Taddy Porter: birds, brews and baseball, with a rock'n'roll attitude
Taddy Porter will perform at Penn's Peak on Thursday night as part of a bill with Saving Abel, American Bang and Sugar Red Drive.
Taddy Porter is named after a beer and has a lead singer whose family has a background in baseball.
So what is the deal with the bird perched on the amplifier on the band's self-titled debut album, which has just been released?
"That's the scissored-tailed flycatcher, which is the state bird of Oklahoma," explained Taddy Porter's Andy Brewer, in a phone interview while on the road in North Carolina this week.
The bird is a nod to the quartet's Oklahoma roots. Formed in Stillwater in 2007, Taddy Porter is currently on tour with Saving Abel, including a stop at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe on Thursday as part of a bill that also includes American Bang and Sugar Red Drive. Showtime is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Being out on the road with Saving Abel, which is currently touring in support of its "Miss America" album, is nothing new for Taddy Porter, which also includes guitarist Joe Selby and the brother rhythm section combination of bassist Kevin and drummer Doug Jones.
"We initially got our feet wet with Saving Abel," said Brewer. "We have the same management as they do, and we played our first show at the New Daisy Theater in Memphis with them. It was kind of like a try-out for us."
While he is pursuing a career in rock'n'roll, Brewer comes from a baseball family. His grandfather, Jim Brewer, pitched in the major leagues with the Cubs, Dodgers and Angels, and his father Mike is the pitching coach for the Class AA Binghamton Mets. Andy himself was a pitcher and middle infielder who at one point was a Dodgers draft pick.
When it comes to band names, however, Brewer went the ironic route, with another type of draft.
Taddy Porter takes its name from what is considered the first commercially brewed beer, which is still produced by the Samuel Smith brewery in Yorkshire, England.
"Doug and I were the first members of the band, and tried to find a good name to fit our style," explained Brewer. "We came up with a lot of bad names. As a college student, I was in a bar at one time and went to the beer fridge, and I found this beer for $8.50 a bottle called Taddy Porter."
The band members have yet to sample their namesake brew, however.
"We have superstitious attitudes," mentioned Brewer. "We feel that if we try the beer, the band will fizzle out. We've tried Samuel Smith beers, but Taddy Porter is the best beer we've never tried. If we ever get a number one on the rock charts, maybe we'll try it then, but for now, I'm sticking with Pabst Blue Ribbon and Coors Light."
The band's management contacted the brewery about using the name and got permission. "We could both benefit from it," said Brewer. "Taddy Porter is big in Europe but not in the U.S. We've found there's been an increase in sales when we've played in Michigan and Oklahoma."
Brewer said the band has thought of coming up with a mascot character to represent Taddy Porter, which in his mind would be sort of a sophisticated, monacled Englishman with a pint glass who could grace the cover of its albums.
That would be a contrast to the band's hard rocking sound, which is reminiscent of early Black Crowes. Tracks such as "Big Enough", "Whatever Haunts You" and "King Louie" crackle with attitude.
"We get that comparison a lot," said Brewer. "I've always been a big fan of The Black Crowes. They're a great band. We have some old school, classic rock songs, some Southern, some not so. You can tell we're not just a Southern rock band. We're a band that looks to reach everyone."
Another baseball connection: New York Mets pitcher Mike Pelfrey uses Taddy Porter's "Shake Me", the band's first single, as his warm-up music.
n addition to exposure on the Saving Abel tour, Taddy Porter will be on the road with former Guns'n'Roses and Velvet Revolver guitarist Slash later this year.
"You would think we'd take a break, but we have this opportunity. The tour with Slash starts on Sept. 10 in Toronto, and we are extremely excited about it," said Brewer. "Slash is one of the greatest living guitarists around right now."
If Taddy Porter continues to build on its momentum, it could be brewing the recipe for success.
Saving Abel with American Bang, Taddy Porter and Sugar Red Drive will perform at Penn's Peak on Thursday, Aug. 19. Tickets are $22 in advance and $27 the day of the show for general admission seating. Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.com, and Ticketmaster outlets, including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, as well as at the Penn's Peak box office and Roadies Restaurant. Call (866) 605-7325 for more information.