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The Leftovers: Just As Good The Second Time Around


By Johnny Griffith

A lot of times the word “leftovers” can have a negative feel to it. Sure, leftover pizza is almost better than fresh when you eat it cold for breakfast the next day, but if you’re one of the leftovers after the kids at school finish picking their sports teams, then you aren’t feeling very good about the word. Local musicians Mike Hill, Stacy Shew, and Paul Shafer (no, not Paul Shaffer of David Letterman fame) are proving that leftovers are nothing to turn your nose up at, and to drive the point home, that’s the name of their band: “The Leftovers.”

Based out of Tyler, Hill (drums), Shew (bass), and Shafer (guitar/vocals) have all spent time in previous projects and in some cases, are still actively involved in other local acts but have more than enough chemistry to go around as The Leftovers have found something unique in their own right and are starting to wow audiences around the area several times a month. With each member bringing their unique perspective to the band, the musical combinations coming off the stage often result in different takes on classics and covers not being done by other bands in the area.

I reached out to Paul Shafer to get some more information for music lovers out there:

Johnny: Where are the band members from originally?

Paul: Mike grew up in Kilgore, Stacy grew up in Athens, and I was born in Houston but grew up most of my teen years in the Texarkana area. So we are pretty much native East Texas boys.

Johnny: What is the musical background of the band members?

Paul: Mike and Stacy have been a part of the music scene in East Texas for a while. Mike has been playing drums since he was six, and Stacy had his first gig at age 15. Those guys have played in really great bands and have traveled pretty much to every town around East Texas that had or has live music. I have been playing music for more than 20 years writing and covering music all during that time while playing live.

Johnny: So I’m assuming “The Leftovers” is a reference to you guys all being members of other bands at some point, how did you all meet?

Paul: We became friends from the music scene in Tyler really. We hit it off and really enjoyed seeing each other before we started playing together. We were busy doing our own projects at the time, and we joked about starting a band together. Mike came up with the name “The Leftovers” for that reason you mentioned, and it stuck after our first gig together.

Johnny: I’ve heard some tracks, and it seems to be pretty eclectic. Do you have a style you focus on, and are there any originals in the mix?

Paul: We don’t play any of my originals in The Leftovers. When we started getting serious about playing together, we knew that we just wanted to be a fun cover band that plays songs people recognize, but not always pick the obvious ones. We wanted to make the songs our own with our individual styles. We all enjoy different kinds of music, and it just gels so incredibly well to what our sound has become. Mike is such a solid drummer with great fills and tempo; Stacy is a monster of a bass player with great creativity, and I’ve loved picking up my electric guitars with some reverb and 80’s sounds to create something that is completely opposite from my acoustic guitar sound when I play solo.


Johnny: How has the response been to “The Leftovers” so far?

Paul: Really good! We usually make new friends at every gig and try to be as relational as we can before and after the set we are booked for. People are always kind to us after our set mentioning our sound or song choices, but the best compliment that I receive with this band is that people always say it looks like we are having so much fun on stage. In return, they have fun!

Johnny: How many shows are you currently doing a month on average?

Paul: We play on an average to 4-8 shows a month together.

Johnny: Are you primarily playing out of the Tyler area or have you done gigs out of the immediate area?

Paul: Tyler/Longview/Nacogdoches mostly, but we are in talks with several other venues a little farther out.

Johnny: With so many gig opportunities, do you guys have any side hobbies?

Paul: It’s pretty crazy because music is such an important part to all of our lives, it’s pretty much our main hobby even though we consider it more than that. Mike and Stacy both have families and have played with some amazing bands over the years, so it truly is an honor for me to share the stage with them when we get to. Mike does really great graphic design work, DJ’s for weddings/parties/etc, and also currently plays with the amazing Kid Icarus Project. Stacy works for Kyser Capos and plays with a very talented local artist, Lauren Alexander. I continue to play solo a lot around town and occasionally have some musician friends of mine to back me up at certain gigs.

Johnny: What have been some, if any, of the challenges in maintaining “The Leftovers” with your other commitments?

Paul: Well the calendar is the biggest struggle! We love playing together so much, however, we are full supporters of each other’s schedules and working around them.

Johnny: Do your bandmates from other projects ever moonlight with you guys?

Paul: We would love to see that happen! We’ve had some pretty cool experiences at certain gigs with people that we currently play with in other projects, have played with, or other local musicians/singers joining us on stage for a song.

Johnny: What’s been the coolest memory from the stage with this band?

Paul: The chemistry! Personally, I remember the first gig we played booked as The Leftovers. After the first song, I looked at Stacy and Mike with a big smile on my face saying “THIS IS AWESOME!” What I love about this band is that I keep doing that somewhere during the set every gig we play together.

Johnny:What’s coming up the rest of the year for The Leftovers

Paul: More shows. More venues. More friends. More fun!

Be sure to like The Leftovers on Facebook for news and upcoming events:



October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

October 13th, Award-Winning Band MercyMe in Concert

MercyMe will be in concert at The Oil Palace is October and is guaranteed to sell-out!

Since their debut in 2001, Grammy®-nominated, multiple American Music Award and Dove Award winners, MercyMe has sold more than 8.5 million units in CD, single and DVD sales, garnered 27 No. 1 multi-format Christian radio singles and four consecutive mainstream radio hits with ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ (No. 4 AC/Top 25 on Top 40/Hot AC), ‘Here With Me’ (No. 4 AC), ‘Homesick’ (Top 10 AC), and ‘So Long Self.’

Their radio success has continued with recent singles ‘Flawless’ (No. 1 for 15 weeks) and ‘Greater’ (No. 1 for 16 weeks)​, landing them the Top Christian Airplay Artist spot on Billboard’s 2015 Year End charts.

MercyMe made history in 2014 as ‘I Can Only Imagine’ surpassed 2 million digital downloads, making it the first song in Christian music to go platinum and double-platinum in the digital domain. In 2009, Billboard named MercyMe’s ‘Word Of God Speak’ the No. 1 Song of The Decade and the group the No. 1 Artist of the Decade in both the Christian Songs and Christian AC Songs categories, recognizing them as one of the industry’s most notable talents.

They have sold out venues throughout the US and Canada, including Radio City Music Hall, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox New Channel’s Fox & Friends, CNN, ABC News, and in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, USA Today and more.

Their most recent project “MercyMe, It’s Christmas!” debuted atop the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and became an instant classic. Their eighth studio release, “Welcome To The New,” garnered Billboard Music Award nominations in all three Christian categories and two Grammy® nods; the album is available in stores now.

Tickets start at $19 and are available at The Oil Palace is located at 10408 State Highway 64 East, Tyler, (903)566-2122.

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Blacktop Mojo: Burning Up The Roads To Success

By Johnny Griffith

About a year and a half ago I sat down to interview Blacktop Mojo, a Jacksonville based hard rock band riding a wave of momentum after several successful years together and an upcoming album release. The end of that interview finished with this:

“Blacktop Mojo can still be heard around East Texas on a regular basis, but I would definitely suggest checking out their website for more information and a sample of their music if you haven’t heard them. If it’s in your wheelhouse, get out and support a great local band that won’t be local for much longer at the rate their Mojo is working.”

As it turns out, I was a little more prescient that I anticipated as Blacktop Mojo’s stock has only risen in the ensuing months. With a successful album release, ever increasingly distant tour stops, and mounting accolades from industry critics and magazines, local BTM shows are becoming harder to come by.

In case you might not have heard of Blacktop Mojo, their sound can be described as “modern rock that got dragged through a puddle of southern rock and then dipped in a little bit of grunge”. The band was originally formed in 2012 and the current lineup includes Matt James on vocals, Nathan Gillis on drums, Chuck Wepfer on rhythm guitar, Ryan Keifer on lead guitar, and Matt Curtis on bass.  

With a huge sound and chest shaking vocals, Blacktop Mojo brings a high energy rock show that leaves fans wanting more everywhere they go. While in the midst of rehearsals last month for their most recent tour that kicked off in San Antonio on April 20th, we caught up with them to see what had been going on for the past year and a half and what was on the radar for the rest of the year.

Johnny: So it’s been about a year and a half since our last interview with you guys and the last time we talked there was an album in the works. When did “Burn The Ships” release and how was the process different from the first time around when you recorded “I am”?

BTM: “Burn The Ships” released in March of 2017. The biggest difference between this record and our first record, “I Am”, was the amount of time we took for pre-production. On “I Am”, we spent about two weeks getting ready and arranging the songs before we went in to record it, where on “Burn The Ships”, we spent about eight months demoing and playing around with different ideas.

Johnny: How has the reception been to the album so far and do you guys have your own personal favorite song from it?

BTM: The reception to the album has been incredible this far. We’ve had countless positive reviews and feedback from publications all over the world. Also, our first single off of the album entitled “Where The Wind Blows” reached number 27 on the Billboard Active Rock chart last summer.

Johnny: You guys got to open for Bon Jovi last year in a sold-out stadium. Tell us about that about how you guys got that honor and a little about the experience?

BTM: We actually won that honor in a contest the band was putting on. We submitted some of our original music and were picked by Live Nation and the band’s management to open up the show. The experience was beyond amazing and the crowd was very receptive to us. We cannot thank the Bon Jovi camp enough for the opportunity and for treating us so incredibly.

Johnny: Obviously that put you in front of a lot of potential new fans but what would you say the biggest takeaway from that event was?

BTM: Our biggest takeaway from that night was that whether you’re playing in front of 20 or 20,000 people, you should treat it the same way. Make everyone feel like you’re playing in a stadium even if it’s an empty room.

Johnny: Blacktop Mojo has been trending steadily upward the past couple of years with several accolades from industry publications, over 40 thousand likes on Facebook, a new album, and you guys seem to play everywhere and anywhere. What kind of effect has the increased exposure and success had on the daily routine and what kind of new challenges have came along?

BTM: Our daily routine hasn’t changed much when we’re home. We still write and rehearse on a regular basis and go about business as usual. The increased exposure has made touring opportunities more readily available for us and has increased the number of people we can reach with our music, which is super exciting for us.

Johnny: You have a pretty extensive tour coming up that you’ll already be on the road for when this goes to print. Is this the biggest tour BTM has embarked on and what goes into planning a 2-month long road trip that covers, as best I could count, 32 states, both sides of the country, Canada, and 43 shows?

BTM: This is our most extensive tour to date. A lot of planning, routing, and generally putting the puzzle pieces together has gone on over the past few months by us and our team to make this happen. We couldn’t be more excited to get back out on the road and see our friends across the country.

Johnny: I’d say it would be time for a break after that sort of trip, but you guys are right back at it, playing Rock Fest 2018 up in Wisconsin with some huge names, do you guys ever have to step back, take a breath, and say to yourself “this is our reality”?

BTM: We are very blessed to be able to wake up and do what we love every single day. They say “you never work a day in your life if you do what you love”, so I don’t think we’ve ever really thought about taking a break.

Johnny: Were you able to see yourself at this point back when you played your first show at the Neches Fall Festival or the first “official” show as BTM at the Shelton Gin back in 2012?

BTM: It would have been hard to imagine getting to do what we do now back then. We’ve always just been happy to be able to play music for people.

Johnny: With what’s on your plate for the first half of this year, I almost hate to ask, but what’s on the radar for the second half of 2018 that you can share with us?

BTM: We have plans to keep touring throughout the rest of the year and are currently writing music for our third record.

Johnny: What has been the best memory from the ride so far?

BTM: It’s hard to pick just one from all of it. One of my favorites so far was riding back into town off of our first tour last Summer/Fall. We’d been out on the road for over 60 days straight with 7 of us basically living out of our van. We were tired, beat up, and hungry, but everyone was smiling and joking with each other. It really felt like we had accomplished something.

For more information on Blacktop Mojo and when they’ll be back at a location near you, check them out on the web:


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