The Droptops were a trio from Mayland formed by John Bozarth on double bass and lead vocals, Christine Bozarth on drums and Elizabeth Doschek on guitar. They were active during the first decade of the new century. However, I couldn’t find the exact date when the band stopped.
All three members of the Droptops were musically inclined at a very early age. At 7, John learned to play trumpet and piano. “We had a piano in the house that no one used, so I started playing. As I focused on different instruments, I listened to different kinds of music featuring the kinds of things I was playing. That’s when I discovered jazz, listening to Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, all the standards.” Elizabeth’s father played classical piano, and her mother was a fan of 50’s Rock’n’Roll. They later went on to play in different bands in high school. John played trombone in the Jazz ensemble, Christine played the flute in the concert band and orchestra, and Elizabeth played violin in the orchestra. Like many, the three members of the Droptops were members of the Punk scene in their teens. Before forming the band, John and Christine played in a Punk band called the Drednoks, and Christine was a member of the Connecticut punk band the Snatch. And through that scene, they got introduced to the music of the Reverend Horton Heat and Johnny Cash. John was also a fan of Elvis, the Stray Cats and Bill Haley. “They were a different sound from most stuff played on the radio.” He found out that bands were playing that style of music. Elizabeth’s introduction to roots music came from her mom “pretty much since birth” with artists like Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
The Droptops formed in 2003 though the band’s origin is slightly older. Says Christine, “All three of us had been friends for years. Christine and I met in middle school, and we became friends with John a few years later in high school. After returning to the DC area after college in 2001, we decided to get together along with another friend, Brooks, to put together a rockabilly band. We played as a four-piece (with John on vocals and rhythm guitar, Elizabeth on lead guitar, Christine on bass guitar, and Brooks on drums) for a couple of years. In 2003 John and Christine switched instruments, Brooks left the band, and we formed the current version of the Droptops.” The guitar player adds, “We liked the sheer enthusiasm of the music and the excellent musicianship of many rockabilly artists. Rockabilly is both interesting musically and fun.” John completes, “I always liked the fact that you could make good music without having to be overly-proficient at your chosen instrument. It’s a lot of fun when you don’t have to concentrate on whether or not you’re the best at what you play.”
I always liked the fact that you could make good music without having to be overly-proficient at your chosen instrument. It’s a lot of fun when you don’t have to concentrate on whether or not you’re the best at what you play.
Asked about their influences, the band cited the Sun sound, Eddie Cochran, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. John added Marshall Lytle of the Comets “because that’s what got me into playing upright bass”. Christine said she worshipped Chuck Berry, “my guitar idol” She also added Chicago Blues artists like Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to the list. But the taste of the band proved to be broader than that. When I asked what was on their turntable at home, they gave the following answers: Christine “a lot of 50s rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and doo-wop; anything with a solid beat and energetic delivery”, John “Hank Thompson, Jackie Wilson, Louis Jordan, The Ramones, Gene Krupa, Bob Wills, Charlie Feathers” and Elizabeth “Chicago style blues, jazz from the 1940s to today, and 50s rhythm and blues and rock and roll artists.”
In 2007, the trio released an album on Wild Hare records. This album is made of 10 self-penned songs (although titles like “Rock! Rock! Rock!” and “Lovesick Blues” sound familiar, they are written by the band and are not Johnny Powers and Hank Williams’ songs), alternating slow and mid-tempo tunes. The whole cd is very coherent, and the production (as on every Wild Hare productions) manages to capture the excitement of the music. As they said, their sound is obviously influenced by Sun records, but you can also find some similarities with Jimmy Bowen in John’s voice. If you dig Rockabilly artists like Carl Perkins and Johnny Powers or today’s bands like The Flea Bops or The Raging Teens, this one will please you from start to finish.
We do think about whether our songs sound too much like other bands’ songs, particularly famous songs, when we write. This can be hard, especially if you’ve spent the day listening to Rockabilly! On more than one occasion I have written what I thought was a great song only to realize afterwards that it was exactly like some song I was listening to earlier.
About the songwriting
When we talked about the songwriting process and the trap of unconsciously re-writing some classics, Elizabeth answered, “We do think about whether our songs sound too much like other bands’ songs, particularly famous songs, when we write. This can be hard, especially if you’ve spent the day listening to Rockabilly! On more than one occasion I have written what I thought was a great song only to realize afterwards that it was exactly like some song I was listening to earlier.” That said, the brand of Rockabilly played by the Droptops remained very fresh. I see two main reasons. The first one can be found in the blues element added by Elizabeth. She developed her Rockabilly style by listening to the Rockabilly pioneers’ same things and not copying note-for-note Rockabilly solos.
The second reason is their songwriting “When we write, we don’t worry too much about sticking to the “rockabilly” genre. Most of our stuff is probably more like 50s rock and roll than Rockabilly anyway. We do probably try to stay away from writing material that sounds too modern. Our main goal in writing songs is to try to write songs that tap into our strengths as a band.”
The band worked on material for a second album, but I believe they stopped playing before it was recorded or released. As I said in the introduction, I couldn’t find exactly when the Droptops actually stopped playing. During his stint with the band in 2008, I know that John Bozarth joined the Garnet Hearts, who released one album on Wild Hare and a second one on Another Mile records. He later formed with Christine on drums and Andrew Ladson of the Garnet Hearts a band called the Charmers. An album was announced on Another Mile Record though I don’t think they ever released anything.
When writing this article, I searched the internet to complete my info. I was surprised that very few existed about the Droptops on the web. It’s quite unfair since it was an excellent band with a personal style and solid originals, and I hope this small article will fill that void.
Wild Hare Records presents… The Droptops
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Where There’s Smoke – Rock! Rock! Rock! – Walkin’ The Floor – You Treat Me Mean – She’s My Baby – Back With My Baby – Lovesick Blues – Stuck On You – When You Go – Disappearing Baby