By Johnny Griffith
Life takes us on strange journeys at times. Twists and turns make life not only interesting but can serve as character building exercises that define who we are. Local musical phenom Daniel Rocha has been on one of those crazy journey’s that has taken him from East Texas to music venues all over the country and back again as his path continues to unfold.
Originally from Whitehouse, Texas, Rocha was a product of Whitehouse ISD and Grace Community school. Exposed to R&B at an early age, Daniel spent his formative years obsessing over guitar licks and perfecting the instrument. Taking a left turn, he decided to pursue a sports career briefly before realizing his true self was found in the secret chords of the melodies he had floating around in his head. Rocha decided to pursue a music degree at Greenville College in Illinois, majoring in Jazz while honing his craft in performance, production, and writing.
After graduation, Daniel returned to Texas and took up the role of ‘guitar for hire’ until the desire to be the master of his own destiny became too strong, and he struck out on his own. A couple of albums and countless live performances later, Rocha takes his blend of blues, jazz, soul, funk, and pop to fans of all demographics as much as he can. We managed to slow him down just long enough to give us a better idea of what he’s got going on:
Johnny: What got you started in music?
Daniel: My mother used to sing at churches, and so I was always exposed to music growing up, sitting under the record player listening to everything from Ronnie Milsap to Hendrix to Bob Dylan. I was staying up late listening to Austin City Limits, I dug that.
Johnny: Who were your early influences musically?
Daniel: I loved Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Elvis, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Springsteen, Segovia, Django, Marvin Gaye, Prince; anyone doing anything well, I loved.
Johnny: When was the moment you felt that you could do this as more than just a hobby?
Daniel: I saw guys playing guitar that I knew and said to myself, “You know it doesn’t look all that hard, I could do that.” So I did. The singing and the music theory was harder to digest because I took it up so late. It’s like a language. You should start kids early with basic music theory exposure; it’s much easier to expound on it later after that.
Johnny: You have an extensive background in jazz in college and an eclectic musical resume along the way. How has this shaped you for a solo career in music?
Daniel: Yeah I’ve done a lot of things up to this point: led bands, produced hip-hop, been a country sideman lead player, played in party bands, done the blues thing; other than metal I’ve run the gambit. I think being able to play and sing really anything is a blessing as well as a curse. I’ve seen guys that know a handful of chords and a couple vocal runs go far because they keep writing the same song and playing the same thing. They’re easy to pigeon hole, so they’re met with success often times. Jazz, theory, and technique are great for writing and playing, but it’s harnessing it that can be a struggle. I think wanting to do something well and refine it is tough. Sometimes the greatest things get thrown in the trash because it didn’t meet expectations of the artist or they got bored with it. Sometimes it’s the simplified version that’s so readily palatable.
Johnny: Your music seems to be an amalgam of several different genres, each shining through as the mood or song dictates. How would you describe your original music?
Daniel: Singer Songwriter. I write about what’s going on in the world or how I’m feeling or about a movie I saw. When inspired, I can churn out a song in a matter of minutes and generally that’s the best way because if I pick at it too long I generally chuck it. I honestly hate recording music; it seems like such a process to me. I prefer live performing because it’s real and creating in the moment. Most music these days is so DJ formulaic and fit for public consumption that I’m guessing the lyrics, changes, and breaks 30 seconds in. Almost every hit song these days I can trace directly to another song or pieces of a couple popular songs both the music and lyrics have been plagiarized from. This is done intentionally because it’s easy to sell something to folks that’s already part of their subconscious.
Johnny: What have been some of the biggest personal challenges in pursuing this as a career?
Daniel: Just keeping on. Most folks unacquainted don’t see it as a real career. They come by that honestly because we’re browbeaten by society to fit the mold and chase the dollar so much so that sometimes the arts take a back seat to other conventional careers. Artsy dreamers don’t help the matter much because they’re generally lazy or can’t get out of they’re own way long enough to accomplish much. I do really well; I don’t struggle, but I should push harder towards being a national touring artist versus just putting in my day’s work.
Johnny: What have been a couple of your most memorable successes?
Daniel: I played solo for 25,000 people at the Gaylord last year and entertained them successfully for a full hour-and-a-half show. That’s incredibly hard to do by yourself with just a guitar. I’ve gotten calls to play lead on tours for lots of artists, just never one that interested me enough to do it for any prolonged period of time. I’d have to say even with all that, my daughter has been one of my greatest achievements up to this point.
Johnny: Are you typically a one-man show or do you collaborate with other musicians during live sets?
Daniel: I’m typically a one man show, though sometimes I’ll book some stuff as a band.
Johnny: How many originals do you have? Do you have a favorite cover song you like to include in your sets?
Daniel: I literally have hundreds of originals I’ve written over the years. When it comes to cover songs, it would have to be “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins or “Purple Rain” by Prince. I have always just dug those tunes.
Johnny: If you could share the stage with any living artist, who would it be?
Daniel: Well, since Prince is gone, it would have to be Stevie Wonder.
Johnny: What kind of experience do you want people seeing your set live for the first time to go away with?
Daniel: I used to want everyone to be in awe of what I can do and that has its place, but these days I want them to feel good, warm, loved, interested, and nourished in a way that they’ve been lacking. If I can make that connection with people through the groove or through a couple really nice moments sonically that touched them, that’s what I’m most interested in.
For more info about Daniel Rocha find him on Facebook or go to danielrochamusic.com.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
April 21st: Mouse and the Traps and Bowling for Soup
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 advance online for $15 at etix.com.
Blind Pursuit: Chasing Dreams
By Johnny Griffith
In science, there is a phenomenon known as the Butterfly Effect which states, that in a complex system, small changes in one place can have a larger effect elsewhere. This is best illustrated in the hypothetical example of a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico and causing a hurricane in China.
A more practical example of this would be the formation of the band Blind Pursuit, based out of Palestine, Texas. An amalgamation of sound and styles brought to the table by each individual member, Blind Pursuit is the end result of five people from different backgrounds and geographical origins ending up in a small town in East Texas and magic happening.
Hailing from Southeast Louisiana, Maine, Cayuga, and Harmony, the odds of these five people interacting were astronomical, but small changes had large effects and Blind Pursuit has been a staple in the east Texas music scene for three years now. We recently tracked them down to get to know them just a little better.
Johnny: Blind Pursuit has been playing gigs around East Texas since 2015. What was the genesis of the band and what is the current line up?
Blind Pursuit: Our first show was February 28th, 2015 opening for our good friends Blacktop Mojo at Click’s Live in Tyler.
Our current lineup includes Marc Mitchell on drums, Craig Jones on bass guitar, John Reed on lead guitar, Katie Reed with lead vocals, and Michael Jones on lead vocals and acoustic guitar.
Craig and Katie hail from Cayuga, Texas. John was raised right down the road in the Harmony Community just outside of Palestine. Marc migrated from the great state of Maine; and Mike spent most of his time about 45 minutes southwest of New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been in Texas since 1998 and spends his time filling in behind the bar at Pint & Barrel Drafthouse in Palestine, and working construction. He met John and Katie again in 2013. John and Katie own Reed Construction where John builds custom homes and Katie does interior design. Craig owns Oak Floor Supply in Tyler, Texas and Marc is in marketing and communications and sometimes moonlights at the Appleton Coffee House.
Johnny: How about the name – there’s a lot to be said in that name. What does it mean to the band and where did the idea come from?
Blind Pursuit: The name Blind Pursuit stems from the belief that we are all pursuing something, whether it be chasing dreams, running after love, or following your passions; at some point, it takes a blind leap of faith to achieve something truly great. In all actuality, we started with the word ‘Pursuit’ and since we had no idea of how or where we were going or how to get there, ‘Blind’ seemed like the obvious choice.
Johnny: Blind Pursuit has a pretty eclectic mix of sounds in your catalog but how would you describe ‘your’ sound?
Blind Pursuit: Wow! That’s a great question, one that we’ve been asking for quite some time. We play what we love. We are a varied group of musicians with different musical backgrounds and tastes, and we play what we would like to hear if we were sitting in the audience. Our own sound stems from songwriting, which is mainly done by our lead singer Michael, and so it definitely has a soulful, emotional style to it, and has a layered Indie rock feel. You can hear a little bit of our southern influences layered in as well as the obvious differences of having two lead vocalists. So if you wanted to pigeonhole us into a specific genre, I would say we fall into the Indie Rock genre, just because it encompasses such a wide variety of sounds and musical stylings.
Johnny: How much of your show is covers versus originals these days?
Blind Pursuit: After the release of our debut album “Offramp,” we do about ¾ covers and the rest originals. New material is constantly being added and we hope to shift the number of originals to a larger segment of the show.
Johnny: About how many shows does the band try to play a month?
Blind Pursuit: We’re currently averaging five shows a month but we are always looking to add to that.
Johnny: Are most of the gigs in the east Texas area or do you travel out of the area?
Blind Pursuit: The majority of our shows are in East Texas. We do travel to north and central Texas on occasion and we are hoping to broaden our travel radius this year.
Johnny: What are you most proud of as a band?
Blind Pursuit: Our album, without a doubt. We feel like it is such an outpouring of who we are and our evolution over the past couple years. It’s like we have given birth to our own child. So much love, nurturing and hard work has gone into this project. Our resources and time have been singularly focused towards this and we could not be prouder of how it has turned out. We worked with so many great musicians and our Producer, Phillip Moseley was a great asset. They have been invaluable in helping us birth this album.
Johnny: What has been your favorite moment, on stage or off, as a group so far?
Blind Pursuit: I think it has been a thousand small moments of connection with our fans. We’ve heard stories where our songs touched someone going through a divorce, or something we sang really resonated with someone going through a tough time, and you just stop for a second after the mad rush and adrenaline goes away, and you think about how you’re affecting people and the connections you’re making. When we see people singing along with our songs, grabbing their person and dancing, when you see an emotional reaction – that’s the good stuff, the reason we do what we do.
Johnny: What is in the works for the year?
Blind Pursuit: We’ve got another handful of songs and hopefully, that will translate into a new project as well. Whether the next step is an EP or a full-length album is yet to be determined.
Johnny: What’s in the water down in Palestine, between Blind Pursuit, Blacktop Mojo, Kolby Cooper, and others… seems like Palestine has become a serious music town. What’s your take on it?
Blind Pursuit: Every once in awhile, “magic” happens in the most unlikely of places. If you’ve seen the documentary on Muscle Shoals and the music that came out of that small studio in Alabama, then you kind of have insight into the madness behind the magic.
All these acts from Palestine are backed by the most awesome community of people who rally behind us and get the word out, grassroots style. The people here truly love music and they believe in us, or we wouldn’t be able to do what we love. We have a connection, not only through the town we’re from but through our producer and the studio we’ve all recorded at, Audioworx.
Johnny: What experience do you hope first timers will have at a Blind Pursuit show?
Blind Pursuit: Someone recently left a review on our Facebook page that sums it up perfectly: “Bet you will leave their concert feeling like your soul is a little more free than when you walked in.” We hope that everyone will leave feeling a little lighter and a little more connected to their fellow man. In a world where we are bombarded with distractions, we hope people can come and reconnect and feel more human than when they came in. We hope the love and passion that we have for life and music can be felt and translates well to concert goers.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance
April 21st: Lead the Way 5K and more Upcoming Races
Theatre Guide: “Love, Loss & What I Wore” on Stage at Lindale Theatre
The Apple Didn’t Fall Far From The Tree
April 25th-28th: “Hamlet” on Stage at TJC
Duck! Here It Comes!
Art in the Garden April 28th at the Rose Garden
Kane Brown at TJC in Concert April 25th
“Secure Your ID Day” April 21st
Connect With Us!
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