Artist Spotlight: Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish
Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish was first formed circa 1995 by founding member Jeff Tappe. He and Ed Couture were members of one the area’s most popular variety bands called, “The Shop.” Jeff and Ed were looking to put something together on the side as sort of a change of pace from The Shop. Long time friend of Jeff’s, drummer, Bob Gibb, was just hanging out in New Martinsville. He was a natural fit. The call was made and Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish was born. Jeff and Ed continued with The Shop and Bob was doing a lot of freelancing, so Smoke Daddy was just a side project for the guys. The band gigged infrequently at first, playing about once a month at “Down on Main St.,” and “Peaches,” in North Wheeling. It wasn’t long before harp player extraordinaire, Scott Hostutler, started showing up and jamming with the guys. He quickly became a full time Crawfish. One of the band’s strengths was being able to play just about any type of music from rock, to blues, country, jazz, R&B, to reggae. The set list for the night depended on where they were playing. The four piece band started picking up more gigs and an ever increasing following of fans. They quickly became known for their spontaneous jams and their high energy shows. Fueled by the tremendous talents of the musicians and their love of music, the band put their own spin on the songs they did. The fall of 2000 saw some major changes for Smoke Daddy.
After decades of entertaining crowds in the Ohio Valley, The Shop called it quits and Ed Couture surprised all by announcing his pending departure from Smoke Daddy. Everyone was ready to focus their full attention on the Crawfish now. Finding a bass player to take Ed’s place would be a tough task. The band picked up Ohio Valley icon, “Uncle Ed” Mahonen to play bass. The multi-talented Mahonen is the banjo player in “The Short Creek Flat Pickers,” but was about to become the bass player in the Crawfish. The addition of Uncle Ed opened up a whole new spectrum of music for the band to explore. The capabilities of the band members to play multiple instruments, led to the band working up a whole set of bluegrass and acoustic folk music to add to their repertoire.
The band’s popularity really took off over the next year or so. Having already established themselves as one of the hottest club bands in the area, they soon started picking up gigs at local fairs and festivals, private parties, and at Oglebay and Wheeling Parks. The next couple of years saw the band enjoy unprecedented success. During this time, the band experimented with different line ups. At one point, the band actually expanded to six pieces, with a sax player and a percussionist. By May of 2003, the band had settled into the current lineup consisting of 4 full time members. Original bass player Ed Couture has returned, replacing Uncle Ed. Long time Crawfish Scott Hostutler has moved on, and the very talented Chuck Lemasters, has joined the band playing electric and steel guitar. With the guys being friends with many local musicians, you just never know who might jump up on stage when Smoke Daddy is in the house.
Smoke Daddy and the Crawfish have firmly established themselves as one of the Ohio Valley’s best and most in demand variety/cover bands. Over the last several years the band has enjoyed a very close relationship with the folks at Oglebay Park. They have played for many special events at Oglebay Park including New Year’s Eve, Oglebayfest, Fireworks on the lake, and concerts at the beautiful outdoor Anne Kuchinka Amphitheater. The band has been fortunate enough the last few years to be asked to play for the Easter Seals Telethon broadcast on TV 7. They have played at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, Wheeling Sternwheeler Festival, Pickin’ in the Park in Warwood, Waterfront Wednesdays in Wheeling, Monroe County Fair, and many other popular local events. They have even played at Heinz Field for corporate tailgate parties before Steeler games on a few occasions.
Throughout the year, you can catch Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish just about any place where live music is played. They play at many area clubs. During the summer months they play at a variety of local fairs, festivals, parties and weddings. The band is made up of some of the valley’s finest players. They play multiple styles of music, depending on the audience. The band might play 2 completely different shows on consecutive nights, depending on where they are playing. They don’t set out to play songs “just like the record.” They put their own spin and interpretation on each song. The band is fueled by the talent of the musicians and their pure love of playing music! If you haven’t seen Smoke Daddy & the Crawfish, you’re missing out. Do yourself a favor; find out where they are playing this weekend and check them out!