Oh, Danny be good

Just like every local music scene, Provo has its disappointments, but Danny Torriente is not one of them. His audiences can’t help but listen mesmerized or take to the dance floor as he lets his fingers “play” with the guitar in the literal sense — there is nothing methodical here. But his artistry doesn’t stop at the guitar. He can effortlessly switch instruments with his bassist Scott Manning as they harmonize and perform their repertoire together.

Guitar and bass are just the latest culmination of Danny’s musical progression. He began his music career playing the tambourine in his family’s 1950s rock band, then moved on to percussion, and then to piano — largely at his mother’s insistence. At the age of 14, he made the transition to guitar and began composing his own music more seriously. Torriente seems to have found his passion in this latest instrument, and rightly so. He’s good. Really good.

But was his inspiration the 1950s rock of his youth? Of course the happy, upbeat, familiar songs from his father’s band and childhood mean a great deal; however, his influences have also come from U2, Switch Out, Lifehouse and Vertical Horizon. Born in 1986, this is the music of his era.

Torriente likes the inspirational music that lends a message about optimism and finding peace in life’s choices. “I wouldn’t do music unless I had found a voice that I think needs to be heard, a voice that contributes to influence and helps others like it did me,” he said.

His niche is clear. He is a class unto himself. Could he be compared to Jon Bon Jovi, who has distinguished himself as both an artist and a “good guy”? Yes, absolutely! Millions love Bon Jovi’s style and persona, and its conceivable that Torriente could be the next bearer of his proverbial torch.

Today, there seems be a greater need for artists to deliver a more positive message in the midst of a world of confusion and turmoil. Not saccharine, empty-headed, overly-produced love ballads, of course; but fun, inspirational rhythms and thoughtful lyrics.

And just as Torriente’s exceptional talent isn’t content to lapse into either melancholy or triviality, it is also not content to just stay put. His sound reaches across borders to South America, where there is no artist like him and there is a great market for his style. It helps that he is fluent in Spanish.

Spanish is in his blood. Torriente is related to Fidel Castro’s first school minister in Cuba. In spite of Mr. Torriente’s disagreements with Castro in regards to the Revolution’s communistic bent, the school minister was and is a popular historical figure. Perhaps fame is in his blood as well.

Danny’s bachelors degree in history with a minor in Spanish speaks of a responsible person who hopes to reach out to the public with his countercurrent music. And although he prizes the pursuit of musical expression in his life, he also values the role a teacher has in our society.

The question is, will he teach and influence with his gifts and talents in music, or will he be a professor who brings joy and excitement into the classroom? Either way, his role is unavoidably that of teacher. And with his wide-eyed, positive message, he has a lot to teach a disheartened public.

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