As a child, Big Joe (b. Joseph Maher, c.1964, Washington, DC, USA) heard R&B and blues from his father’s record collection. In the mid-80s, he began playing drums while still attending school and was soon active in local R&B bands such as the Uptown Rhythm Kings. Over the next few years he continued playing and also singing with various groups. He formed his own band, the Dynaflows, with bass player Jeff Sarli, who he had first met when both were with the Uptown Rhythm Kings. Also in the early Dynaflows line-up was Kevin McKendree (keyboards) while other members have included Alex Schultz (guitar) and Joe Stanley (saxophone). In his own band, in addition to playing drums Big Joe also sang extensively; drumming lead singers are a rarity in any genre and especially so among blues bands.
Forming the core of Big Joe’s group’s music is the raw and energetic jump blues that had its origins in the 40s with Louis Jordan and Lionel Hampton. The influence of musicians such as these is evident in Big Joe’s repertoire and style and even the songs he writes for his band also owe their form to the earlier tradition. On record dates, Big Joe has augmented his band with guests such as trumpeter Clyde Hunt and saxophonist Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff, while vibraphonist and keyboard player John Cocuzzi has also been much in evidence. Big Joe’s drumming is strong and rhythmic and his singing voice, a powerful baritone, is commanding. In 2005, Big Joe won a WAMMIE Award as Male Blues Vocalist Of The year. He also records with the Big Three Trio and Big Four Combo.