-shirt, but that's okay cuz that happens to heroes, sometimes.

Dan Dreifort PART 10: The sad truth

His early bands (87-92) included Your Mother and Her Howling Commandoes, The Kingdom of Big Rankin-Tape, Midian, Ace and Satan's Love Bunnies, The Flaming Geckos, and the not-so-originally named "Free Beer!" Dan Dreifort came to Athens in 1992 from the Cleveland area. His Athens-based bands have included: Walrus, Our Smiling Jesus Band, Cactus Pears, The Phat Band with Pizza, Carbon Based Souls, MC LowTech and Simon Slinkyhands, Heroin Dog, Flying Mantra, Martizatic!, ran., Poo Factory - featuring Bony Pony, and Dan Dreifort has been known to play out solo under the nom d' plume pseudonyms of Ooga the Shewalrus of the North and AdventureMan! Competent on the guitar, bass, drums, piano, voice, trumpet, bazooki, and struggling to learn the flute, his true musical passion is to get his girlfriend to learn an instrument.

bio credits


this article originally published on The Athens Musician Network. Go back to uncool.