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Pocket Tangerine: Not Just Your Recommended Daily Dose of Fresh Citrus

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vote now etx music awardsBy Johnny Griffith

If you’ve been walking or driving around downtown Tyler on a Tuesday evening lately, chances are you’ve heard some music filling the air. Don’t adjust the volume on your radio, what you’ve been hearing is one of the newer, up and coming bands in Tyler, Pocket Tangerine.

Started in 2014, Pocket Tangerine began as a collaboration between Shiloh McGraw on guitar and Jordan Wilbanks on drums. Using a loop station to fill out the sound a bit, they worked as a duo for several months before putting together a line-up consisting of other local musicians from Tyler Junior College’s Jazz Band ensemble who were looking for a creative outlet and an opportunity to play something out of the ordinary for this area.

We tracked down Shiloh McGraw to get the scoop on just exactly what is going down with the band:

Johnny: First of all, where does the name “Pocket Tangerine” come from?

Shiloh: Before the band got started, Jordan and I would check out different house jam sessions around town in hopes of finding guys to play with. I had recently bought a large bag of clementines and had a few stored in my jacket for a mid-jam snack. When I pulled them out I got a laugh and one of the guys at the jam freestyled a song about getting your daily dose of Pocket Tangerine, and it just stuck.

Johnny: Whose idea was it to start the band?

1922494_827451137271745_228395370_nShiloh: I began recruiting the guys as soon as I joined the TJC jazz band. I guess it was my idea in that sense. I didn’t really think about it at the time, though, it just seemed like the right move to make.

Johnny: Who was the original line-up?

Shiloh: The original group consisted of Billy Trey Groom on keys, Michael Heatley on bass, Forrest Morgan on Tenor Sax, Joseph Schmidt on Alto Sax, Jordan Wilbanks on drums, and  Shiloh McGraw on guitar.

Johnny: What’s the current line-up of the band?

Shiloh: All those same cats with the addition of Montreal Sanders, who we couldn’t be happier to have on board with us. He came in and filled our drummer position while Jordan went to Denton to study at UNT for a year. When Jordan moved back it became an opportunity to expand even further. At full capacity, we now have an aux percussion player. This can add a lot to the rhythmic makeup, especially when dealing with world and Latin styles of music.

Johnny: How would you describe your sound?

Shiloh: Some of our original songs could be described as fusion, funk with flavors of jazz and soul. Everyone in the band brings different stylistic elements to the sound. We cover varying styles of tunes, which helps us develop our diversity. I hope to never have just one or two words to describe the sound.

Johnny: What are your influences musically?

1794731_827450713938454_2001031866_nShiloh: Our first big influence collectively as a band would be Snarky Puppy. We discovered them when the band first got together and have modeled our approach after them. They interact and actively play with many different artists, which is a very cool effort that I respect because it does good things for a music community. As we grow, we are finding our own route but their music definitely inspired us to get going. Other influences include Stevie Wonder, Mark Lettiere, D’Angelo, The Main Squeeze, Roy Hargrove, Charlie Parker, The Beatles, Wes Montgomery, George Duke, and Michael Jackson. This list could go on… That’s my favorite thing; we don’t just work for ourselves in music but also for those who we can inspire. One person’s good performance could be the reason that some kid decides to pick up a guitar, and that kid could go on to be one of the baddest players in the land.

Johnny: I read somewhere that a couple of the band members were accepted into Berklee. What was that process like, and how did that affect PT as a band?

Shiloh: Jordan and I were both accepted into the program but then ran into the problem of funding. Berklee’s program isn’t exactly widely affordable. It was a frustrating experience, as well as motivating. Having something that you think you really want fall just out of reach can definitely drive a person to take steps to ensure that won’t be the case again. I’m glad it went that way, though. I’ve grown so much in my time playing with these guys and have learned much about how to lead. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade it for a Berklee ride.

1456089_827621707254688_1931258794_nJohnny: When and where was your first gig?

Shiloh: Our first performance was at an open mic night out at Lago Del Pino before they shut those events down. It used to be the “place to be” for young local musicians on Wednesdays. I believe Juls has picked that practice up, so I would encourage people to support that. Our first official gig was on the roof at Jake’s on the Square. They had a good view up there!

Johnny: How often do you guys perform publicly?

Shiloh: Currently, we play publicly about three times a month. Between our public shows, we play some private events such as dinners, scholarship luncheons, and weddings.

Johnny: What’s been your favorite memory so far as a band?

Shiloh: Our very first open mic performance at Lago would stand pretty high on the list for me. There was a ton of energy that night with our excitement as a band to do something brand new, as well as with the room’s curiosity to see what was up with this six-man group complete with horns (not often seen in that scene). Another moment that stands very high for the current line-up was our recent show at Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q. They bring in some of the best live music in town from all over, and they have many patrons who come for that reason. The people were great, and the band was on their game that night. It was a good time.

1912414_827450657271793_170454881_nJohnny: What is the biggest challenge, if any, in this area being a band that is a bit different musically than what typically you find here?

Shiloh: Winning the general crowd over with instrumental music is definitely the one big challenge. Everyone can identify with a singer because they perform using language that people understand. Music is its own language that many people just aren’t as familiar with, aside from being nice backing noise behind the singer. Like with many things such as sushi and wine, it seems to be an acquired taste. A good first step that we have taken is adapting many popular tunes to the jazz format. We play the melody and chords to the tune and then improvise from there. We have learned a lot through the challenge and have made many improvements we would not have made otherwise. Therefore, I’m glad for it.

Johnny: Who is your favorite musician/band?

Shiloh: Again, Snarky Puppy would be up there. A lot of the cats in that group have their own solo projects that are all very good too, so it’s hard to get away from that circle. My personal favorite guitarist is Guthrie Govan. The man is a Virtuoso, yet is so reserved and humble. That’s my favorite thing about those who are truly “great.” It takes a humble heart and hard work in my opinion.

Johnny: What are some of the highlights of the upcoming summer for PT?

Shiloh: We are playing at Juls in August, on the 26th and we have another performance scheduled at FRESH. I’m also excited to track some of our original music and hopefully have some full-fledged recordings by the end of the summer. Aside from a few private events, that is all that’s on the calendar as of right now, but more than likely, we will grab a few more dates as the summer continues. Any new dates that we pick up will be posted on the Pocket Tangerine Facebook page.

Johnny: How about the next year, what are the goals for the group?

Shiloh: To expand to new territories! We have always loved the idea of going out to Denton or Dallas to play shows regularly and eventually even across the seas to Europe and beyond.

1911697_827621793921346_46900939_nJohnny: What has been your biggest success so far as a band?

Shiloh: Those times where our original music was better received or generated more energy than the covers. One of the biggest reasons I love music so much is the opportunity to express your unique self fully, and when people find real enjoyment in that, it’s one of the best feelings there is.

Johnny: What do you hope that people hearing you for the first time take away from the show?

Shiloh: I hope people will leave inspired to pave their own way in whatever they do. We aren’t the type/style of band you would usually find around East Texas, but because we love doing this we’ve remained steadfast in working to improve and opportunities have followed. I want people to see that something “different” can work and hopefully people will feel less afraid to break the mold of normal. I also like introducing people to different styles of music and showing them how vast the world of music really is!

Pocket Tangerine On The Web:

Upcoming Shows:

  • August 26th – FRESH in Tyler @ 6pm

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Bands

July 27th: SFO, A Journey Tribute Band at Bergfeld Park

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The City of Tyler will host the annual Bergfeld Summer Showcase at Bergfeld Park, located at 1510 S. College Ave., on Friday, July 27. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. with fun and food trucks and live music beginning at 7 p.m.

This year, SFO – A Journey Tribute, a Nashville native band will take the stage. SFO recreates the experience of a 1980’s concert, playing all the Journey hits that you know and love with a special salute to Kansas and Foreigner. The band is made up of top-notch musicians from Nashville, Florida, and Minnesota who bring the highest level of musicianship to the audience.

Frontman Gabe Jacobs delivers powerful vocals to his audience by closely emulating the vocals and stage presence of legendary Steve Perry.

“This band will transport you back to the 80’s with all the songs you know by heart!” said Adriana Rodriguez, event coordinator.

The local favorite food trucks will be present for quality dining including Say Cheese, Weinerland, Lupita’s, Kona Ice and Pokey O’s.

For more information, contact Adriana Rodriguez at (903) 595-7248 or at ARodriguez@TylerTexas.com.

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Bands

The Haggertys: Hey Hey We’re The Haggertys

By Johnny Griffith

There are times when things just click with someone and you know it from the start. Then, years later you come back across them and it’s almost as if no time has passed. That’s kind of what is like for local Tyler favorites The Haggertys. Having all been members of different bands, some together and some collaborative, over the years, the lineup of “Patrick James” Freden (guitars, vocals), Brad Thurston (bass, backing vocals), and Clint Hiltz (drums/percussion) have been together as The Haggertys since 2013 and have been exciting audiences ever since with their setlists of 90’s standard rock covers as well as reinterpreting some classic songs along the way.

We sat down with the guys recently to get some more history on the band and a better snapshot of the members.

Johnny: How about we start with a brief bio of yourself and your background in music.

Patrick: I was born in Minnesota, moved to Tyler in 1974 and then left in the summer of 1977. I basically grew up in Ocean Springs, Mississippi playing Dungeons & Dragons, riding BMX bikes, and listening to albums over at a friend’s house. My first band was a punk band called Spastic Fury in high school. After that, I did some college in Mobile, Alabama, and eventually came back to Tyler in 1988. I played in bands all through the 90’s and started a solo acoustic project in 2005. I’m a self-employed graphic artist by day building websites, designing logos, etc., and music is my second business. I’m a full-time dad and husband, a professional tinkerer who likes craft beers, Les Pauls, Orange Amps, and hanging out in my favorite music store, Action Sound in Hawkins.

Brad: I’ve been playing music since I was 15 when I purchased my first guitar. It cost me $50 and was in a brown paper bag in pieces. After getting it put together, I started looking around for a band. No one needs a guitar player, so the next year I went and bought a bass, found a band, and the journey began. The start of my high school music career included rock bands like Conspiracy, Guardian, and Blue Steel. After high school, I branched out and did a did brief stint in a country band.

The call of the Hair Bands drew me to California, Hollywood to be exact. I moved in with a friend from high school, joined a band, and played the Troubadour on Santa Monica Blvd. within the first 3 weeks of being in California. I played in other bands there, like Hammer Lane. I did shows at The Roxy Theater and The Whisky A Go-Go. After wrapping up my California time, I moved back to Tyler, found an alternative band, Center Mass, which was later known as “Did Lee Squat?” (DLS?). That’s where I met “Patrick James.” We played venues in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and even Shreveport, Louisiana.

This too ended and I started my family, got a job, and put the band on the back burner. After some time, I started playing with Livid, a cover band around the Tyler/Longview area. This project just kinda wound down and I took a job out of town. More time passed with both family and job changes. I started playing bass in a praise band for Pollard United Methodist Church and did that for a few years until one day Patrick called. No, it was not the “I’m getting the band back together” kinda call. He wanted to redo his current project. I think he said he wanted to play more electric guitar and just rock out…so here we are.

Clint: I’m the baby of the band, born in Austin in 1974. I lived in Alvin, Texas through my 5th-grade year and moved to East Texas in 1986 where I joined the Union Grove percussion section in junior high and continued throughout high school. I played in the band and every sport Union Grove offered. As I got into high school, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to play football then at halftime, I’d take off my shoulder pads and march in the marching band. In 1992, I moved to Tyler and was offered a scholarship to join the Tyler Junior College drumline, better known as the Apache Punch. My hobbies are hunting, fishing, shooting guns, and working out. Currently, I work at Suddenlink as a Commercial Sales Supervisor.

Johnny: Who would you say was personally responsible, individually, for instilling that love of music you’d take the rest of your lives?

Pat: My mom for sure. She was the one that got me going as a kid…from playing Johnny Cash records to buying me a guitar and taking me to lessons.

Brad: My mom, she had me taking piano at the age of six, and we loved Elvis.

Clint: Hands down, my father. He played drums as well and he got me started gigging at the early age of 13 when I would sit in for him and play Wipeout.

Johnny: When did you three first meet?

The Haggertys: During the 90’s, Pat and Brad were playing in a band called DLS? and Clint was in a band called Affinity. The two bands did several shows together, including one at the Oil Palace in Tyler with DLS? as the headliner and Affinity providing support…the friendship and collaboration grew from there.

Johnny: How did the idea of starting the Haggertys come together?

The Haggertys: Sometime in the summer of 2013, Pat was doing his solo acoustic thing and had done some earlier shows with Clint and Brad as the Patrick James Band but these were still “acoustic” shows. After playing these kinds of shows for so long, Pat just got the itch to play with electrics and amps again, and Clint was on board to “get loud.” A permanent bass player was recruited and the band was formed. Really the Haggertys morphed out of the Patrick James Band and the guys started rehearsing so the song list grew. The band covers lots of material but kinda focuses on 90’s rock. The old “If it’s a good song, it’s a good song….doesn’t matter what genre it’s from” always applies.

Johnny: Okay, so the name. Where did it come from and whose idea was it?

The Haggertys: During one of the early rehearsals the idea of a band name came up and of course lots of stuff was thrown around. Pat noticed that all the band members had some righteous beards going at the time and this got him to thinking about people with beards and the one person that came to mind was a childhood hero from the show Grizzly Adams. Pat said, “the best beard ever, in my opinion, hands down, was Dan Haggerty, let’s call the band that!” So originally he wanted the band to be called the Dan Haggertys which morphed into the Damn Haggertys which quickly changed, for obvious reasons, and the band settled in with The Haggertys.

Johnny: When and where was the first Haggertys show?

The Haggertys: The first show was March 22nd, 2014, at Shoguns (#2) under their black tent outside. It was an alright turnout, and the band had fun. We later learned that many people were turned away or had to wait to get outside under the tent because of limited seating and fire codes.

Johnny: How would you describe your sound to a new listener?

The Haggertys: Straight-up, no-frills, fun-having, 3-piece rock cover band with a few surprises.

Johnny: You guys move in and out of different genres and decades of music pretty easily. Would you say there is one you’re more comfortable with than the others?

The Haggertys: Being a 3-piece with everyone doing something, we kinda gravitate towards 90’s rock songs we can easily play and cover well. More complicated songs with multi instruments tend to be harder (or impossible) to pull off with just three instruments, so we shy away from them. However, the art of taking a song and “making it your own” remake/cover is what we strive to do. Really any song we can cover well and make our own stays on the set list.

Johnny: Are you primarily covers or are you throwing some original stuff in the mix?

The Haggertys: We all played in what we called “Showcase Bands” back in the 90’s…all original songs and we all made albums, struggled to get gigs that paid, rehearsed a lot, tried to get signed, etc. Today we just play covers, play a lot, rehearse way less often, don’t care about getting signed, and get paid to play, which is nice. We won’t rule out that one day we might start writing songs again, but it isn’t on anyone’s radar anytime soon. We have done some reunion shows by combining Did Lee Squat? and Sand Dollar band members into a group called Did Lee Dollar. This allowed us to reconnect with old bandmates and fans and play some of the old originals. Come to think of it, it’s probably time for another one of those shows.

Check out The Haggertys online at:

www.facebook.com/thehaggertys

www.instagram.com/thehaggertys

www.thehaggertysband.com

 

Shows:

  • Thursday, July 12th – Razzoo’s, Tyler, 7-10pm
  • Friday, September 14th – Gregg County Fair on Dennis Hiltz Memorial Stage, Longview
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Bands

Southern Charm: Small Town Girls With Big Time Sound

By Johnny Griffith

So there’s an old saying that has something to do with ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ and that certainly holds true with the two talented, dynamic artists in the East Texas duo Southern Charm. Both hailing from small East Texas towns, Shelby Ballenger and Billie Jo Sewell have been making a name for themselves both as successful solo artists and the fast rising duet, Southern Charm. Both artists have honed their crafts on many local stages and along the way found they had a knack for harmony and similar musical interests. Borne of a shared passion and great timing, Southern Charm takes advantage of each artist’s unique vocal ability and is greater than the sum of its parts…which is saying something because Shelby and Billie Jo both have burgeoning solo careers in their own right. So much so that Southern Charm as a duet has to book six months in advance and then they have a seven show run in seven east Texas venues.

We caught up with them in the middle of this latest run to get some more background on these ladies and their “Southern Charm.”

Johnny: When did you two first take up an interest in music?

Shelby: From the age of 13 I began singing at The Wylie Opry. From there, I was self-taught to play the guitar. I eventually began going to open mic nights all around north Texas to make a name for myself. About 2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my day job and pursue music full time. I haven’t looked back.

Billie Jo: I started singing when I was 4 years old and grew up singing in church. I went from singing at church to Opry’s, restaurants, and festivals, to opening for people such as Ray Price, Gene Watson, Justin Moore, Mike Ryan, and Stoney LaRue. I had the honor to be on “The Voice” where I made top 150 on season 6 and recently I made top 100 on “American Idol.” I just recently signed to TXM Records and am currently in the studio working on my first country single!

Johnny: Who were some of your early influences?

Shelby: I always looked up to dominant female singers growing up. My lead inspirations were Shania Twain, Lee Ann Rimes, and The Dixie Chicks. When I began songwriting, I leaned on lyrics by Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and local artists such as Meredith Crawford and Matt Grisby for inspiration.

Billie Jo: I was raised by my grandparents so I was inspired by the oldies but goodies, as I like to call them, such as George Jones, Ray Price, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and many others.

Johnny: When did you decide music was more than just another hobby and was something worth pursuing?

Shelby: Once I began taking the stage with my guitar, people began talking about the talent and potential I had. I tried to make an impression at every new venue and began to see the joy it brought to people listening. I began entering songwriting competitions once my repertoire grew and placed with within the top four each time out of hundreds of hopefuls.

Billie Jo: I knew at a very early age that God didn’t give me this voice to just sing at home. I just knew that He gave me this voice to share with the world and that one day this would be my full time career which, gratefully, I’m very close to being able to say. I’ve always wanted to use my gift that God gave me in hopes that the audience may come to know Him through my music and testimony.

Johnny: How did you two first meet and when did the idea of a duo project come up?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We met at an East Texas singing competition a little over four years ago. From there, we became instant best friends.

Johnny: When and where was your first show as Southern Charm?

Shelby & Billie Jo: Our first official show was at The Foxhole where we won a karaoke competition. We took home $2,500 which made it our first paid gig together. From there Southern Charm played The Forge in Ben Wheeler and then our solo careers started taking off. We now book six months in advance for the Southern Charm East Texas Tour.

Johnny: How about the name? Where did that idea come from?

Shelby: Billie Jo’s son Chandler won most handsome baby boy at the Emory Rains pageant in 2014. I saw Billie Jo make a post on Facebook needing a car to ride in the parade with. I offered her convertible slug bug for the event. While we were in the car, we started trying out songs to sing together. I mentioned that I’d always wanted to put a duo together and name the act Southern Charm. Billie Jo loved the idea so we ran with it!

Johnny: How would you describe your sound?

Shelby: Southern Charm’s sound has a pure tone and the harmonies blend extremely well. I [Shelby] have more of the bluesy tone and Billie Jo brings the powerhouse country twang. Together, our voices mesh to create a unique country sound.

Johnny: What do you feel you bring to the table individually that compliments your partner on stage?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We know the dynamics of music. We never try to overpower each other onstage and that’s something every duo needs in order to be successful.

Johnny: About how many originals do you try to work in during a show?

Shelby & Billie Jo: We try to work in all of our most favorite originals at each and every show. Usually there’s about four to five each.

Johnny: You’ve had a busy summer already, what’s coming up on the radar the rest of the year that you’re excited about?

Shelby: I’m currently working on my full album with Joe Austin as producer. I’ve written 12 brand new songs and my new single “Heartbreaks & Hangovers” will be released late July while the album will drop next summer.

Billie Jo: I have a big secret I’ll be able to announce in a couple months about where I will be on the National Stage. Currently I’m in the studio with Chad Mauldin and Mauldin Productions working on my new single that will be released in early August.

Johnny: What can a first timer expect at a Southern Charm show?

Shelby & Billie Joe: Harmonies that give goosebumps and two best friends shining, as they do what they love onstage.

Keep up with Southern Charm online at facebook.com/southerncharmmusic.

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