The Catdaddies originated in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas, Texas.
It started as part of a challenge to members of the Lake Highlands Dads' club to participate in a school talent show—which was where the “band” had its first public performance in October 1998. Although all of the participants had families and "real" jobs, they enjoyed the experience of playing in front of an audience so much they decided to keep playing together and to form a "real" band. Because the original members all had kids attending Lake Highlands schools, which have the Wildcats as their mascot, the band chose the name "Catdaddies” (get it? Cat Daddies?).
The original members of the band were: Mark Sales (lead guitar), Steve Gwinnup (rhythm guitar), Roger Esparza (drums), Victor Cordova (bass), and Marty Lowy (lead singer). All of the band members—each of whom had some prior music experience—grew up during the late ‘60s and ‘70s (OK, mostly ‘60s) and were heavily influenced by the music of that era. Staying true to that influence, the band began playing covers of favorite classic rock and roll songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and the Kinks, as well as performing the blues and some original material written by Cordova and Sales.
During this time, and as most in the neighborhood who endured the noise will recall, the band rehearsed at the Lake Highlands Elementary School auditorium almost every Wednesday evening. Thank you LHE and all our neighbors - we wouldn't be around without your understanding and support!
The band's first real gig took place at Enchilada's restaurant on Northwest Highway in April 1999, and during those first couple of years the band played at several high-profile private parties and appeared on a local cable access television program. Keyboardist and vocalist Bryan Dunklin of Highland Park then joined and expanded the group's repertoire to include songs by the Doors, the Rascals and other organ- and piano-driven bands of the ‘60s. The band also became very involved in the community, performing at numerous charitable events and for other good causes.
In 1999, the band played at the very first Hughes & Luce Battle of the Bands at the Velvet Elvis club in Dallas. The bar closed the next day and was razed (merely a coincidence). For the next nine years, the band played the H&L Battle of the Bands--the longest running band to play that event. In 2000, the band was hired to play the New Millennium New Year's Eve gig at the new Knights of Columbus Hall on Northwest Highway (which they played for several years after), and it continued to play at both public and private gigs.
Because of the unique nature of a 40s-something band that included several attorneys – Sales, Dunklin, and Lowy, now a sitting state district court judge - the band began to receive attention from the media and appeared in a variety of newspaper and magazine articles, including The Dallas Morning News, the Lake Highlands Advocate, Texas Lawyer, Texas Bar Journal, and the Dallas Bar Association’s Headnotes.
In 2001, lead singer Lowy departed the Catdaddies to form Blue Collar Crime, a blues band, with local guitarist and attorney Randy Johnston. He was replaced by another attorney (and then incoming president of the Federal Bar Association), Kent Hofmeister. Hofmeister brought to the group not only his singing and guitar playing skills, but also his love of the Beatles, Elvis and Motown, which further expanded the band's song list.
The years 2003 through 2005 constituted a period of change with the departure of Esparza, Cordova and Gwinnup. Bart Sloan (bass player for local cover band Shig Shag) then joined the group on drums, and Brad Young of Lake Highlands, a seasoned bass player and rock vocalist, rounded out the lineup. Brad recruited his long time friend and former band mate, George Minton, to add his impressive chops to the mix and the band once again expanded it's song list to include more of the Psychedelic 60's genre (Hendrix, Cream, Deep Purple and even some ZZ Top).
Christina Melton Crain (vocals, percussion), who, like Sales, is a past president of the Dallas Bar Association, joined the band in 2006, opening up those Jefferson Airplane and Linda Ronstadt covers. In 2009, Steve Richey, also a Shig Shag vet, replaced Minton on lead guitar when George returned to his blues band Shade Tree. With Steve's blistering guitar solos, the band got even more media attention and props from KLUV Jody Dean, who on his morning radio show said that the Catdaddies were "incredible". The next year, the present-day Catdaddies came full-cycle when Sloan took an extended sabbatical with his wife to travel the world, and David Michnoff, who deftly picked up duties on the drum kit, came on board to assure that the beat goes on.
Over the years, the band has played at private parties, clubs, bars, restaurants, marathons, charitable functions, all three Dallas Bar Association-sponsored Law Jams (Granada Theater), and, in 2011, the Dallas Arboretum’s “Concerts at the Arboretum” series. The band has played too many gigs to mention (although we do keep a running list).
While the faces in the band have changed, the music and the friendships continue as we embark on the second half of our second decade as - the Catdaddies.