By Johnny Griffith
Childhood is typically a time associated with fun and laughter, and usually great memories when we think back on it. As we grow older, we don’t necessarily have bad times, in fact we still make great memories, but we typically look back on those times in childhood as some of our best memories and wish we could relive those days. Well, there is a duo from East Texas who are doing their best to make this time of their life just as fun as those childhood days. So much so that they’re even calling the band 2nd Childhood.
A pairing up of Tim Letsch on drums and Scott Garrison (Scotty G) on keys, 2nd Childhood serves as a creative conduit for these two friends who were both originally from the Metroplex, but got to East Texas as fast as they could and are finding themselves on more and more stages in the area.
I was able to catch up to them this month to get a little more info on 2nd Childhood.
Johnny: So what do you guys do when you’re not on stage?
Scotty G: Tim is the lead pastor of his own church, Crossroads Community Church of Lindale.
I was a worship leader for over 23 years and just recently retired from that profession.
Johnny: How did you two first meet?
Scotty G: Tim preached (as a guest speaker) one night for the youth group that I was leading worship for at Christ Central Church in Lindale, Texas. I later found out he was an incredible drummer and had him sit in with me a few times when he was available. It was as if we could read each other’s minds musically!
Johnny: How did you each get started in music, and give us a quick summary of your musical experience before 2nd Childhood.
Scotty G: The day I was being born, February 29, 1960, my dad bought a little Les Paul Jr. guitar that looked exactly like a mini version of his Fender Melody Maker guitar. When I was four years old, he sat down and taught me the 4-5 chords that he knew. I fell in love with it! By the time I was 6 years old, I was showing my dad complex riffs that I had been teaching myself. Guitar became a huge part of me. While other kids in my neighborhood were sniffing glue and smoking pot, I was writing puppy-love songs to the girls at my elementary and Jr. high schools. I began playing organ at the age of 9, drums by 12, and was producing my own multitracks by using two cassette tape recorders side by side. I would record the drum track on one machine, then play along with that recording while adding guitar onto the other cassette recorder and repeated this process till all the instruments and vocals were laid down. The quality of the finished product was just awful, but the songs were well received. I started playing piano and singing at Tony Romas House of Ribs in Dallas, Texas in 1979. Every check I got I would spend on a new piece of musical gear. I started out using their piano and after a couple of years I had acquired two more keyboards (playing bass on one of them with my left hand), a four track tape recorder, (for when I wanted to play guitar), and a huge sound system that would easily put me in the hospital today if I tried to move it. However, by 1985, I would be moving that stuff around to NINE gigs every week! I played gigs at six different locations and played seven nights a week and two afternoons.
Tim: Well, I started singing when I was five, and in spite of several attempts by many people to get me to shut up, I am still singing (totally kidding!). I, in all seriousness, started in church at age five singing. I tried instruments when I was younger, but was always too hyper to focus. I concentrated on singing through my high school years. I even quit the football team to join choir. The coach wasn’t too happy with me. I went to a school called Southwestern Assemblies of God University (AKA SAGU) and majored in Vocal Performance. I travelled the country with a college group called the Harvesters. While I was at SAGU, I got inspired to learn the piano. It was a total God thing. I had wasted so many opportunities to learn, and I asked God if He would allow me to have one more shot. To this day, I know He birthed the desire in my heart and gave me focus to learn. So at age 17, I locked myself in a practice room and didn’t come out until I knew I could play a couple of tunes. That led to me leading worship in the dorms for a while. I took a youth pastor job in the summer of my 17th year, and eventually took a Music Director spot at a church when I turned 20. There was one Sunday when a drummer didn’t show up to play (I was about 21 years old), and the team needed a drummer, so I practiced for a while and filled in the best that I could. I got a taste for drumming and never put it down. I picked up a little guitar and bass, and started a contemporary Christian band called Fadestrange. We put out two projects, and then broke up, mainly due to people moving away. You can still find our project “Back There Again” on Spotify and iTunes. My first “professional” gig was with an oldies band called Bongo & The Point. Right around the time I left that band, I met Scotty helping him out with worship, and it was an incredible time filled with musical chemistry. Like he said, “It was like we could read each other’s minds.” We’ve been playing music with one another in some capacity ever since. We both took a dueling piano job, and wound up gigless. I play drums and sing now for a living. If you would have told me that even 10 years ago, I would have laughed in your face in disbelief.
Johnny: When did the idea of you two starting a two-man wonderband first come up?
Tim: I think Scotty had an offer in Lindale to play a solo gig. He asked me to join him and it went so well, we decided to pursue it further.
Johnny: What was behind the decision to just go with a two musician lineup?
Tim: I don’t think we ever set out to keep it a two man lineup, it just sort of happened that way. We haven’t really needed a third due to Scotty’s mad bass skills on his left hand. When the situation calls for it, we have brought in a bass player, but we just haven’t needed the third that often. It has been to our advantage, though. You can play for a lot less money, and fit into a lot tighter spaces than a four or five piece band can.
Johnny: And the name? Whose idea was that?
Scotty G: That was my idea. We’re both born again Christians with a second chance at life, but we’re also reliving our childhood by playing great old songs that we grew up with. Most of those songs bring back fond memories for people our age and a little older. I had actually formed a three piece band years earlier with the name 2nd Childhood, but when I was offered a good paying, full time position as a pianist at a dueling piano bar, I couldn’t say no. The band went one way and I went the other. Soon after that, I would realize that I had made a very poor decision and wound up with no job after a few months. But the other guys graciously brought me back into the band, now named The Tuxedo Cats which Tim and I are both proudly a part of to this day.
Johnny: You guys have a pretty eclectic mix of sounds in your extensive catalog, but if you had to categorize yourselves, where would you say your wheelhouse is, sound-wise?
Scotty G: I would call us a Baby Boomer Dance Band. We don’t really appeal to college age kids much. They don’t seem to relate to awesome lyrics, great chord changes, and stuff you can easily sing along to. But I guess every generation of musicians before me probably said the same thing…“These kids today!”
Tim: We have just grown up with these tunes that we are playing. They are a part of us. It’s hard to pour yourself into a song when you don’t identify with it. I think that goes both ways…for the artists playing and the audience listening. If it doesn’t speak your musical language, you aren’t going to be able to understand it. That being said, there are songs that we do play that college age kids love. Artists like Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth, Niall Horan, George Ezra…but they are songs that we as performers can identify with and put ourselves into. We have nothing against the other artists, we just have preferences like everyone else does.
Johnny: Are you ever trying to mix in any originals?
Scotty G: I do some of my old country original stuff from time to time, but most of my original songs are contemporary Christian. I was a worship leader for so many years, I can really only write about my first love, Christ.
Tim: I empathize with Scotty. The only thing that ever comes out of me when I write original tunes is Christian music. I have even tried to write love songs for my wife and I can’t. The songs just end up being a love song to Jesus.
Johnny: About how many shows does the band try to play a month?
Scotty G: We are the house duo every Wednesday night at Texas Music City Grill (formally Coyote Sam’s) in Tyler and every Thursday night at Texas Music City Grill in Lindale. We also work with the Tuxedo Cats every Friday and Saturday night. On top of that, I play several solo gigs at retirement homes all over Tyler. So for 2nd Childhood, it’s a steady eight gigs per month, but I’m doing about 25-30 gigs every month.
Johnny: Any challenges specific to having just two members on stage?
Scotty G: We haven’t come across one yet!
Tim: I mean obviously it’s difficult when someone asks for Bohemian Rhapsody with just two guys. We just can’t, and won’t, even try. We love the tune, but it just isn’t meant for a two piece band. Other than that, we haven’t found many musical mountains that we aren’t willing to climb as a two member band.
Johnny: Are most of the gigs in the East Texas area or do you travel out of the area at all?
Scotty G: Most of our gigs are right here in Tyler and Lindale, but if the money’s right…have keyboard and drums…will travel!
Johnny: What are you most proud of, as a band, at this point into it?
Scotty G: Our friendship is first and foremost.
Tim: I wholeheartedly agree!
Scotty G: I know if I lost both my arms and couldn’t play music anymore, Tim would duct tape a kazoo to my face and figure out a way we could still work together. Tim is a great musician, and an even better friend.
Tim: We both want our friendship to show the faithfulness of the wonderful God we serve; I am most proud of that. Yes, I got my big break from my buddies in Bongo and the Point, but it was Scotty that introduced me to the boys in the Tuxedo Cats. If it wasn’t for Scotty, I don’t think I would be playing professionally. Scotty is my best friend on and off the stage. We believe in and trust one another. That is something that I am also extremely proud of.
Johnny: What has been your favorite moment, on stage or off, as a duo so far?
Scotty G: 7pm every Wednesday and Thursday night! That’s the time we take the stage and look out at the same die hard fans who never disappoint, plus a few new faces every week.
Johnny: What is in the works for 2020?
Scotty G: Tim tells me he wants to start writing again, so we may have a little something put together this year. Finding the time between gigs is my biggest challenge but you’ll never hear me complain about that.
Tim: Yeah, I am getting the itch to write and record again. We definitely plan on developing the awesome relationship that we have with Tyler and surrounding areas. We love this area! We love the people! We are so excited for what the future holds, and you never know, an original project may be on the way, but until then we would love to entertain you every Wednesday at Texas Music City Grill in Tyler’ and Thursday at Texas Music City in Lindale, formerly known as Love & War at 7pm.
Johnny: What experience do you hope first timers will have at one of your shows?
Tim: We want everyone who comes to have a blast. We love to see smiles and laughter. We want first timers to experience good music and a friendly couple of guys that they can relate to. There are so many incredibly talented bands out there, we are just one of the many. We know people have a choice when it comes to entertainment. We want first timers to experience the appreciation we have for every person that comes to hear us, and to leave a little, or a lot happier than when they came.
Check out 2nd Childhood at facebook.com/2ndChildhoodtheband/.
Guitar On Fire: Reece Malone
By Johnny Griffith
Hendrix, Stevie Ray, B.B., Eddie, Slash, T-Bone Walker, David Gilmour, Duane Allman, Derek Trucks.
Their names, along with countless others, are etched into our brains and into the history of music along the way. The guitarist. That captivating centerpiece of modern music that constantly amazes us with their creativity and a certain amount of swagger. There are millions of people that day-dream about being a guitarist on stage. Even amongst the tens of thousands of garage guitarists and local legends who play every weekend there are few who possess the chops and that “it” factor who will ever get the opportunity to perform at the next level. But then you have musicians like local guitar prodigy Reece Malone who has packed a lifetime of experience into 16 phenomenal years.
The Longview native and Spring Hill ISD sophomore has been burning up stages since his debut 8 years ago with a resume of performances and endorsements under his belt that would make some of the most seasoned guitarists get excited. A working musician since 10, he’s been part of several projects and is currently chief shredder for Salvation From Sundown. I caught up to him this past month and was able to have a conversation to get to know him a little better.
Johnny: What is your earliest memory of music?
Reece: I remember growing up listening to Van Halen, Deep Purple ,Jimi Hendrix,Ozzy and people like that. I also remember one of my first concerts was seeing ZZ top and Aerosmith and getting to meet the guys from ZZ Top in person!
Johnny: Was guitar the first instrument you picked up? When did you start learning?
Reece: Guitar was the first instrument I picked up and started playing but I started learning by ear at about 6 or 7 years old. The first things I would pick up was stuff like smoke on the water and simple songs like that.
Johnny: Do you play any other instruments currently or is your primary focus guitar?
Reece: My primary focus currently is guitar but I do like to try to play other stuff like drums,bass, and piano.
Johnny: When did you realize you had a true gift for music?
Reece: After playing for the first time in Dallas, realizing how much everyone liked it and thought I was good. As a result, about 8 years old I started taking it more seriously.
Johnny: When and where was your first public performance?
Reece: I remember playing in Lewisville at a place called Coach Joe Avezzano’s Hat Tricks with Lance Lopez when I was around 8 years old.
Johnny: Who have been some of your most significant personal, and musical, influences thus far?
Reece: Lance Lopez has been a huge guide for me in my musical career but people like Jimi Hendrix, Philip Sayce, Eric gales, Derek Trucks & Marcus King are some of my biggest influences.
Johnny: So the first time I saw you perform live was probably the 2016 T Bone Walker Blues Festival in Longview and you were on stage with Lance Lopez and Salvation From Sundown. How did that relationship with Lance and those early years with SFS help shape you into the musician you are now?
Reece: Lance helped with music genre, songs and has even been in the band at one point so he has been a huge influence on me. The band name Salvation From Sundown originates from one of Lance’s albums as well. Lance has introduced me to several people in the industry and given me many opportunities through the years.
Johnny: For someone your age, you’ve got more experience on stage than some people get in a lifetime, what have some of the challenges been along the way with managing the things a teenager has to navigate and chasing the dream most musicians have?
Reece: I haven’t had many things to hold me back. I’ve been super blessed with my school working with me and my parents helping me along the way and all of my friends are understanding when I can’t do stuff with them. My parents are understanding with me doing stuff with my friends also so I’ve had great opportunities to do stuff musically and socially!
Johnny: You’ve had some pretty cool opportunities the last year or so with the Crossroads Festival and I’ve heard about this private event hosted by Gibson where you got to open for a couple of okay guitar players, want to talk about your experience with that?
Reece: I was very excited to be chosen to open up a private event with some really good friends playing all Gibson guitars opening for people like Slash, Don felder, Billy Gibbons , Rick Neilson, Celisse Henderson, Lizzy hale, Jimmy Vivino and several others. Eric Clapton’s Crossroads was also an amazing opportunity to be one of the only local guitarists invited to play the festival. I also performed on the Gibson stage at Winter NAMM in January and while in California I was invited to participate in a charity event Dark Side of the NAMM and played with Steven Perkins(drummer Jane’s Addiction), Stu Hamm (Bass player for Joe Satriani, Steve Vai) Gilby Clarke (Guns N Roses), and Vernon Reid (Living Colour).
Johnny: What are some other highlights of your young, but productive, career?
Reece: At the age of 13 I was invited to play at a halftime show at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. I was asked to represent Texas so I played a ZZ Top song. I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in with Marcus King in Dallas at The House of Blues. I’m the youngest guitarist to ever be featured on the cover of Buddy Magazine,which is the oldest music magazine in the state of Texas. I’ve also been professionally endorsed by Gibson Guitars, Ernie Ball Strings & Homestead Amplifiers. I truly have been fortunate so far in my music journey to be surrounded by amazing people and experiences.
Johnny: What is on your radar for 2020 that we should keep our eyes open for?
Reece: I will be playing at the Dallas international guitar festival, Bedford Blues festival, Gibson sponsored events and also many other shows throughout the year. You can look on our band page for more dates!
For more information about Reece and what he’s got going on, follow him on Instagram and Facebook at Reece Malone Music.
Rescheduled: Oct. 20th, 2020 Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival
The 2020 Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival Returns to Downtown Tyler
The new date has been set for Sunday, October 11th. It will be the same setup as normal, just on a Sunday: https://facebook.com/events/s/2020-red-dirt-bbq-music-festiv/1332463773558598/?ti=icl
May 2nd October 11th, the 7th annual Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival presented by Hyundai of Longview will be held in Downtown Tyler, and with it comes the best of barbecue in Texas and top of the line music all day.
The Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival has proven to be one of the most premier and unique music and food experiences in Texas. The festival takes place on the brick streets of the Downtown Square in Tyler every May, with the 2020 edition featuring at least 30 of the most celebrated barbecue restaurants in Texas. Music happens for nearly 12 hours on two stages, with the main stage highlighting the biggest names in Texas and Red Dirt Music.
This year’s festival will also feature the state’s most celebrated barbecue restaurants providing samples of their smoked meats to attendees. Barbecue joints from as close as Tyler and as far as Amarillo converge on the Rose City to showcase their smoked meats to thousands of barbecue enthusiasts, while thousands more pour onto the brick streets for the concert.
Performances this year feature Parker McCollum (10pm), Josh Abbott Band (8:15pm), Jason Boland & The Stragglers (6:45pm), Charley Crockett (5:15pm), and Chris Colston (3:45pm).
“Top to bottom, I don’t think there’s ever been a Red Dirt lineup we’ve been more excited about. Having these names join our incredible barbecue joints was a huge honor for our sixth festival,” Red Dirt promoter Chase Colston said. “We’re expecting an even faster sellout this year and can’t wait to get back on the brick streets for another great Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival.”
The festival is sold out. Watch reddirtbbqfest.com in case any more tickets are released.
Dagnabbit: Get Your Good Times On!
“He played, Fire on the mountain, run boys run”
The fiddle jumps in the musician’s hands as he wades into the crowd while playing the familiar strains of arguably Charlie Daniels’ best known hit.
“The Devil’s in the house of the rising sun!”
To the delight of onlookers, the fiddle player climbs up on the nearest table as he keeps playing while the rest of the band sings.
“Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ out dough!”
The crowd cheers him on as he balances precariously on the less-than-sturdy-table.
“Granny will your dog bite? No, child, no!”
As the band finishes the song, fiddle player still perched atop the wobbly table, the crowd erupts in applause, simultaneously appreciative of the performance and the fact that the fiddle player didn’t crash into their dinner. That fiddle player is Ryan Pierce, the band is Dagnabbit, and the crowd this time is the Pilots & Sponsors Party at the Great Texas Balloon Race.
Dagnabbit has been helping people satisfy their fix for live music since 2006. Originally started by Pierce, Ricochet bassist Greg Cook, and local drumming mainstay Terry Salyer, the musically-diverse collective has had various members since it’s inception, but the core line-up for the past few years has been Ryan Pierce on vocals/fiddle/guitar, Chuck Dowden on guitar/vocals, Tim Smith on bass guitars, Johnny Griffith on keyboards/vocals, and Joe Rodriguez on sound. The drummer on this particular night was Marcus Jones, a newcomer to the group with only a couple of shows with the band under his belt.
To describe the Dagnabbit band musically would be a challenge, as they will tackle just about anything, across any genre, in order to entertain at the particular event they’re playing. They play weddings, fundraisers, private parties, as well as local venues like Leon’s Steakhouse and Saloon in Longview or the Back Porch in Kilgore. If you had to pin them down to a summary description, they’d be a party band that specializes in good times wherever they go. Just as comfortable tackling Charlie Daniels as they are taking on Jason Aldean. Equally as proficient with such funk classics “Play That Funky Music” as they are with R&B hits “Purple Rain” and “Easy Like Sunday Morning.” As likely to play Garth Brooks as they are the Rolling Stones or Elton John, Dagnabbit setlists are designed to move with the mood of the crowd and play toward how they respond. Sound engineer Joe Rodriguez says, “The vibe that the guys have on stage is a feeling that anything is possible at any time, so you don’t know what might happen next. It certainly keeps me on my toes at the sound board.”
The ability to be such chameleons on stage is a byproduct of a talented lineup of musicians, each one accomplished and seasoned on their respective instruments from years of playing in local, regional, or national acts. Pierce, 40, who pulls the majority of the typical “front man” duties has played with such National Acts as Neal McCoy and The Oak Ridge Boys. In addition, he was the house band leader for the Reo Palm Isle, at one point performing with Miranda Lambert early in her career. Ryan started playing music seriously around the age of 18 and studied music in college before starting to play in bands. Bassist Tim Smith started playing at age 11 in church and has played with regional acts such as Mark Cooke, Waylon Pierce, and various other bands. Joe Rodriguez, 47, started playing guitar around 14, mixing audio around the age of 25, and has gigged with several bands and churches in the area. Johnny Griffith, 42, began studying classical piano at the age of 5 and continued into college, performing in churches and by 13 was playing in local restaurants and open jam nights. Chuck Dowden, 54, began guitar at 8 and started playing in bands in his 20’s and has recently taken up steel guitar. Marcus Jones started drumming around the age of 10, having played in churches and bands in the Austin area before moving to East Texas in 2012.
Despite their cumulative experience, or perhaps in large part due to their time in other bands, Dagnabbit has a decidedly casual feel on stage. It’s obvious as one watches the band interact with each other and the crowd, they’re having as much fun, if not more, than the people watching them. While they are one of the more polished bands you’ll find in the area, they embrace the inevitable curve ball and mistake, laughing them off and many times working it into the bit in a way that makes you wonder if it was even planned that way. “It’s pretty obvious if a band isn’t having fun with what they’re doing when on stage, and the crowd responds accordingly,” Pierce says. “If a band has tension, or just views it as another gig, then it’s hard to draw the crowd into what you’re doing. We look at it as getting to hang out with five of your good friends and make music while joking around and making a hundred or so new friends over the course of the night.”
An evening with Dagnabbit also comes with a few audience perks along the way, other than just getting to hear a quality band with a diverse catalog. It’s common for Pierce to prompt the audience for requests, and equally as likely a person gets invited on stage to help sing or play an instrument. Speaking of instruments, one of the regular bits the band does include is getting a volunteer from the audience to become “the newest member of the Dagnabbit band” while playing a cowbell during the funk portion of the set. There routinely are wigs, dance competitions, crowd sing-a-longs, and a long list of guest artists pulled on stage to showcase their own talents with Dagnabbit acting as a backup band.
Despite the band playing between 30 to 40 shows a year, they insist this is just a side hobby as they each have careers outside of music. “We’re not that type of band, trying to be something bigger than what we are right now,” band patriarch Chuck Dowden explains. “We don’t need to play somewhere every weekend to make a living, and I think that reduces the stress level quite a bit that comes along with trying to gain exposure for a larger platform. It allows us to relax and just play the gig in front of us at the moment.” Dowden, originally from Henderson, moved to Longview in 1981 and started Dowden Supply Company in 1983, opening a Tyler location in the mid-1990’s. Pierce started Alpha Construction in Longview in 2001 and Blackwater Oilfield Services in 2014, while Tim Smith owns TS Construction out of Liberty City. Rodriguez has worked for Mundt Music for several years and has done sound engineering for several churches and private events, while Johnny Griffith is Operations/Sales Manager for Tejas Hydraulics in Longview, and newcomer Marcus Jones works for Aramark Services, also out of Longview.
Dagnabbit has been steadily gaining fans and gigs for the past several years as new opportunities present themselves, but according to keyboardist, Johnny Griffith, their biggest fans, as well as toughest critics, continue to be their families. “Everyone in the band has a family, and we wouldn’t be on stage without their support. Family is the most important thing to each of us, but we have been blessed with spouses who understand how important the music is to us also. Somehow they still continue to come out to our shows, even after hearing the same material hundreds of times.” Each member of Dagnabbit is a father and will routinely bring the kids out to family-friendly events, adding to the intimate atmosphere the band has fostered to this point. Griffith says they are perfectly content to play gigs within an hour or so of Longview so that “everyone can sleep in their own bed at night.”
Indeed, a night with the Dagnabbit band is more like a night out with a bunch of your buddies, watching them joke, antagonize, and marvel at each other on stage over the course of the evening. As the night progressed at the Great Texas Balloon Race, at one point Pierce steps up and sings the phrase, “Come on, come on, get your good times on!” while motioning the typically subdued Smith toward a mic. Smith simply grins and declines the invitation, yet once the mic is safely away from him smiles, yelling out, “All I’m saying is a 20 is a 20, player!” – the band laughing as if some inside joke has just been shared between them, and they know the best time to be had that night, was happening on stage.
(In case you are wondering, “20 is a 20” vaguely references a saying that implies “there isn’t much I won’t do for a 20 bill” referring to you’d have to pay for Tim to talk on the mic.)
Dagnabbit can be found at www.facebook.com/dagnabbit.yall. Upcoming Shows:
- September 9th @ Leon’s Steakhouse, Longview, 8:30pm
- September 10th @ Leon’s Steakhouse, Longview, 8:30pm
- September 17th @ The Back Porch, Kilgore, 8pm
- October 8th @ Get Rowdy Get Loud, Hallsville ISD Education Foundation Fundraiser, Hallsville
- October 15th @ Dawg Fest Motorcycle Rally, C.A.S.A. benefit, Mt. Pleasant
- October 21st @ Leon’s Steakhouse, Longview, 8:30pm
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