Danielle’s journey, sometimes also shared with Brendon, his harmonica-playing younger brother, would take him as far north as Detroit and back through Arkansas to Arizona, where he found full-time work as a performing musician.
Along the way, he met fellow traveler and Dallas-based drummer Arturo Offutt-Garza while en route to San Antonio. In true Jack Kerouac fashion, the two friends hopped trains and played music for small crowds in whatever towns they found themselves. Unknown to them at the time, it was this friendship that seven years later would lay the foundation for Dallas blues band Wayside Motel.
“We met around Texas just traveling and hitchhiking,” Offutt-Garza says. "I just remember Caleb playing all of these songs on the road, and it was amazing because he never wrote any of them down. That just blew my mind."
Eventually, the duo’s trains would travel in different directions for a time, bringing Offutt-Garza back to Dallas to study at the Media Tech Institute, and Danielle further west to Flagstaff, Arizona. Although now gainfully employed as a working musician, he picked up some bad habits along the road that required him to spend several long stints in rehab.
“I was tired of breaking my own heart; I had two choices, either go to jail or go to rehab,” Danielle says. "After I left Flagstaff a year later I wound up hiding out in the woods in Arkansas and spent five or six months out there before I got fed up. I called my friend and producer Hunter [Stafford], and he came and picked me up. Arturo and Hunter were friends, too, so Arturo let me crash with him and his girlfriend in Dallas, and that’s how the band really got started."
Now back in Dallas playing music again with Offutt-Garza, Danielle was joined by his brother Brendon three months later. After writing more material with his drummer and a few other musicians, Danielle was ready to start recording the music he'd been working on at Stafford Studios.
“Over the period of years people kept telling me to get our shit recorded,” Danielle says. "I’d had enough of just hanging out and not releasing music. Around that same time, Brendon and I had played a really great show together at a place called The Deli, and that made me realize that music is all I need to be doing."
As the recording process progressed and Wayside Motel started playing gigs around Dallas, the group picked up lead guitarist and fellow Media Tech employee Michael Mack. Mack was working at the studio when Offutt-Garza and Danielle approached him about sitting in on a recording session.
“Caleb kept coming up to my desk at work and telling me ridiculous jokes, and I thought he was an interesting dude,” Mack says. "After hearing the music they were making, I definitely wanted to bring emotion out of the songs. I felt like they were missing another person, and knew I could be that person."
"After hearing the music they were making, I definitely wanted to bring emotion out of the songs. I felt like they were missing another person, and knew I could be that person." –Michael Mack
They also found classically trained jazz bassist Brendan Bogus of the bands The Black Water Hose, Full Stops and Natural Vibes to join the lineup.
“What I heard before joining, I was never really super impressed with bassists following the guitar,” Bogus says. "I’m interested in crafting my own melody and rhythm. If you’re good at something and have a passion for it, you should push for that."
On Nov. 18, a four-song EP titled Eleven AM Checkout was released on all streaming platforms as Wayside Motel’s first offering. Under Stafford's direction, the band crafted a unique sound that some have called grunge blues, while others have compared it to the likes of early Kings of Leon. Danielle’s voice has a crooning quality about it that relays raspy overtones, channeling both the grit and delicacy of seminal grunge singers. Standout tracks include “Love Again” and “Beg.” Through group collaboration and with the addition of Danielle’s brother on the harmonica, Wayside Motel is just getting started.
For Danielle, the excitement of sharing the writing, recording and performing experience with family and friends is something for which he is grateful. Everything else besides playing music to him "is just merely waiting," he says
“The relationship we’ve built with each other is a bit wishy-washy, but at the end of the day after a show, when we are sweaty with grins on our faces, I can’t help but say how goddamned honored I am to share that energy,” Danielle says. "I’ve lived these songs and it’s emotional for me because I get caught up in the actual experience of living."