Big Daddy Love Headlines Second Night of BGVMF

North Carolina band Big Daddy Love will be the headliners on Saturday, August 13th at the Blue Grass Valley Music Festival, and we recently spoke to one of its members.

“I’m Brian Swenk, I play banjo for the North Carolina band Big Daddy Love. We have Scott Moss on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, he’s the principal songwriter; we have Joey Riccio on electric guitar and slide guitar; Ashley Sutton on bass; and Scotty Lewis on drums. We formed around seven years ago. We formed around the love of a lot of different types of music, and we all kind of brought different things to the table. I was a bluegrass player, three finger banjo player, and the original singer Daniel, he was a bluegrass guy, and the other guys were more rock ‘n ‘roll guys, so we kind of found this interesting blend of bluegrass and rock ‘n ‘roll. Some people said if Led Zeppelin had grown up on a dairy farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they might sound like us, or if you mix, say, the Allman Brothers with the Stanley Brothers, you might get close to us.

“We won the FloydFest competition in our first year for upcoming bands – put out some live albums, live dvd’s, we put out three studio albums, and that’s where we are today.

“We know the area because we tour so much that we drive through it, and it was always so beautiful and we would see signs for Blue Grass, VA, but there’s not a lot of cities or towns right around there, so we haven’t gotten to play that exact area yet, and so we’re looking forward to actually playing there. This is just such a great opportunity to kind of all get together and celebrate the fact that we’ve supported each other for so long, and it’s such a beautiful experience to be outside, listening to music and everything. If you’ve never done it, take a chance, do it, it’s worth it – it’s something you’ll never forget.

“We’re starting to slow down a little bit. When we first started, we were gung-ho, wide-open. We played upwards of 200, almost 250 shows a year, and that is an incredible amount for a band. Any band that is up there is pretty much on the road all the time. We gave up all kinds of jobs and relationships and everything, just to go at it full time, and we’ve had a lot of success. So now we’re at a point we are going to slow down a little bit – you know, we’re all getting a little older, and turning 40 and stuff, so instead of just running up and down the roads, we’re just going to play the bigger events and see how that works out for us.”

Even though I’m pushing 50, I let the “getting older and turning 40” comment slide – however, his remark about giving up relationships and jobs made me curious if their journey had been worth it.

“When we started out, we started out so fast. Our first couple years, we grew faster than most bands grow in five or six years. And so we took off, and a lot of people asked us what our goals were – ultimately, what is it we really wanted? And in today’s music industry, it’s not like in the glory days of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Today everything is different, and to go full on in today’s industry, success means something completely different than it did back then. So people would ask what’s your ultimate goal, and I would always tell people “just to not have any regrets.” We believe in this music so much, the only thing I want to do is look back and say we gave it our all – we gave it 100% no matter what happened, and to not have any regrets. And that’s exactly how we feel. We have traveled all over the country, and made some of the best friends, and had some of the most amazing times you could  ever ask for, things that money literally cannot buy – the experiences and the friendships all over the country. So we did that, and in that way, we’re really rich.

“So what we gave up in relationships and careers, we definitely earned back in life experience – and it’s the type of experience, that, I imagine, when you’re old and kind of looking back on your life, that it really will mean the most, out of everything you’ve done.”

More information about the band is available at their website,

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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