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Taking Every Footstep To Heart:  Gary Patrick

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By Johnny Griffith

Month to month I talk to a lot of musicians here in East Texas. Either I’m interviewing them for EGuide, or playing with them on stage, or catching one of their shows in between gigs. One of the things I always enjoy asking when we talk is “Who excites you in the East Texas music scene?” People are always happy to share who they’ve seen lately that they enjoyed or who I need to go see, and the list is as diverse as the group of people I’m asking. However, there is one name who kept popping up on enough lists that I finally had to stop and give him a listen.

That name was Gary Patrick. 

Originally born in Tyler, Gary took a circuitous route around the country over the next several years that saw his career as a working musician begin in Southern California and from there would take him all over the country and even as far away as Europe before bringing him back to where he started, right here in East Texas. 

With a gift for telling a story and the musical chops to back it up, Patrick is part Pat Green, part Tom Petty, but yet completely Gary Patrick. His latest single, “Man’s Gotta Have Some Fun,” cracked the top 50 in 8 weeks, and he was recently nominated for “new male vocalist of the year” in the Texas Regional Radio & Music Awards. I was lucky enough to grab some time with Gary in between stops on his radio station tour to sit down and find out more about the man that has local musicians talking.

Johnny: What is your earliest memory in music?

Gary: My mother’s jewelry box had a wind-up music harp in it. The song was “Fur Elise” by Ludwig Van Beethoven. I was mesmerized by that melody and kept coming back to open the magic music box. I was around three years old. 

Johnny: You grew up in a very musical family, but when did you have that moment when you wanted to start learning it for yourself?

Gary: My older brother Ronnie, who is 12 years older than me, played guitar and taught me a few things when I was tiny. I couldn’t wrap my hand around the neck of the guitar so I played the strings almost like a piano from the top of the fretboard. At 10 years old, my folks took me to Mundt Music here in Tyler, circa 1981, where I met my most impressionable music mentor, guitar teacher and friend, Tom Russell. Tom taught me from age 10 until I was almost 18. To make a long story short, the answer to your question is sometime around ten or eleven. I still remember how music took a firm hold on me. What I didn’t understand then but clearly understand now is that I really didn’t choose music, but rather it chose me. I was innocent and helpless but I loved how music made me feel, and that learning an instrument was a deeper connection with something that would always be with me.

Johnny: At what point did you start thinking this was something you wanted to be more than just a hobby and perhaps try to make a career out of it?

Gary: That moment came in 1990. I graduated high school in 1989 and moved to Southern California, where I was attending college courses for an Aeronautical Engineering program. I also love flying and thought of making a career as a pilot. I was two semesters in when I realized my heart just wasn’t in it. My folks have always supported my music and urged me to pursue my dreams, so my Dad walked me around the block one evening and said college courses will be here for you but these are the years to cultivate a career in music. So, go and find your way with our blessing and support.

Johnny: Do you remember who was in your first band and what your first show was?

Gary: I certainly do! Les Clanton and his stepbrother Tony McAfee were in my first band. We knew each other since elementary at Alba-Golden ISD. The very first show we played was a big talent show at school. We were called “Novice” but later we changed our name to the “Thundering Hearts,” perhaps to imply we weren’t quite novices any longer. Now that I think of it, I believe Les came up with both names. 

Johnny: Your journey has taken you pretty far from your roots in Jacksonville, is there anything that sticks out in particular along the way?

Gary: Oh wow, how much time do we have here?

I take to heart each and every footstep along the way. My journey with music has had many chapters and many sacrifices. There’s nothing normal about the career of a singer/songwriter/musician/entertainer, but luckily I’ve had the fortune of making many incredible friends and colleagues since my early years of being a professional musician. 

Some memories that stick out in my mind over my career are; playing music up and down the Southern California Coast; taking my band to Helsinki, Finland for a month in 1995 where my long hair froze off, and I’m totally not kidding; playing guitar and singing for Beach Boys great Brian Wilson’s daughters for a few TV shows and radio station tours; being a contracted band for the Bellagio and Mirage Casinos in Las Vegas for several years; recording three albums; currently promoting my second radio single, “Man’s Gotta Have Some Fun,” on Texas Radio; and playing multiple shows per week.

Johnny: When did you first start writing your own material?

Gary: That would happen when I was around 12 or so. 

Johnny: What would you consider your favorite original? How about your favorite cover song?

Gary: Hmm. I think my favorite original song is “Blue Skies” from my latest album, “No Standing Waves,” and my favorite cover song? Yikes, that’s virtually impossible to answer. I must say, “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits speaks to me. The lyrics and music are so good it hurts. The story line puts you right there … boy meets girl at a carnival. It takes me back to that innocence every time.

Johnny: How would you describe your particular style to someone who has never heard you?

Gary: With my latest album, I’m proud to say that I sound like me, Gary Patrick. Equal parts of all elements in music that have inspired me vocally, lyrically, and musically since my journey began all those years ago. If I were to describe me in the third person, I might say, “Gary Patrick… he’s that guy that reminds me of Bryan Adams’s tenor voice and plays guitar kinda like Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. He writes deep lyrics like Gordon Lightfoot, delivers a story like Willie Nelson, and has the happy country energy of Keith Urban.” 

In the end, I absolutely sound like me. All artists have their influences. I certainly have influences across several genres. If you could mix em up and pour a cup, the above mentioned might be a good description. 

Johnny: You’ve done quite a bit of studio work. How has that experience evolved for you and what did you learn from the process that you’ve carried with you moving forward?

Gary: Studio recording is the ultimate litmus test for a musician. I have so much to say about this so I’ll try not to ramble. As an artist, you’ll always be moving onward and upward as long as you work at your craft. Recording is important because it teaches you where you need to refine. If you are an artist or musician that only plays live shows, you are in for a lesson when you step into a studio. The studio environment is completely sterile. You hear all the mistakes you might otherwise miss while playing live. I’d suggest every musician practice playing with a metronome. Guitarist, I’d suggest refine how hard you strike the guitar with your right hand or clutch the neck and pull things out of tune. Refine, refine, refine, refine and REFINE your lyrics before going into the studio. Learn the art of co-writing with folks. Learn to be objective with your lyrics and make certain the story holds true from the first to last word. 

Vocally, get yourself some coaching! Especially if you tend to write songs that peak your vocal range. If you are struggling at all with singing your songs, either change the key or realize that you may need help. Incredible vocal coaches from Los Angeles and Las Vegas can teach you via Skype. In my 30 year career, I wouldn’t have survived vocally without having the knowledge I learned from years of coaching. Knowing vocal technique will only serve you better in the studio. 

If you are an artist without a band and want to record a single or a few songs, reach out and find a producer who can put together a recording session and hire players for you. Sometimes you just don’t have all the answers, so it’s time to build relationships. 

Be serious about your art but don’t take yourself too seriously! This is something that I can speak from experience with. Being intense is a good thing, but remember to relax and enjoy this. Everyone else will enjoy it more too.

Johnny: Do you primarily perform with a full band or more solo work these days?

Gary: I perform solo, acoustic trio, acoustic four piece and full electric band…whatever the venue or show calls for. 

Johnny: What do you have coming up the rest of this year into 2020 that we can look forward to?

Gary: We are playing several shows per week, all over the East Texas area. You can always check our calendar on my website: garypatrick.love.

Johnny: The East Texas music scene has a great collaborative vibe to it, seemingly more so than other areas I’ve experienced over the years. To what would you attribute this sense of community the local musicians in this area seem to share?

Gary: I talk about this all the time, Johnny. I love how much music there is in East Texas. I love seeing so many artists and musicians happily supporting one another. East Texas is a great community that fosters some amazing relationships. On top of that you have so many venues now that support live entertainment. All of that encourages excellence. You know, I’ve personally never been a huge fan of the singing contest TV shows. It’s not how I built a lasting career as a musician or refined my skills and relationships. However, I’ve noticed since shows like “The Voice,” “American Idol,” etc., SO many talented singers/musicians have emerged and a new generation of folks are inspired. The Texas Country scene has completely blown up and offers opportunity for artists and musicians to cultivate a career. Like any career, there’s lots to learn and dues to pay along the way, and that’s where I am in this. I’m promoting singles to Texas Radio, driving to little radio stations all over the state, and meeting new folks that love music. Trying to move the machine out of my 100 mile orbit and grow new fans. It’s hard work. There are times when I want to swing a hammer instead of a guitar, but then I regroup and realize this is what I do.

Johnny: So the last question is hypothetical. You’re stuck on a remote island for the next year and can take one album, and one album only…what is it?

Gary: Oh that’s easy.. Journey, “Infinity, 1978.”

Follow Gary Patrick online at garypatrick.love and facebook.com/Gary-Patrick-Music-2083252245021618/.

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Live Music Guide, Tyler TX

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To list or make any changes to this Live Music Gig Guide for #tylertx, please e-mail to eguidemagazine@gmail.com. In the constantly changing world of Covid-19 pandemic, we at EGuideMagazine.com are making every attempt to keep everything updated. However, we suggest that you still double-check with the businesses to confirm that the events are still happening.

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Cowan Center: Sept. 24th “Menopause the Musical”

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\For more events, check out EGuideMagazine.com ‘s entire

Wondering what is showing at the Cowan Center? 

“This is our 24th Season! We can’t believe it either! We promise to have lots of great talent again and will be gearing up as we celebrate a quarter of a century soon. Over the next 2 years we will be developing programming for new target audiences and upgrading our premiere venue known across the state and beyond as a magnet for amazing artists and shows.”

All events are performed in the Cowan Center located on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler, 3900 University Boulevard – FAC 1120 in Tyler, TX (Google Map).

QUESTIONS? Call (903)566.7424. More information and TICKETS can also be found at CowanCenter.org. Watch for announcements on Cowan’s Facebook and Twitter pages too.

Upcoming acts are:

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Keeping Her Groove: Lauren Alexander

By Johnny Griffith

2020 hasn’t been a kind year for working musicians, or really just about anyone for that matter, but it certainly seems in the maelstrom of chaos created by Covid-19, the financial and creative toll for musicians hasn’t been getting front-page news. 

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See who is playing where at EGuide’s Gig Guide!

Between the complete shutdown, partial re-open, and then partial shutdown again, the number of stages up for grabs has shrunk dramatically, making gigs harder to come by. 

On top of that is the balancing act of health concerns for yourself and your family versus the desire to get out and connect with audiences and fellow bandmates. To say the landscape is challenging would be a gross understatement.

But musicians are a resilient, creative lot and have found various ways throughout the last few months to still get their music out for public consumption whether it be via live stream acoustic shows in their kitchens, new material available for streaming, or starting a podcast

All of these have given fans a much-needed connection to their favorite musicians, in a surprisingly more intimate setting, allowing for real-time requests and interactions as well as giving people an opportunity to still support the music with online donations via Paypal, Venmo, etc.

Speaking of podcasts (see what I did there?) I had the opportunity recently to sit down (virtually) with one of our local musicians, Lauren Alexander, and talk about how things have been going in the midst of the shut down for her, her family, and her band and what she’s been doing to stay occupied in 2020.

Johnny: First of all, great to get to interview you again. I think the last time we talked was in 2017 and you had a baby and a new album on the way. A lot has transpired since then, but how has the transition to juggling motherhood and being a full-time musician gone?

Lauren: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat. Yes, a lot has changed since 2017. My baby is now 2 ½ and the world has gone mad! But seriously, besides the obvious hard times that are going on, things have been great. 

Motherhood has been the most incredible, rewarding journey. It was definitely a weird transition for me though, and something I’m sure I will always be working on. When you become a parent, everything changes. Everything becomes about somebody else, and there is SO much planning involved. If we’ve got a gig, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got a babysitter. I’ve got to make sure there are diapers, and toys, and snacks in the diaper bag. And most importantly, I have to make sure I raise a kind and loving human. 

I’ve definitely had to step up my game. I’ve never been much of a planner, I’m usually a “go with the flow and see what happens” kind of gal. So, yeah, the transition has definitely had its challenges. But I’ve grown in every area of my life. My songwriting is so much deeper, and more meaningful now, and I owe it all to my son, Rhodes.

Johnny: Speaking of a world gone mad, everything for working musicians pretty much turned upside down this past spring. What went through your mind when the order to close all bars, limit gatherings, etc., came down? 

Lauren: It was scary. Most of our income comes from playing live music, so not being able to play or book future shows has been weird and hard. 

Everything feels uncertain. But I’ve been doing a lot of writing and filling up my cup. I’m trying not to focus too much on what I can’t do, and focus instead on things I can do. Although this season is hard, I know it’s not forever. 

Johnny: As things have sort of opened back up then closed back down and the general yo-yo effect has become the new normal, have you been working toward any specific goals for when things get back to “normal?”

Lauren: I’ve got a new album called “Field Notes” coming out. We are almost done recording, so I’ve been working really hard on that. 

I know a lot of bands are playing live right now, but that’s really not an option for me with a young kiddo. Our babysitting options are very few at the moment. 

I’m not sure how touring will look going forward, but I feel good knowing that right now, I’m doing what I need to do to keep my family safe…even when my heart is aching for the road.

Johnny: A lot of musicians started doing live streams just to maintain that sense or normalcy, and to give fans a way to still enjoy that live music experience as well as show their appreciation through some creative tipping avenues. Did you climb on that train and, if so, did you feel that adequately satiated that desire to perform live in front of an in-person audience or did it still lack that…something? 

Lauren: I’ve done one live stream, and I’ve got another scheduled September 17th with the fine folks at Universal Language. 

But I’ve gotta say, that first one was weird. I was really nervous. It’s hard to connect through a screen. I’m glad we have the option to do live streams, but I sure do miss the connection. 

People have been very generous buying merch though. That has been so helpful. I’m not even sure they realize how much it means to an artist, especially right now. Spending $20 on a shirt helps keep the lights on and food on the table. It’s also what has made recording this new music possible.

Johnny: So, you’ve got this new podcast, Groove LAB, you’ve started. When did that idea start to take shape in your head? Was it a product of boredom from the lack of a live creative outlet or was it something you’d had in mind for a while, or simply the fruition of a few conversations sitting around with bandmates and family? Or perhaps all of the above?

Lauren: Starting the Groove LAB podcast has been something I’ve talked about for a while. I started listening to podcasts when my son was born so I could have some “adult interaction” and feel like I was with friends when I couldn’t be. I’m not the kind of person who can sit around doing nothing, so I just decided to go for it. 

Johnny: Were there any specific challenges to overcome in taking it from idea to reality?

Lauren: Luckily, we had most of the equipment we needed to record a podcast already, and my husband, Richie, was quick to get it set up. I do struggle with shyness, so reaching out and asking questions can be uncomfortable for me. I’m usually on the other side of the interview! Coming up with good questions, keeping the conversation flowing, while also knowing what I’m going to ask next is definitely a different skill set. Luckily, there’s always room for growth and learning, and I so appreciate everyone’s support in this new venture. 

Johnny: So when you made the decision “Yes, we’re going to do this,” did you have a solid idea of what your focus would be on or did that take shape on the fly?

Lauren: I knew I wanted to talk about music, but not really the full ins and outs of it. I also knew that unlike music, where I can practice and rehearse in private, I would need to jump in blindly with this and figure out how to make a good podcast host while in the thick of it. I’m not great at it yet, but the more episodes I record, the more comfortable I feel. I love the idea of giving other people in the music industry an outlet to talk about their art. The world is overflowing with incredibly creative and talented people, and I hope to speak to as many as I can!

Johnny: So how did you land on the name Groove LAB?

Lauren: It was a back and forth for several weeks on what we should call the podcast. I aspire to make music you can groove to so that part was easy. LAB is an acronym for Lauren Alexander Band. I thought it would be fun to have that little element in the name. Groove LAB just felt really good and natural.

Johnny: You’ve got a couple of episodes under your belt now. How has the reality of producing a podcast been different from the idea?

Lauren: It’s a lot of work! There’s lots of editing involved. And I truly didn’t realize the number of times I said ‘um’ and ‘like’! I’m working hard to figure out the transitions of keeping a conversation flowing and asking every question that’s on my list. 

I’m also starting to look into analytics and talk with people about sponsorships which have me very out of my element. But it’s great. There’s been lots of learning involved and I just kind of jumped in with nothing to lose so it’s not super stressful.

Johnny: The first couple of episodes have certainly been entertaining and given us a personal look into the lives of a couple of musicians that, at least for me, were off the radar. What is your vision moving forward for the podcast

Lauren: I’m glad you think so. I listen back and think, “Oh God, is this really how I sound when I talk?!?” 

I’m only used to hearing my singing voice played back. Moving forward, I just hope that people keep enjoying it. I want to continue to grow and get better, and to be able to stay in the loop of what’s going on in the music scene. 

Johnny: Do you have any guests lined up you’re particularly excited about?

Lauren: I’m going to interview Drew Hall from Rosewood Studios soon. And Robert Woodward from Wunderful Design Co.! They’ve both been invaluable in helping me with my creative vision, so it will be fun to hear what they have to say and see if they have any good tips for other artists.

Johnny: Thanks again for taking the time to tackle some questions for us. Last question…who are you listening to, besides yourself, that really excites you these days?

Lauren: Thank you! I’ve been letting myself fall in love again with old favorites who have shaped me over the years….Pink Floyd, Neil Young, The Beatles. I’m also throwing in some TLC and No Doubt for good measure. 

You can follow with Lauren’s adventures in podcasting online:

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