By Johnny Griffith
Tyler is a city with an impressive amount of homegrown talent that spans an eclectic mix of styles. However, it is a fair observation to say that Country and Rock take up a vast majority of the real estate on local stages though recently, acts from other genres, such as Blues, Jazz, and Pop, are making their own place in the musical soul of the city. One of these projects, Lindsay Boone and Grady Axton Davis, the duo known as Old Omen, has brought their love of some of these divergent styles together to create a spooky good blend of gritty, soulful vocals and powerful, bluesy guitar. Together, they’ve been on an upward trajectory as they broaden the auditory palates of local music patrons.
We sat down with the dynamic duo recently to get better acquainted:
Johnny: So let’s start with the name of the project: “Old Omen.” What’s the significance of the name?
Grady: I always thought it was a creepy sounding road in Tyler, and it’s always made me laugh. It came up when we were trying to think of a band name. We wanted something with significance to East Texas.
Lindsay: Something that somehow captured our sound too. I love that there could be a great character behind the name. I picture an old guy smoking on his front porch, listening to blues, and I imagine he’d like our songs.
Johnny: Your bio says you met each other at a Beatles tribute show where you
subsequently ended up performing a couple of shows together. When and where was this, and how were you two put together at that show?
Lindsay: We both played in these tribute shows that Matt Magill puts together at The Foundry, and became friends through that. We really bonded at the Beatles show because we’re both crazy fans of their music, and ended up talking for hours about 1960’s music and how much we loved it. I’d seen him play; he’d heard me sing, and shortly afterward I sent him what ended up being a pretty important text: “Hey, want to be in a blues band together?” Ha!
Johnny: When did you individually first get into music?
Grady: My uncle always played, so I grew up watching him. I was transfixed, watching his fingers, hearing the sounds; I just thought it was awesome. I got a guitar in fifth grade but never played it, and a few years later asked for a telescope for Christmas. My dad reminded me of the guitar I hadn’t played, and I wanted to prove I deserved the telescope, so I started playing that guitar. Then I became absolutely hooked. That Christmas I also used a CD my dad got as a gift to test out my new Discman, and it was the “Best of Cream.” I remember pressing play and hearing this psychedelic Eric Clapton, this nutso guitar, and I knew what I wanted to do in life.
Lindsay: My parents aren’’t musical at all, but thankfully insisted I start piano lessons at eight years old. I devoured every practice book, every piece of sheet music, everything my teacher gave me, and within two years was so tired of playing other people’s stuff that I wanted to write my own. I picked up other instruments along the way, and after hearing jazz vocalists from the 1940’s in college, realized I could use my voice as an instrument, and thankfully, it came easiest to me.
Johnny: Who were your early musical influences?
Grady: Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix.
Lindsay: Fiona Apple, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul McCartney.
Johnny: Obviously you two traveled different stylistic paths to get to where you are to the point where the bio on your website says, “he showed her Led Zeppelin, she showed him Otis Redding.” How do you think those disparate perspectives have helped you craft this unique sound?
Grady: I think your questions answers the question. I bring mashed potatoes, she brings gravy.
Lindsay: He’s M&M’s, and I’m Skittles. Our differences make us so musically strong and create a different sort of blend. You have the super bluesy, raw, rock-based acoustic guitar with strong jazzy female vocal; it’s just a cool sound.
Johnny: Speaking of that sound, it’s been described as “bluesy, swampy, folk-rock.” So break that down for us a bit more. I’ve heard your music, and it seems to me to be like someone took a little bit of Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray, Bonnie Raitt, Brittany Howard, Rolling Stones, tossed them together and sprinkled a bit of Mellencamp over the top for good measure. How would YOU clarify it to someone who hadn’t heard you before?
Grady: That sounds good to me!
Lindsay: I’d throw in some Civil Wars and Etta James in there, but that sounds like a major compliment. Any comparison to Brittany Howard is pretty damn flattering.
Johnny: When and where was your first show as “Old Omen?”
Lindsay: We unveiled the name at the next tribute show, a Dolly Parton show, where we did a killer version of “I Will Always Love You,” in a minor key. It was very haunting, totally unlike the original.
Johnny: Are you primarily a duo, or do you gig with a full band sometimes? If you use a band at times, who fills out the stage?
Lindsay: At its heart, Old Omen is a duo, but we do enjoy occasionally playing with a full band. We often ask jazz bassist Chris Pitts to join us, and even do a more classic-rock quartet with drummer Jeff Shelton and bassist Bill Scott.
Johnny: What has been the most memorable moment for you, on or off stage, since you’ve been performing together as Old Omen?
Grady: Lola’s (one of our first gigs) was such a good initial place to play, just honing what we do at a sandwich shop, and having kids come and dance. Also, we’re pretty proud that we’re 100% for country clubs not asking us back.
Lindsay: The first weekend we had three gigs in 24 hours, just living on music and driving around. It was pretty amazing. It showed me how much I wanted my life to be this way.
Johnny: How has the response to this project been so far?
Grady: We hope it’s something very different in the Tyler music scene. I think the genres we’re tapping into don’t get on display very often in Tyler, or even outside of Tyler. You don’t get just a ton of bluesy soul original music, and I hope people think, “That’s a lot of sound for just two people to be producing.”
Johnny: What’s on the horizon for you guys the rest of 2017 and beyond?
Lindsay: We’re so pumped for our first album (self-titled), which will be released on July 22nd and available on iTunes, Spotify, etc. We’re having a big block party outside El Guapo Records and ETX Brewing Co. to promote and celebrate its release. We hope to go on a North Texas tour in August as well, and continue to gig heavily in East Texas.
Johnny: What would you tell someone about to sit down and listen to an Old Omen show to expect?
Lindsay: Something different, something vibrant and original and full of passion. We play with our souls on our sleeves, and I want everyone who hears us to know it. You’re just not going to see a guitarist like Grady every day; he plays with such fire and such love for blues and rock, and I’m hoping I can overpower you enough with my voice to feel it in your chest.
Upcoming Old Omen Shows:
- July 15th: Athens Brewing Company-Athens
- July 22nd: Lola’s- Tyler
- July 22nd: El Guapo Records-Tyler, Tx (Album Release Date)
- July 28th: ETX Brewing Company-Tyler
Old Omen on the Web: