Neil Morrow and Travis -Piano on the Patio

It has ever so often been said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Due to the Coronavirus, night-time has been dimmed to a flicker in most musical venues. However, I witnessed something recently when the Derby’s Bar and Grill introduced a special kind of entertainment under the stars as Neil Morrow opened his Piano on the Patio show. Neil and guitarist Travis Daggert caused the stars to shine brighter and toe-tapping a retro form of keeping time.

The joint jumped with the likes of Little Richard, Fats Domino, Billy Joel plus a dash of Sinatra and Reba McIntyre tossed in to spice up the already boiling stew of original rock and then some. Yes, the joint was jumpin’.

Actually, the music was so hot nobody noticed the chill of an October breeze drifting in from the Pacific Ocean. If you like Elvis, The Coasters, Kenny Rogers, Garth Brooks, Credence Clearwater or the Eagles you would have had more to digest than at a Thanksgiving Dinner in New England. These two guys are so talented I wondered why I’d never heard of them, so I began asking questions.

Neil began tinkling the ivories at age 4 or 5. His grandmother was a resident of Hemet and when he visited her, his fingers went directly to her upright Piano and there was born a true musician.

He explained, “I knew my fingers were gonna do something more than holding a shovel or pitchfork. L was born to play the Piano. Although I didn’t major in music, I was beginning to be seriously involved with music while in high school.”

After graduation, he began to play with different local bands throughout Orange County. “I was born and raised in Anaheim. I began to be known as the kid on the Piano, so I began to get lots of local gigs.

“I did a lot of work for Disneyland. That’s where I met Scott Bruce who was the official ‘Elvis’ for 15 years. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot about showmanship. I owe him a lot.”

Neil also toured with a group known as, “Cash, Killer and the King.” Johnny, Jerry Lee and Elvis. “We toured the country – the Nevada Clubs, Laughlin, Vegas and Mesquite, expanding into the Midwest and South. They loved our show in Mississippi and Louisiana because they were all born and raised Southerners; he admits to loving Swing and Country. “One of the greatest things about musicians is how they understand each other no matter the genre. I get requests from all generations. Sinatra or Little Richard. I keep tuned to the generational music progression.”

He no longer resides in Orange Country. “I recently moved my family to Menifee, a town nearby to Hemet.”

The COVID virus has restrained musicians in California. Lately, he has been performing in Arizona and Nevada. “Places I’ve had relationships with in the past that are still open. Right now, there are not many entertainment options in California. This is our first time at the Derby and the reception has been awesome. I think it is a great idea this ‘Piano under the stars. It is quite unique. I’m looking forward to coming back in the near future.”

His sidekick, Guitarist Travis Daggert, is a product of nearby Moreno Valley. His father was a Pastor, so his musical education began at age 12 in a church. He’s been working with Neil the past few years and they blend well together.

Everybody in the entertainment business, either artist or club owner, is struggling. Jesse Vivanco, the genial owner of Derby’s, has managed to survive the pandemic so far. Many club owners have shuttered their doors. A few have kept the home fires burning. Just sayin.’


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