By Johnny Griffith
Most musicians grew up dreaming about being on stage at some point, in front of a crowd of energetic fans eager to hear the music they create. There might be some versions of that dream that include fame, music videos, and a life on the road. Cody Wayne wasn’t one of those musicians.
Born in rural Rusk county, Wayne attended school at Leverett’s Chapel and West Rusk, but playing music wasn’t on his radar in those days. He certainly didn’t see the journey laid out before him that would bring him to where he is now: the head of one of the hardest working bands in the area, having shared the stage with national touring acts like Neal McCoy, Eli Young Band, Kevin Fowler, Jerrod Neimann, and more.
Cody’s love affair with music began in the most unlikely of circumstances while stationed in Japan during his enlistment in the Marines. After picking up his roommate’s guitar he never put it down again, going so far as to have a guitar shipped to Iraq so he could continue practicing his newfound craft. After moving back to East Texas post-enlistment, Wayne continued playing music, which grew into writing originals, playing in bands, and eventually finding himself in his eponymous band with success firmly in his sights.
I caught up to Cody in order to get a better picture of what’s going on with the Cody Wayne Band:
Johnny: When did you decide to take music past the hobby level and try to make it more?
Cody Wayne: We wouldn’t be doing this interview without my beautiful wife Tamra. She is the real reason this went from a hobby to something more. She had the knowledge, drive, and passion to take it to the next level. Her drive, our family, and our friends who support us and come to our shows, are what keeps this band moving down the road.
Johnny: What is your current band lineup and a brief background on them?
Cody Wayne: We have a great group of guys that are extremely talented and really makes playing music that much more fun.
Lead Guitar – Daniel Brousseau from Overton, Texas played guitar and worked the farm his whole life with a little military background mixed in.
Fiddle – Vic Andrews from Chicago, Illinois by way of Dallas Texas is a retired Marine Captain, Graduate of the Naval Academy, and all around good guy.
Drums – Billy Rasnake from Whitehouse, Texas by way of Huntsville, Alabama. The heartbeat of the band, teacher of music, husband, and father to a great family.
Bass – Brandon Pinkerton from Lindale, Texas is also a teacher of music for multiple instruments, maker of knives, and the groove of the band.
Without these guys, and their families, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this as well.
Johnny: How would you describe your music?
Cody Wayne: Our music is a mix of Hank Jr. with just a touch of Led Zeppelin and James Brown.
Johnny: Any previous recording work?
Cody Wayne: Yeah, there is an acoustic CD that every now and then someone reminds me of out there. Haha! Then, of course, there is the “Live At The Horseshoe CD.”
Johnny: About how many shows a month are you guys currently playing?
Cody Wayne: Counting acoustic gigs, it ranges from 12 to 20 depending on the time of year. Again, Tamra is amazing at what she does.
Johnny: What have some of the biggest challenges been to devoting more time to playing gigs and traveling?
Cody Wayne: Being away from our families is the hardest thing for us right now. We have been real lucky, and again my wife is amazing at what she does, which literally is everything, and we are keeping everything in house. Meaning we do our own booking, promotions, PR, and distribution. One night we might work until 4am and then be back up at 6am getting the boys ready for school, or driving to the next gig, or whatever this crazy ride of life asks of us. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Johnny: What has been your support base through the journey?
Cody Wayne: Family and friends! We have been fortunate enough to be able to keep our family and friends involved in everything we do. When we were sending out our last single “Take Me Drunk,” we had an assembly line in our living room. [Our kids] Hazen put one thing in an envelope, Arrington put another, Cason put another, Kayla put another, I did something else, and then Tamra put the final touches on it. It was our version of shelling peas with our grandparents.
Also, our friends have been a huge part of everything we do. I don’t like saying fans because that feels to me like I am putting ownership on them. They are not mine. I am so thankful and appreciative that anyone wants to listen to our music and come to our shows. It still blows me away.
Johnny: What has been your most memorable gig to date?
Cody Wayne: I am still getting chills even telling this story now. We opened for Asleep At The Wheel in San Antonio for the Texas Association of Fairs and Events for their annual convention. We received a standing ovation after our set was done, which was unimaginable to begin with. Then we got to meet Ray Benson and the band. After that we walked out from behind the stage, after Asleep at the Wheel had already started playing, and got another standing ovation. Ray Benson stopped his show until the crowd stopped. Unbelievable!
Johnny: What’s your proudest accomplishment so far in your career as a musician?
Cody Wayne: Just being able to play music and keep our family involved with everything and being able to have success and do things the way we want to.
Johnny: What’s your favorite cover song the Cody Wayne Band does that nobody else is doing?
Cody Wayne: I would say our Jam with a mixture of Stevie Wonder, to The Fresh Prince, to some Aerosmith. It’s just a little something different to change things up.
Johnny: Okay, let’s say I’m out on the weekend looking for a live show to enjoy. What sets The Cody Wayne Band apart from the other options I have?
Cody Wayne: The energy and the atmosphere. We bring a Garth Brooks style, ‘80’s stadium rock and roll show, to a honky tonk. Also, we keep it very family-friendly and get everyone involved from kids to grandparents. I’ll be dancing around and climbing on anything I can find.
Johnny: Tell us about the new Single “Fly High” that just dropped? What was the story behind it and how was the recording process?
Cody Wayne: We are really excited about “Fly High.” I went out to my father-in-law’s ranch and asked him if he had any advice about business and life. He said to me, “If you fly high, you can come in low.” Meaning dream big, and if it doesn’t work then you can always come back to where you started. So, I took that and two sayings from my step dad and a football coach and wrote a life advice kind of song. Just like all of my originals, it’s little bits and pieces of my life that come together to make a great song. The crew over at Rosewood Studios in Tyler are amazing to work with. Greg Hunt, Drew Hall, and Austin Deptula have put themselves in the mix with the largest names in music. We are lucky to have such a great studio here in East Texas.
Johnny: What’s next on the horizon for the Cody Wayne Band?
Cody Wayne (smiling): Going straight to the top.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Jason Herrin, Shooter Jennings, Dirty River Boys in Concert this Weekend
March 9th (8pm) Jason Herrin will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door. Cover is $7.
March 10th (8pm) – Shooter Jennings – Shooter Jennings is an American singer-songwriter, active mainly in the outlaw country music and Southern rock genres. He is the son of country music legend Waylon Jennings. Tickets range from $35 -$45. Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin St., Tyler. Tickets are available at libertytyler.com.
March 10th (8pm) – Dirty River Boys with Pushwater will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission.
March 16th (8pm) – Parker McCollum will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at wildtexastickets.com. Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Parker McCollum treats each song he writes with a painstaking level of dedication, reverence, respect and as he will readily admit, even a bit of obsession. His new album “Probably Wrong” follows the Austin-based performer’s ultimate goal is to reinvent himself with each record he makes. Tickets are $13-$20.
March 17th (8pm-1am) – St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre will take place at Click’s Live, 1946 ESE Loop 323, Tyler. The St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre features Edge of Misery, No Due Respect, and LowLife. Cover at the door. Doors open at 8pm.
March 22nd (7-10pm) – Zach Winters and Jason Barrows will perform at The Foundry Coffee House, 202 S. Broadway, Downtown Tyler. They will be performing songs from their new albums and changing every city they visit to the city of brotherly love. Early bird tickets are $10. Pre-sale ticket are $12. At the door tickets are $15. Doors at 7pm and music starts at 7:30pm. All ages are welcome. For more info go to zachwinters.com or jasonbarrows.com.
March 24th (8pm) – Bibeau Record Release Party & Concert – will be held at Click’s Live. Tickets are available at the door with proper ID.
March 25th (8pm) – Texas Sunday Returns with Brandon Rhyder at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission.
April 7th (9pm-1am) – Post Profit with Travis Christian will be at Garage Bar, 418 E. Erwin St., Downtown Tyler. There is a $5 cover.
April 7th (7pm) – Sam Riggs will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are $15-$20 and available at wildtexastickets.com.
April 8th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Jason Boland & The Stragglers will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $20 for general admission.
April 12th (8pm) Wesley Pruitt will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door.
April 12th (7pm) – The Legendary Johnny Rodriguez in Concert – Texas Country Music Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodriguez, has had fifteen top-ten singles and 6 number-one hits since 1973. Some of Johnny’s classic hits include: “Pass Me By,” “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me),” “Riding My Thumb To Mexico,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “Just Get Up and Close The Door.” For tickets call (866)710-8942. Tickets start at $35.
April 15th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Chris Knight will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $20 for general admission.
April 21st (8pm) – Mouse & The Traps – After more than 50 years together, Mouse & the Traps continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll.” Formed in Tyler, Texas in 1965, Mouse, Nardo, Dave & Larry continue to give the public just what they want – great rock and roll. Whether you remember “Public Execution,” “Hit the Bricks,” or not, Mouse & The Traps has something for everyone. Tickets are $20-$25.
April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advanced online for $15 at etix.com.
The Blacksmiths: Still Like That Old Time Rock & Roll
By Johnny Griffith
Bob Seger has a well known hit from the early 80’s called “Old Time Rock And Roll.” This song laments the lack of soul in the contemporary music of that time period and declares his intent to keep playing classic rock as a solution. I’ve never gotten the chance to meet Mr. Seger, but the closest thing we have here in East Texas is Chris Austin of the local classic rock band, The Blacksmiths. A native of Chapel Hill, Chris played drums on the drumline at Chapel Hill High School and went on to graduate from the Dallas Sound Lab with a degree in Audio Engineering and Sound Techniques. Blessed with parents that loved music and supported him in his endeavors early and often, Austin developed a love for classic rock through the sounds he heard coming from his parents’ collections and eventually started a band and is still playing to this day.
We managed to get a word in with Chris recently to find out more about The Blacksmiths
Johnny: What is the current lineup of the band? Any changes over the lifespan of the band?
Chris: The current lineup consists of myself on lead guitar and vocals, Joshua Stewart on drums, Angelo Lopez on bass/rhythm guitar/vocals, and Ben Carter on bass and vocals. Angelo and Ben have both been filling the shoes of bass player when available, but recently we decided to shake it up a bit and go with a 4 piece instead of 3 with Angelo on guitar as well…as our busy schedules finally allowed. The lineup has changed immensely over the years. I haphazardly started this project about 6 years ago with a couple of friends just messing around in my kitchen,,,which was the only place we had to set up all the equipment at the time…typical broke musicians haha. We eventually gained a keyboard and rhythm player and were a 5 piece band by the time we started playing shows. We decided to go back to a 3 piece after about a year for convenience and scheduling issues. Our drummer at the time had to move for work but introduced me to Joshua before doing so. Joshua had played with Angelo before with “Something Blue” and I met Ben after watching him play for “King Richard and the Bayou Boys” …and as they say, the rest was history.
Johnny: Who were some of your early musical influences?
Chris: My parents were very into music and had a plethora of vinyl records to dig through. I was turned on to The Doors, The Who, The Allman Bros, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, CCR, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, David Bowie…but most importantly Led Zeppelin. When I was 12 I received a cheap electric guitar and Led Zeppelin IV on cassette tape for Christmas and that changed everything..
Johnny: At what point was the decision made to be a primarily classic rock band? Have to say you guys are a bit younger than most of the other ones in the area.
Chris: That’s really the stuff I always enjoyed playing the most and felt most comfortable with, because those tunes were ingrained in me from a young age. When we first started, we tried a lot of 90’s stuff and some 80’s Metallica and Misfits which we were pretty decent at but learned pretty quickly what we had more fun with. Even though we’re a bit younger, I feel we were all entranced by that era of music growing up. We were very lucky to have Miss Robin Griffith from XLN on 5th street give us the chance to really explore our potential. We played every Sunday there for quite a while as the house band which gave us a lot of quick feedback from the crowd…and from the venue owner haha.
Johnny: Is there any specific period of classic rock you guys gravitate towards over others?
Chris: Not really, I’ve just personally loved the 70’s era most, but we cover the 60’s and 80’s as well. We do seem to cover a lot of Creedence Clearwater and The Doors though, if that says anything.
Johnny: Where did the band name come from?
Chris: The guys from the original lineup and I were hanging out after practice having a beer or two and trying to come up with something, After a length of time and much pondering, we looked around the room and noticed the main theme of what we were looking at…which was old, broken down, second hand, very junky equipment that I had been hoarding and frankensteining together with duct tape and zip ties for years. I’m really not sure how we didn’t shock or hurt ourselves but I remember us saying…”well, we sure know how to make something out of nothing…like a dang ole’ blacksmith” (speaking of the ramshackle but playable equipment). And just like that, it stuck.
Johnny: do you guys do any originals at this point or is it primarily covers?
Chris: I’ve had a couple of blues tunes in the works for a while but we’ve honestly been so busy playing shows and working full time day jobs or careers it’s been tough to find time, but I think this is our year to shine.
Johnny: You’ve been playing music in this area for a while now, do you have a favorite memory so far?
Chris: I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences along the way getting to play with some amazing musicians. I was the guitar player in a band with Jonathan Scott from Resident Hero for a while and grew up with the singer Ryan White. I also toured a bit as guitar player for Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue out of Austin. I’d have to say though, my favorite memory thus far is a recent one. Joshua and I were both taught drums by Nardo and I learned guitar from Larry Stanley. We had the opportunity to open for Mouse and the Traps for the New Years Eve party at Love and War in Lindale and man was it an experience! We got to open for the guys who taught us everything in a packed room. Too cool
Johnny: Where can people get their Blacksmiths fix over the next couple of months?
Chris: Our next scheduled gig is March 31st at Club 155 on Frankston highway…at least for the public. We do a lot of private parties, bike rallies, and events as well. But always keep an eye out for us at XLN on 5th street…that’s our main stomping ground
Johnny: What do The Blacksmiths have on the radar through the rest of the year?
Chris: We have a lot of new stuff planned for this year. A whole new set of songs, some killer merchandise and a new demo ep. Also, I’m told that you might see us opening for Mouse and the Traps again in the near future…so keep your eyes peeled
Johnny: What can a new listener expect to see at a Blacksmiths show?
Chris: A good ole’ Rock show with lots of classic favorite tunes played by guys that do the best they can to respect and represent the music for what it is….life and love
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance
March 24th – Tyler Azalea 10k, 5k, and Kids Run plus MORE!
Theatre Guide: March 15-18th, “The Lucky O’Learys” on Stage
The Apple Didn’t Fall Far From The Tree
DATE CHANGES!! April 2nd: Glass Rec. Center, Summer Camp Registration Open
The Skinny on Cooking at Home: The Cookbook Junkie
March 29th: Hop to the 17th Annual Twilight Easter Egg Hunt
2018 Azalea & Spring Flower Trails March 16th-April 1st
March 30th: Deana Carter in Concert at Liberty Hall
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