By Johnny Griffith
Some people are content to go through life with blinders on to what happens around them. Sometimes it’s because we get so caught up in our own individual stories that we just don’t stop to notice what is going on with our neighbors. Other times it’s an intentional choice to wait for someone else to fix the problem. One East Texan, Patrick Lissner, and his family have decided to stop waiting, but rather use their talents and resources to change the world one action at a time.
A transplant to the Tyler area, Patrick has been attracted to music his entire life and started singing at an early age. He can be found on stages locally and has decided to use that platform to spread a message of positivity and change. We sat down with him this month to get to know him better.
Johnny: You’ve got a really interesting story, Patrick. how about giving a bit of your background on how you got to Tyler?
Patrick: I am German-American. I was born in Bremen, Germany, lived there until I was about 4 ½ , grew up speaking German and English at the same time, and I am still fluent in German today. My family was in the horse-trading industry in the 70’s, buying horses from a ranch in between Big Sandy and Gilmer, TX, about 1,000 acres total. We eventually bought the ranch and that is where I grew up. It was a boy’s paradise, romping around the land without a care in the world. I went to school from K-12 at Big Sandy ISD, then the family sold the ranch in 2001 and I subsequently moved to Tyler. I attended TJC and eventually graduated from UT Tyler with a Communication/Marketing degree.
I met my wife at TJC and we started dating in 2003. We got married in 2005 and now have four children, Zoe 11, Ava 9, Maximus 7, and Gabriella 8 months.
We own Moss – ”Where Flowers are Fair.” We started the business in 2012 in hopes to bring conscious consumerism to East Texas. “Where Flowers are Fair” is a reference to Fair Trade. Less than 3% of flowers imported into the U.S. are fairly traded, so my wife works extra hard to source her flowers ethically from either local growers or growers who are fair trade or ethically sourced. A portion of purchases at her store goes directly to help support For the Silent, an anti-human trafficking organization right here in Tyler, TX.
We are passionate about using our gifts and talents to leave this world a better place than we found it, making as many friends as we can along the way. I turn 37 this October, but I’ve lived a lot of life and feel I have a lot of stories to tell. I try to unleash 110% of my passion in the songs I sing and how I perform on stage. I hope it leaves people wondering what will be next.
Johnny: When and how did you first get interested in music?
Patrick: I’ve been singing since I was 3 years old. My Dad was a huge Neil Diamond fan. We used to have this VHS tape of me in my Huggies, with my Dad’s sunglasses on holding a TV remote as a microphone singing, “Coming to America”. Music has always been my peace and my escape. I often joke and say, “It’s cheaper than therapy” which I believe is true.
Johnny: Did you have any early mentors that really pushed you or inspired you to stay with it?
Patrick: Yes, my elementary music teacher, Mrs. Eckeberger, was always so encouraging, I sang in the school show choir – yes, you heard that correctly. We went to show choir competitions. I won Best Male Vocalist in our choir. She always pushed me to be a better singer and encouraged me along the way.
In high school I had a youth director tell me my talent had no bounds and that I was going to do something big with music one day. That stuck with me and made me all the more passionate about pursuing music.
Johnny: When did you really start thinking about music being more than a hobby?
Patrick: Always. Seriously, music has never been a “hobby” for me; I’ve always taken it seriously, but with passion and a desire to have fun every single time I play.
Johnny: What have been some of the challenges you’ve experienced trying to realize music as a livelihood?
Patrick: Finding my voice and sound. It is easy to emulate others, and I do that from time to time with covers and it’s fun, but I always try to put my “twist” or interpretation on the song. But I think a lot of musicians, myself included, needed to be told early on: Be yourself, there is only one of you, sing with your voice, play your style, embrace it.
Johnny: Who were your early influences, musically?
Patrick: Dave Matthews Band, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Drake, Black Crowes, 90s grunge rock.
Johnny: How would you describe your music?
Patrick: You get what you see/hear. I like to sing every note as if it were my last. There is a lot of sweat, awkward dancing (by me) but a full-throttle sound. We are folk-rock/Americana, but we like to surprise you with other influences too.
Johnny: How much of the music you perform is original versus cover songs?
Patrick: I’d say it varies, depending on how long the set is, but can vary between half original and half cover to ¾ cover and ¼ original, just depends on the gig and if its a solo or full-band gig.
Johnny: I like to ask all the musicians I interview what their most memorable gig has been so far, so what’s yours?
Patrick: I’d say last fall – It was raining cats and dogs, nothing we could do about it, we were playing at True Vine, a full band show, we had an amazing rehearsal and were ready to bring it, and then the rain came. First thought was well, we play the same for 5 or 500 … 500 didn’t show, but we had around 200 + folks show up in the rain, singing along to the covers and soaking in the originals – it was a lively crowd. I always love the unexpected goodness that happens from time to time.
Johnny: What’s the farthest you’ve traveled to play a show so far?
Patrick: Wisconsin. Granted at the time I was living there, but for a Texas boy, it was a different crowd.
Johnny: Are you just primarily a solo act, or do you ever collaborate with other musicians?
Patrick: Primarily full band, drums, guitar, violin, bassist, lead player. Would love to add some keys to the band eventually.
Johnny: East Texas is known for having an embarrassment of riches when it comes to musicians. What do you feel makes this area just a little different from everywhere else?
Patrick: I think East Texas truly has a mentality of, “we can do anything.” Not in some narcissistic way, but we will try and if at first, we don’t succeed we will try again. We are resilient. Most ETX folk are kind-hearted and will give you the shirt off their back. I think we have a lot of stories to tell and it comes out in music.
Johnny: What’s on the immediate horizon musically for you?
Patrick: I’m looking to produce a 6 song EP. We’ve got the single “Breathe Easy” which is a song I recently wrote about watching my Dad fight, and eventually lose, a battle with cancer – he passed in January – and the birth of my daughter, who was born December 3. It talks about the chaos of life, the ebbs, and flows of goodness and bitterness, and the fact that we can all “Breathe Easy” and not take ourselves so seriously. Kindness is free, and if we live in it, it’s easy to give to others.
Follow Patrick at facebook.com/plissnermusic.