Band Bio

On Kindred Sun, the antepenultimate track off of Dangermuffin’s critically acclaimed 2017 album, Heritage, Dan Lotti sings: The path ahead unfolds. The map lays out in front of you. Push pins into the souls of the lands that inspire you. Part exhortation, part personal mantra, the words reflect the band’s own musical course, always heading somewhere but following their hearts and trusting the universe’s energies to guide them.

In 2007, those energies first aligned to connect Lotti and Mike Sivilli and form the genesis of the band now known as Dangermuffin. Lotti, already an award-winning songwriter, and Sivilli, a prodigious and fast-rising guitarist on the Charleston, South Carolina music scene, quickly spotted a unique musical synergy. To Lotti’s profound lyricism and moving vocal delivery, Sivilli added an equally expressive six-string “voice,” creating distinct sonic textures and phrasing that both punctuated and enriched Lotti’s lush and oftentimes reflective musical storylines. Indeed, the roots of the Dangermuffin sound had started to take form, and the two artists would collaborate that year (with Jim Donnelly on drums) to record the band’s inaugural and widely acclaimed album, Beermuda.

Less than a year later, in 2008, the universe would again intervene, introducing Steven Sandifer to the band. Sandifer, a highly sought-after drummer and percussionist on the Charleston music scene, had caught the ears and interest of Lotti and Sivilli, and the three began to play out locally, discovering a powerful musical symmetry and an equally strong personal connection. If 2007 planted the roots of a Dangermuffin sound, 2008 would see those roots firmly take hold, establishing the foundation for the band’s early studio recordings and exhilarating live performances.

“This band, pure in its intent and endlessly melodic in results, will reward you repeatedly for sharing with them their passionate quest to discover and augment heritage.”

– No Depression

Whether in the studio or on stage, Dangermuffin’s sound has always been conspicuously greater than the sum of its parts, and to witness the band live is to question everything you know about the dynamics of sound. While your eyes perceive a trio, your ears challenge that perception, registering a much broader, fuller, and complex soundstage. In part, this is due to Lotti’s clever technique of using the bass strings of his guitar to mimic the low end of an actual bass while concurrently playing rhythm, but it’s as much due to Sivilli’s fluent, poignant, often soaring riffs, and Sandifer’s creative, jazzy, and lively skins. Nowadays, the band alternates between trio and quartet, but this phenomenon was particularly evident in the early days, when the band played exclusively as a threesome.

Between 2008 and 2012 the band would split their time between the studio and the road, recording three more albums and aggressively touring the country in support of their music. Within that period, the trio would release both Moonscapes, the band’s most polished and carefully produced album to that date, and Olly Oxen Free, a breathtaking, multi-genre compilation and winner of the HGMN Album of the Year for 2012. Radio stations, music publications, and music junkies across the country were taking notice, and the band would begin playing major music festivals such as Wanee, AllGood, Wakarusa, and Gathering of the Vibes, and sharing bills with bands and artists such as Hot Tuna, Grace Potter, moe, Keller Williams, Leftover Salmon and many other prominent national acts.

Of course, as bands become more prominent so, too, does the tendency of the industry to try to classify and define them, and Dangermuffin is no exception. Tagged every style from jamband and southern rock to acoustic folk and bluegrass, the band has consistently shattered all categorizations and defied pigeonholing. While “Roots-Rock Americana” might be the most fitting and recurring label for the band, no designation perfectly characterizes Dangermuffin and its sound. As both Lotti and Sandifer assert: We’re the American Experience, which is a melange of styles, including roots, rock, bluegrass, reggae, island, and many other influences. We’re multi-genre.

“Charleston is a warm, yet cool city with a lot of color and vibe to it, so it isn’t surprising that a band could take those natural elements of their home base, integrate it into their music and then start to add the nuances to really give themselves that something to make them stand out from the others.  Dangermuffin have managed to do it effortlessly and joyfully.”

– PopDose

While it may be futile to try to define Dangermuffin’s sound, it is possible to pinpoint the themes that inspire much of band’s music, and perhaps no theme is as prominent and consistent as nature, including the ocean, the sun, and the mountains…all ancient and powerful and capable of immeasurable and profound healing. These ideas, running like threads through almost every Dangermuffin album, together form the basis of some of the band’s most deeply held principles and teachings: respect the earth, stay open to the universe, and strive for healing. Not coincidentally, according to Lotti, if Dangermuffin’s music could accomplish just one thing, it would be to heal.

Since 2017 and the release of Heritage, the band has undergone perhaps its greatest evolution, both in format and sound. Most notably, it started touring with a new drummer (Adam Williams), freeing up Sandifer to play the upright bass, congas, and other percussive world instruments. Having the flexibility to play as either a trio or quartet has allowed the group to shift between intimate, acoustic experiences and rockin’ electric journeys, liberating setlists and empowering the band to play a greater variety of tunes live. For the band and fans alike, this has led to some of Dangermuffin’s most inspired, exciting, and surprising performances of its career, and has planted the seed of an epic live album release in 2019—the universe and its energies permitting!

“Dangermuffin hails from Charleston, S.C., and this album reflects the light and airy ways of the south. A little pickin’, a little grinnin’ and a lot of soul and groove have given Dangermuffin an album to be proud of.”

– NYS Music

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  • Steven Sandifer
    Drums, percussion, upright bass, vocals

    Born and raised in Charleston SC, Steven began playing drums in his senior year of High School. He quickly realized that music was his passion and started studying music at the College of Charleston, where he received a BA in Jazz Performance (on Drum Set). He made a career as a local musician in the Charleston area before moving to Nashville with a band called The Biscuit Boys.

    After some wonderful times recording and touring with The Biscuit Boys, they parted ways and Steven began freelancing. Over the next 15 years, he was blessed with performing, touring, and recording with many nationally acclaimed artists including Adrienne Young and Little Sadie, The Ranchhands, The Drew Emmitt Band, and The Emmitt-Nershi band.

    Steven is currently touring and recording with Dangermuffin, while continuing to freelance around the Charleston area and beyond. In recent years, he’s started playing bass and percussion along with the drum set. He has performed at hundreds of festivals, and has shared the stage with a long list of bands and performers in 48 US States and 12 countries, logging well over a million miles across the highways of the US.

    Current touring gear:

    Drum set
    1960’s era Rogers Red Onyx drum set, Sizes, 12/14/20, and a 14’’ Tama Starclassic Bubinga Snare. Cymbals are a mix of Zildjian, Sabian, Bosphorus, and an occasional ‘no name’ vintage cymbal.

    LP Classic Series Congas, and a mixed big of sound makers.

    Chadwick Folding Upright Bass, a 1970’s Univox Hi Flier Electric Bass, both through a TC Electronic RH 450 Head.

  • Mike Sivilli
    Lead guitar, vocals

    It wasn’t until about age 19 that Mike picked up his first guitar and awkwardly strummed a couple chords. A crappy student model with one string missing was enough to get started playing some Weezer and Pearl Jam songs in his college dorm. In the summer of ’97 he acquired an old electric guitar and amp (both from the sixties, both for free!) and that certainly shaped his musical path to more lead-guitar approach. The influences became more blues and classic rock, especially David Gilmour, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Trey Anastasio, and others. The available sustain and forgiveness of a tube amp opened up a new world of expressiveness, a quality that would lead Mike to study phrasing, tonality, and texture, often with the goal to mimic the human voice. He wanted to “sing”, and the guitar would become his primary voice.

    Mike toured with a few different songwriters for about 5 years before forming Dangermuffin with Dan in 2006. This would become a huge step forward in developing new rhythmic and melodic ideas, recognizing the open space within the music allowed for so much more freedom to play, a wider area of musical air with which to breathe and write. That evolution continues today, as Dangermuffin has been the ideal platform for musical exploration, understanding and tuning into the essence of each song and forming a universal energy on stage each time we play them. It is this energy and gratitude that we hope to share with the world, with every note.

    Oh, and Mike still haas that 60’s tube amp, and the 60’s guitar hangs on the wall of his sister’s NYC apartment.

    Current touring gear:

    Santa Cruz 1929-OO
    LR Baggs Venue DI
    GHS Infinity Bronze 13-52 hybrid Strings

    Hamer Newport Pro
    Fargen 49×54 Tweed Amp
    GHS Burnished Nickel 11-50 Strings

  • Dan Lotti
    Lead vocals, guitar

    At a very young age, Dan knew music was his calling. Even in elementary school, he discovered performing in musicals and instantly loved it. He’s  found similar results as he’s grown up.

    High school was tough for Dan until he found music… it kept him out of trouble. He used to wheel his guitar and amp down to his neighbor’s garage where he rehearsed with his first band, Rust, and began playing grunge songs…a true garage band! He would put on concerts at the local pizza hang and even got so rowdy once, the ceiling tiles were torn down from the crowdsurfers. Even at that age, he was drawn to writing original pieces and Rust even put out a cassette (whoa) of original material.

    After graduating high school in southern Maryland, Dan went to college in Charleston, SC. The first year as he was getting his bearings and didn’t play much music. It didn’t take him long to realize just how much he needed music in his life. Once he began performing in Charleston, the floodgates opened in his life, full of friends and gigs and purpose. Through some of these great friends, he began gigging on a regular basis, 3-5 nights per week… from there he learned to sing in front of people, and started learning the intricacies of performance.

    After getting his degree in business he moved to NYC and pursued music from another angle. He had some magical times in the back bars of the songwriters’ collectives that he used to frequent in the East Village, and learned more than he realized from these experiences about what a true song should be. From there he eventually found the hustle and bustle to be the opposite of what he wanted. He just knew that he had to center his life around music, and returned to Charleston, SC to basically start over again.

    Upon his return he met Mikie and the two started gigging together around the area… they made a living off of this for a number of years and had a lot of fun in a great town. Eventually, they met Steven and the rest is history! Now he’s based in western Carolina, in a home deep in the mountainous forests, where he draws inspiration and balance and a life of touring. Dan is truly grateful.

    Current touring gear:

    Larivee and Godin guitars
    A Little Thunder bass octave pickups
    LR Baggs and Ampeg signa