Printed in the Sherman Herald Democrat, 5/7/10, and on My Space following that.
By Mary Jane Farmer
Dustin Perkins got his first taste of the stage at the age of 15, when his mother drove him to T-Bones for an open mic session. Since then, music has been his passion and that passion has become his goal.
Perkins is releasing his first professionally-recorded CD this weekend, with a shindig that includes some of his best buddy bands, Spur 503, Oliver White, Linzi Barthold, and 2 Bar Town.
Members of Spur 503 will be playing behind Dustin on stage. “I’ve kind of always been the little brother for that band. It was the first one to let me open for them, and they have booked me several times and kept me busy. I’m so thankful they are in my life,” Dustin said about Spur 503.
The CD features one cover song, a Tonic tune, among the myriad of original songs that showcase Perkins’ versatility and background of influences to include a little bit of the blues, pop, Texas-but-not-mainstream-pop country, and some that defy genre classification.
After that first open mic session that hooked Perkins, he entered, through his Bells High School, an FFA talent competition. “It was for all Texas schools. I won the district and advanced to area, then to state. That whole morning before the show, I was as nervous as someone can be. I couldn’t think right or play my songs right (practicing) backstage,” he said.
“I stepped out on stage, knowing there were 8,000 people out there, I was still scared. Then I realized the lights were so bright I could only see the first three rows, and so it seemed about like the open mics at T-Bones. I got beat out by a girl, Alina Tatum, way better than me. I didn’t mess up, just got kicked. But that was when I decided I wanted to do music. I got a feel for a live performance.”
NOTE: Since this writing in May 2010, Dustin has met the woman of his dreams, Jacy, and married her.) Dustin has been planning this CD release party similarly to the wedding he might have helped planned had he and his fiancee not broken up last year. “When I was engaged, I was ready to settle down and have kids. I shut down (musically) during those years. I didn’t write for two years, didn’t play much. Then, when we broke up in the fall, I got back into it,” Perkins said, adding that the relationship and the breakup gave him material for several songs. “It was almost instantly, after we split up. In a month period, I wrote four songs, just like that,” he said as he snapped his fingers. “And I think four of the best I’ve ever written.”
The life experience is what several of his musical influences had talked to him about regarding his songwriting, Perkins explained. “I wrote a couple of songs at 15, but mostly covered other people’s songs. Jon (Christopher Davis) and Houston (Marchman) told me, ‘You just gotta live a little bit, man; you’re young!’”
At the age of 16 or 17, he continued to say, you don’t have the experience and you try to write something that’s not really there. “Those past eight years don’t seem that along ago, either,” Dustin said, “but I’ve grown during those years.”
It was an on-purpose thing, a plan, that he hung around and sat on stage with regional favorites, Marchman and Davis, and Zane Williams and Shawn Fussell. “They were a lot better than me,” he said. “It made me mad that they were, but it made me go home and write and try to be as good as they are. I have tried to surround myself with people like that, and I feel like my writing has come so far. You pick up something off everybody you play with. Shawn Fussell, just sitting down with him, he was a big inspiration.”
Dustin also began taking guitar lessons following the dissolution of his engagement. Here, he mentioned blues picker Jason Elmore as having been another inspiration.
“Vocally, I’ve changed from since I was 15. That would be natural, but I don’t see it much. People say my voice is stronger and clearer and more powerful now,” Dustin said. He forgot to mention the raspiness in it, almost guttural, which adds another dimension to such songs as his “Greener Pasture,” a Texas country marketable song which could also go pop. “Take That Advice” cautions against the advisability of falling for a musician, and “Whiskey and Me” has a depth of emotion to it well beyond Perkins’ 23 years.
Now that the CD is recorded and will soon be released, what is next for the young, aspiring musician? He’s looking into that, saying, “I need to get management. I know that. Picking the right one (management company) … well, I’ve heard too many horror stories about people who have paid all this money and (management) didn’t do anything for them.”
He has learned already that the music business is about 90 percent business and 10 percent music. “It doesn’t scare me, but I do have a lot to learn. The good thing is, I have a lot of guys, musicians, here to help me. Even the other night, John David (Kent) was talking to me and was really anxious to hear my stuff. He got my number and gave me his and said if I ever need anything to give him a call.” Fussell is another person he’s listening to and learning from, he said.
Then, there are record labels. So far, he’s sent the CD to several independent label companies, but has not had any responses. Distribution is important, Dustin said, and that, like management, needs to be through the right company.
Building his fan base is important too, Dustin said. At his gigs, he never sits down after a show. “I constantly make sure I say ‘Hi’ to everyone who comes in to watcher, whether I know them or not. I want to get out and mingle.” He said there are musicians who don’t believe in that approach, rather believing that they should create a mystery around themselves, always leaving the audience wanting more, but so far he hasn’t seen the strength in that philosophy.
Also on tap, but again being developed with wisdom, is the building of his own band.
The CD release party begins about 8:30 p.m. Saturday at T-Bones Bar & Grill in Denison, with most of the activities going on in the outdoor garden and from its outdoor stage.
“It’s going to be a big splash, it comes down to Saturday night now. A lot of people have never seen or heard me before, and I am eager to meet every one of them,” Dustin said.
“Performing … it’s a feeling you can’t replace, seeing the smiles and relaxation on people’s faces. I love entertaining. I have a lot of work to do, a whole whole bunch of work to do. I know that. I’ve spent the money to record the CD right, and after all these years, it is finally here, it’s exciting.”
Story and pix by Mary Jane Farmer
Last Sunday (March 6) saw eight songwriters vying for the finals of the first Rusty Wier Songwriting contest, being held at Love & War in Plano and hosted by radio station KHYI.
This contest started with numerous people entering, then , after last Sunday, those number have been whittled down to the five remaining contestants:
Dustin Perkins, Chris Schlotzhauer, Guthrie Kennard, Andrew Delaney, and Michael Psysock. But Dave Smith, Saille Brach, and Jake Bays gave these five and judges a run for their money and for the title.
None of the entrants yet knows what, if anything, the prize will be, other than the obvious honor being the final winner.
Brett Dillon, who is heading this contest, made a requirement of the contestants Sunday, in that each of them had to perform one Rusty Wier song. Of eight contestants, only one song was duplicated, that one being Perkins and Delaney both singing “I Heard You Been Laying My Old Lady.” The way both men personalized the song made each version unique from the other, and unique to the particular singer.
What that particular requirement did, was to remind everyone in the capacity crowd of what a great songwriter Rusty was. Some of the contestants, such as Schlotzhauer, had performed with Rusty in the past, and so he kept his rendition closer to Rusty’s own arrangement, but pointed out that Rusty actually didn’t write the song he did.
When it was over, Zane Williams, a judge last week, stepped on stage for a couple of songs, and through it all, Eric Beatty ran the sound system.
The contest finals are about 5 p.m. Sunday (May 13), again at Love & War in Plano. There is no admission for this contest.
Guitarist Russ Hewitt will perform this Wednesday, March 9, at Grayson County College. The performance is scheduled to begin at 12:30 pm and will be held in the GCC Black Box Theater.
Blending Latin, jazz and flamenco styles, Hewitt has conjured an oasis of hypnotic sound on “Bajo El Sol,” his long-awaited, 10-song debut solo album. The first single reached the top-20, the second single “Lydia” reached the top-15 twice on the Jazz charts and the third single “El Beso” was on the Billboard charts at No. 1. The album made the first cut for the Grammy Awards in five categories.
With over 220 show and festivals last calendar year, Russ Hewitt is ready to step into the international spotlight. Hewitt is one of several performers scheduled for the spring GCC Cultural Art Series.
For more information on the series please contact Steve O. Black, Fine Arts Chair, at email@example.com or call (903) 463-8662.
From a press release issued by Larry Joe, but here’s my promise to add to these details. This festival delivers — both music and comaraderie. Larry Joe is such a giver to the overall music scene, that other musicians jump at the chance to be a part of this event. It’s Texas music all the way, from the daytime stages through the main stage and on to the campfire stages. There’s some new names and faces and sounds blended with the familar and the famous.
Stephenville, Texas, April 26-30, 2011
|Larry Joe Taylor’s 23rd Annual
Texas Music Festival & Chili Cook-off at Melody Mountain Ranch Stephenville, TX
|The largest 5-day outdoor Texas music festival in the state will be celebrating year #23 this spring. Larry Joe Taylor’s 23rd Annual Texas Music Festival and Chili Cook-off is once again scheduled to be held at Melody Mountain Ranch just outside of Stephenville, TX April 26-30, 2011. This long-standing annual spring celebration of original music draws over 45,000 people from across the U.S. and Europe and has gained international recognition for showcasing the most talented singer/songwriters in the nation.
ENTERTAINMENT LINE UP
Tuesday April 26
City Limit Bar Stage
Welcome Jam 5:30 PM
Coors Light Campfire Stage 7:30 p.m.
Radney Foster, Larry Joe Taylor, Matt Martindale, Deryl Dodd, Dave Perez
Wednesday April 27
City Limits Bar Stage — 12 Noon
Bud Light Band Stage — 2 p.m.
Winner of Plano’s KHYI Battle of the Bands
Thursday April 28
City Limits Bar Stage — 1 a.m.
William Clark Green
Allsups Acoustic Stage – 12 Noon
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
Bud Light Band Stage — 5:10 p.m.
Cody Canada & the Departed
Josh Abbott Band
Randy Rogers Band
Friday April 29
City Limits Bar Stage — 11 a.m.
Kylie Rae Harris
Allsups Acoustic Stage — 12 Noon
Winner of 106.9 The Ranch Singer-Songwriter Showdown
Michael Hearne & South by Southwest
Bud Light Band Stage — 5 p.m.
Six Market Boulevard
Mike McClure Band
Saturday April 30
Allsups Acoustic Stage — 12 Noon
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Bud Light Band Stage —3 p.m.
The Tejas Brothers
Joe Ely Band
Jason Boland & the Stragglers
Larry Joe Taylor
City Limits Bar Stage — 11 p.m.
Cody Gill Band
Discounted Advance Tickets & Primitive Camping may be purchased online at www.larryjoetaylor.com. Reserved 30′x32′ campsites, primitive camping and tickets may also be purchased by calling the LJT Office at 254-968-8505.
For additional information, including the CASI Sanctioned Chili Cook-off on Saturday April 30, campground rules, vendors, etc., visit www.larryjoetaylor.com or call the festival office at 254-968-8505.
Story and pix by Mary Jane Farmer
The pentultimate round of the Rusty Wier songwriting contest, being coordinated by KHYI D.J. Brett Dillon at Love & War in Texas, continues Sunday, March 6, with eight semi-finalists.
Moving forward are Dustin Perkins, Saille Branch, Andrew Delaney, Guthrie Kennard, Chris Schlotzhauer, Dave Smith, Michael Prysock, and Jake Bays. In this round, each songwriter will present four original songs, plus cover the Rusty Wier song of his choice.
Here’s some of those moving on: