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Panik Device: Keep Calm & Rock Your Face Off


By Johnny Griffith

Rock music thrives in East Texas. Seriously. I know there is probably a tendency to think that country music, and I mean real country music, not that pop/country hybrid thing, dominates the landscape in this area, but any given night you can hear some of the best rock bands in the state turning their amps up to eleven on stages all over the region. One of those bands is Tyler’s own Panik Device, and they’re planning on making sure you don’t forget it.

A winning combination of talented musicians from several different projects over the years, Panik Device is comprised of Richard Lackey on drums, Tommy Deloach on bass, Tim Taylor on lead guitar, Dustin Smith on rhythm guitars and vocals, and Jack Fowler on lead vocals. Each of the members brings a unique perspective and experience to the band that adds up to a sum greater than the parts, and those parts have played in venues as famous as Whiskey-A-Go-Go and shared the stage with powerhouse acts such as Drowning Pool, Avatar, Black Stone Cherry, and Trapt to name a few. In the studio now working on their debut album, the guys from Panik Device took time out to tell us a bit more about themselves.

Johnny: Tell us a little bit about how you guys ended up in a band together.

PD: Richard and Dusty started a different band together that went through several incarnations and name changes over several years that eventually became Panik Device. Richard and Tommy have been friends for around 25 years, and they have played in various bands together. PD was looking for a bass player so it fell into place. Most of us are from East Texas except for Tim who came to Texas from Arkansas. Before he joined PD, he had been playing in another band but had left it and was looking for a new one. He found our ad on Craigslist, and we were familiar with him from the previous band, so he came by and tried out. Last to line up was new addition Jack Fowler. PD went from being a three-piece band with Dustin singing and Richard harmonizing to the five-man band it is today. Jack was a drummer when we heard him do an amazing song from the drum kit one night. Months later we spoke with him. He was looking to try something new in the music community after he left his previous band. We told him we were looking for a singer because Dustin wanted to add a vocalist and not have to sing everything. He came by for practice and has been there ever since.

Johnny: Where did the name come from?

PD: The name came from a door exit device. Several of us work as glaziers (a skilled tradesman responsible for cutting, installing, and removing glass), and it just came out one day.

Johnny: How would you describe your music?

PD: Melodic hard rock written about things like love, partying, and bad relationships.

Johnny: What are your biggest influences musically?

PD: Kiss, Metallica, Deftones, Seether, Old Country.

Johnny: Currently about how many shows a month on average are you guys playing?

PD: We average about three shows a month, with some of those being benefit shows.

Johnny: What was the first show you guys played as a band, and what has been the most memorable one so far?

PD: Well we’ve been through a progression as we added members over several years. We added Jack recently. Our first show with the full lineup that we have now was earlier this year. The most memorable was Jack’s first show at our home venue, Click’s, in March.

Johnny: How would you describe a Panik Device show to a new fan?

PD: A hard-driving, loud, in-your-face, energetic, and enjoyable show.

Johnny: You guys, collectively and individually, have been able to share the stage with some great acts. What would you say your most “starstruck” moment has been to this point with someone you’ve played alongside?

PD: We don’t really think “starstruck” is the right word. We do see that in some people, but we can’t say we exactly understand it. We’ve met some great, well-known artists, but we feel that some local artists are just as talented. We are all musicians trying to spread our passion. We’d have to say the best show we have ever played the same stage with was Avatar, hands down. They are the coolest guys and very friendly offstage, and when the lights come on and the instruments start, they throw down, and the show is bar none the best we have seen.

Johnny: What has been the biggest challenge so far as a band?

PD: We’d have to say the biggest challenge is just spreading the word about our music, keeping up with the needs of the band as it grows, and keeping the lineup solid with committed musicians.

Johnny: What has been the thing you’re the most proud of as a band?

PD: The fact that we are doing it as a DIY band. We rely on support from friends and family, and that makes them part of the Device. We absolutely could not do it without them.

Johnny: What are your goals for 2017?

PD: We plan on growing the Panik Device brand and bring our sound to as many fans as possible.

Check out one of their upcoming shows:

  • April 14th – Gusher Days in Gladewater, 8pm
  • April 29th – Clicks Live in Tyler, 8pm

For more info about Panik Device go to:



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Around East Texas

Jason Herrin, Shooter Jennings, Dirty River Boys in Concert this Weekend


Upcoming Concerts

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

March 10th (8pm) – Dirty River Boys with Pushwater will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at Tickets are $15 for general admission.

March 16th (8pm) – Parker McCollum will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at 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 or

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 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

April 8th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Jason Boland & The Stragglers will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at 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 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

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The Blacksmiths: Still Like That Old Time Rock & Roll

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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


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