Rocking entrepreneur mixes music, marijuana

09/14/2020 01:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Blues performer and Cherokee Nation citizen Danny Baker runs a medical marijuana dispensary, performs with his band and is working on a new album. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Danny Baker has been a staple of the Tulsa blues music scene for decades. COURTESY
COLLINSVILLE – Longtime blues artist Danny Baker has channeled a love for music and marijuana into successful business ventures that have helped heal his heartache.

An acclaimed guitarist, singer, songwriter and Cherokee Nation citizen, Baker, now 55, has been performing professionally since he was a teenager. During the years, he’s also built a successful record label, Bison Records, and music publishing company. But two years ago, the familiar life he’d known took a turn when his wife of 15 years, Natalie, died suddenly from a heart attack.

“I was going through a lot of grief,” Baker, of Collinsville, said. “Grief’s a terrible thing. If you don’t stay busy, it will kill you. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. It took me a while to get going. Now that I’m going, I’ve turned into a workaholic again.”

After his wife’s passing, Baker quit his job at the CN’s Food Distribution site in Collinsville, then opened a marijuana dispensary the following year.

“My band members and my oldest brother were very supportive and told me I had to live again,” he said. “So I’ve combined my record company with a marijuana dispensary.”

Baker’s business, Bison Records Dispensary, is in Owasso.

“A lot of people in the music and entertainment industry smoke pot,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of medical value to it even though the government doesn’t acknowledge it. When my wife passed away, I hadn’t smoked pot in 15 years. They gave me some before the funeral, and it helped me get through it. I’ve been smoking it ever since.”

Born and raised in Tulsa, the blues rocker remains active with his Danny Baker Band, performing while also working on a fifth album.

“Some people still bill me as Little Danny Baker,” he said. “That’s what I made a name for myself as in the blues world. I’m known as a classic ‘Tulsa sound’ artist. Man, (the Tulsa sound is) really hard to explain. Some don’t even think it exists anymore. We’ve incorporated every kind of style of music you can into the Tulsa sound and kind of turned it into its own kind of blues-based rock. When you hear it, you know it.”

His many influences include Eric Clapton, at one time a frequent Tulsa performer. But it was the king of rock ‘n’ roll who changed Baker’s life.

“When I was 11 years old, my mother and my grandmother took me to see Elvis Presley,” Baker said. “He was playing guitar and singing, and those women were throwing clothes at him amongst other things. I was kind of playing drums in the school band at time. I quit that and started playing on my brother’s guitar.”

To help promote his first album, Mama’s Cookin’, in 1999 Baker started a record label and soon began taking on other Tulsa artists. The highlight, he said, was an album for Tulsa sound singer Bill Davis, who has since passed.

“I put out a true, classic Tulsa sound album called ‘Bill Davis, Same Old Blues,’” Baker said. “It’s just a fantastic album. Then after that, everybody in the Tulsa sound that were my friends came calling. I still do a lot of publishing and copyright work for other labels and other artists more than my own, but I don’t mind helping others.”

Baker said his artistic side was likely handed down from his mother, “a very proud Cherokee woman.”

“She loved to write stories and she was an artist,” he said. “She actually won a few awards writing little children’s stories in Cherokee. I still wear my little beaded medicine belt my mother had made for me way back when I was a teenager. I still wear it proudly when I play.”

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About the Author
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late  ... • 918-453-5269
Chad Hunter has spent more than two decades in the newspaper industry as a reporter and editor in Arkansas, Oklahoma and his home state of Missouri. He began working for the Cherokee Phoenix in late ...


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