Concerts

A Night of STIM (Small Town Independent Music)

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Article by: Christopher Dawson

When it comes to the small towns of Texas an outsider would assume that they would only see one or two gas stations, horses and cows making their way down the streets and everyone knows everyone by name. While that isn’t exactly false when it comes to Mount Pleasant, Texas you don’t see near as many horses and cows in the streets, we have more than two gas stations, even a nice, large Walmart for all of our shopping needs and a fair amount of people will know you even if you don’t know them, this little-big Texas town offers up an interesting crop of music and musicians.

While the general majority of the East Texas population would consider themselves fans of country music that doesn’t stop metal, alternative and progressive rock, blues and even some techno from finding its way out of the minds of young musicians who then belt it out onstage at their performances. Having been born and raised in Mount Pleasant I can recall seeing a fair number of rock bands that would never get out of Titus County, but they played every show as if it were their first, last and only time in a jam packed stadium.

68a05bb3-e7c7-40e4-9569-0e0960bcf831Going down the bumpy road that leads out of Mount Pleasant proper one would find the old, faded tin building that is the town’s bowling alley. Attached to it and painted white is the now semi-popular Moonlight Lounge, which was once the Bowling Alley game room. Now round tables and short chairs border the wooden dance floor where pool tables once stood and a stage dominates the back wall with a sound board to the side. On a good night the tables are filled with beer drinking patrons ready to hear some live music, but tonight it’s a meager crowd of friends of the band. All that matters is that there is someone present to hear the music ready to be presented with enthusiasm and heart.

With a cold beer in hand I sit to the side of the stage and watch the first band take stage. Dressed in their casual clothes the band, Pig Pretty, takes center stage. A show that was supposed to start at 7:30 has now begun at 8 thanks in part to this being a normal event. The band members then put on white coats similar those worn by employees in a meat packing plant and each one wears a different hat: the bassist wears an In-and-Out cap, the drummer wears blue and white soda jerk hat, and the guitarist/front man wears a hairnet. Upon seeing this I knew that I would be in for a different experience music wise.

The heavy sounds of the drum starting up followed by a deep guitar riff and the rumble of the bass was enough to make my ears perk up and the strange, unique lyrics of songs that described dancing, ending relationships, falling back in love and meeting a Stranger, erupted from this band that reminded me of Primus because of their random song choices, out of this world presentation and desire to be different in a landscape where everyone tries to be the same or a carbon copy.

Pig Pretty played for a solid thirty minutes, maybe a little bit longer, but they allowed their desire and joy to bleed through their music. Even with a small crowd they went at it like it was a packed house. Front man Bryan McNutt showed no shame as his eyes went wide and sang loudly and proudly and drummer Tyler Beadle even took the time to stand up and give the spectators a small shimmy to display his dancing skills during the song that had to do with dancing. The bassist played bass with quiet pride and dedication. He never broke or faltered as his fingers moved from fret-to-fret and he gave the instrument the occasional slap.

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As the band was clearing off their set I was able to speak with some of the members. First I spoke with Tyler Beadle. Originally a son of Indiana, Tyler and his family moved down to the Lone Star State and he’s been playing music ever since.

What band or musician made you want to be a musician?

TB: My start as a musician wasn’t exactly inspired by another musician. I was in 8th grade and I had just moved to Texas and I was sitting at the lunch table and my friends were all talking about starting a garage band. When you’re in junior high then there’s 3 guitarists sitting around and trying to speculate who is the coolest and which song is better, like is ‘Smoke on the Water’ better than ‘Iron Man’ just 8th grade talk. I thought they were really cool and I was trying to make friends, so I asked if they had a drummer cause I wanted to learn how to play drums, but I didn’t know how. They said yeah and that summer I took two months of drum lessons and I started playing at churches and I got into rock music after that. Really it wasn’t a musician, Bob Dylan is my favorite, he isn’t a drummer.

 What is one of the most random things to happen to you during your travels as a musician?

TB: I was playing a show in Southern Texas with a band called Broken Prodigy and on the way to the show there was this flatbed truck and there was this dog in there giving birth. They were going down the interstate at 70 miles an hour and I glance over and I see this slimy looking thing jiggling and hanging and just…I saw a dog give birth in the back of a truck and it looked scared out of its mind. And that was a terrible show that day, so maybe it was an omen. Haven’t seen anything like that since.

If you weren’t involved in music what would you be involved in? What would be your main passion?

TB: Acting. I went to college for a couple of years and I acted there. I moved to Portland, Oregon and I lived there for 2 years and I worked for a company there called Broadway Rose Musical Theatre Company and I just worked as an audio tech. Working behind the scenes isn’t nearly as much fun. Music is probably the thing I’m most passionate about in life.

 Do you have any regrets? A chance you didn’t take or a missed opportunity?

TB: Not really. I’ve always been so ambitious as a drummer. I mean since I was sixteen, when I started, all I wanted to do was make a living doing my craft. Every band in a 50-mile radius that has ever asked me to play with them, so long as it’s reasonable, I’ve just always gone for it. I think that if you dip your pen in all of the companies’ ink, every single one of them, then one of them is bound to be successful. It hasn’t happened yet, probably never will, but I always try to capitalize on every single opportunity I get. I can’t say that there has been a single opportunity that I have passed up on or a band that I didn’t want to work with.

 What is your favorite memory from your time as a musician?

TB: It was at this venue (Mount Pleasant Bowling Alley) I was playing with a band called New Vestament. At the time we had a bassist named Grant Whitlock and the other members were myself, Beadle, and Dylan McNutt. We had a tip jar, but it wasn’t a jar, it was a bucket, a big, plastic bucket. We just sat it up there and we just wrote tips on it in marker. During one of the songs things got heavy. There was a breakdown and everyone was kind of feeling it. Dylan kicked the tip bucket as hard as he could and it flew right into the bassist’s face and he stopped playing for the rest of the song and he just sort of glared at everyone. I think I like that one because I see him a lot and I always bring it up.

 If you could perform with one musician/band who would it be?

TB: Adele. The highest bidder. I consider myself a musician, I guess I’m an artist, at the end of the day I just want my wallet to be really big. That’s why they call it a side project. I always thought it would be cool to be in a System of a Down cover band. That probably wouldn’t be super marketable in this day in age.

What advice would you give to an up and coming musician?

TB: Play (your music). If you want to play XBOX or PS4 that day just don’t. Play. All you gotta do is play in your basement, find some dudes and just keep playing. Really if you’re not getting then what are doing? Plateauing as a musician was probably one of the most depressing things I’ve ever gone through and you have to get out of that slump. I think that’s the best advice just keep playing, it doesn’t matter with who, and it’s not going to sound great at the beginning. You have to write 30 bad songs before your write one good one.

 What are your future hopes music wise?

TB: I’d really like to be a grandpa, or that age, and still be playing music, I guess locally. I’m never gonna stop doing this, even these shows with 20 people showing up, that’s going to be there for the rest in my life and that’s all I really want.

 What is your favorite song?

TB: My favorite song this week? I guess it would be ‘Karma Police’ by Radiohead. Maybe even ‘Hurricane’ by Bob Dylan. I like the writing and the storytelling.

 Shortly after speaking with Tyler I was able to grab a few words with his bands front man, Bryan, and his younger brother, Dylan. While Dylan isn’t a member of Pig Pretty he has his own history of music in this town. Both of them have been musicians in the Mount Pleasant area for the better part of a decade and have been the heartbeat of independent music for this town for as long as I can remember. They were able to offer up their own blend of answers to the questions asked to Tyler and display their own unique, different personalities.

What band or musician made you want to be a musician?

DM: That’s easy for me. The first that band did it for me was System of a Down. I saw them and I said that I wanted a guitar and I wanna play. I learned their first two albums and that became my obsession with them and with music.

 BM: Elton John. I mean he had great wigs. Yeah, Elton John.

 What is one of the most random things to happen to you during your travels as a musician?

DM: We had this really drunk guy at a concert and he was wanting to fight one of our friends and he was all like, ‘I’m drunk and whatever hell is it’s behind me.’ That was it and he walked off.

 BM: It was actually me. So that’s my random event. I was the guy saying that to him. I admit it.

 DM: That was a long time ago.

 BM: I admit to the altercation.

 DM: You owe my friend an apology.

 If you weren’t involved in music what would you be involved in? What would be your main passion?

BM: Crime. Cause I like dangerous things to happen. No, really, I’m a risk taker so I’d probably be involved in politics. Especially…I’m not gonna get into that.

 DM: I have several interests and music is just one of them. I love movies, like the art of movies, I love studying religion and philosophy. If I went back to school then I’d probably get a degree in religion.

 BM: If I went back to school then I would get my GED.

 Do you have any regrets? A chance you didn’t take or a missed opportunity?

BM: I regret not getting to see the Beastie Boys play in concert. I think that’s minor, but I would have loved to have seen them. Adam Yauch died and we can’t see them now. As far as regrets go, no, I think things happen for a reason and we’re here for a reason.

 DM: I guess I wish I didn’t worry so much like overthinking. I stress my own self.

 BM: I think I regret under-thinking cause I’ve made some poor decisions. (laughs) No, seriously, I have no regrets. I have a beautiful daughter, I’m a musician, that’s great. Life is good.

 What is your favorite memory from your time as a musician?

BM: Probably getting to play with my brother. It was cool and fun. He does my band, I do my band and we were in a band together. I loved it. Sharing with friends and family. Part of it is playing bigger shows and the memories. Playing and getting to meet people. That’s where the magic is. Studio is okay, but playing live and the energy, meeting people is so cool.

 DM: Yeah, what he said.

 If you could perform with one musician/band who would it be?

DM: Jimi Hendrix. To me he is just so creative and it would be so cool to jam with him.

 BM: Frank Zappa. He’d probably bust my balls and I would love the abuse. Just talking to him about philosophy would be Bob Dylan.

 What advice would you give to an up and coming musician?

BM: Play what you want to play. It doesn’t matter what people say, just play and envision what you can. Don’t look at the dollar. Look at the reward. Fans come and go. Friends come and go. If you are true to your music then it’s your best friend, your psychiatrist, your confidant. Be original. That train has done come and gone. You’ll be a copy of someone. Just be true to yourself and enjoy.

 DM: I agree with that too.

 What are your future hopes music wise?

DM: I’ll probably do this my whole life. I’m a really simple guy. I’m really simple. I’m cheap. I don’t need much. I lived off the grid. I’m not aiming to get rich. I just do it cause I like it. Yeah, that’s about it. I’m simple.

 BM: Constantly evolving. Keeping changing, keep moving forward, keep trying and working with different musicians, better musicians to make myself better. Never get stuck in a style.

 What is your favorite song?

DM: The Beatles and System of a Down are my favorites. ‘Dear Prudence’ by the Beatles is one of my favorites songs, one of the best songs ever written. To me that song never gets old to me.

 BM: Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ it’s just a work of art. The writing, the vocals, it’s a symphony. I could never write it, so I’m jealous.

Getting to speak with them was a fun experience and it showed how different their personalities are, but how their love and respect for music and themselves as musicians allowed them to come together and create. While Pig Pretty was a blend of randomness, funk and alternative rock the following musician was more straight forward with his act.

Eric Staples is an East Texan through-and-through and one of my closest friends in life. He and I first met in the Theatre Department at Northeast Texas Community College. From there we progressed into a strong friendship built upon insults, morbid humor, deep discussions and a similar taste in music. Young with shaggy blonde hair and a no-nonsense attitude many wouldn’t think Eric is a junior high teacher during the daytime hours when they see him enjoying a Camel cigarette, a cold beer and singing about his heart being broken.

Taking the stage Eric belted out song after song while being nice enough to compliment the ‘ladies’ in the room and crack a joke about the ‘rat piss’ alcohol that the bar served. His songs weren’t on the level of randomness like those of Pig Pretty, they were similar in being full of past experiences and the pain of loss or the happiness of gain. Two of his songs stuck out: Mr. Nobody and Faithful.

Mr. Nobody covered the pain of his divorce and how he walked the line of decision as to whether he should continue to pursue his dreams of being a musician or dedicating his time and life to making a better home for his daughter. Faithful covered the hypocrisy many people have as they attack others even though they themselves are guilty of the shameful acts their targets have committed.

Eric’s set was a simple acoustic presentation. When he had finished I was able to sit with him and ask my questions while also catching up on lost time. The two of us hadn’t been able to sit down and talk for the better part of a year and it was good being able to catch up.

What band or musician made you want to be a musician?

ES: Keith Richards. Yeah, that’s terrible isn’t it? Mostly because Keith Richards smokes cigarettes cooler than anyone else in the world. So I wanted to be as cool as Keith Richards, but to do that I had to learn how to play guitar.

 What is one of the most random things to happen to you during your travels as a musician?

ES: When you said that one thing came to mind. We were playing at a benefit for a guy that had passed away to raise money for his funeral and we had a woman throw several beer bottles at us while we were onstage. She was about 75-80 years old is why that is so memorable and all the while she was heckling the band. Yeah, that was an adventure.

 If you weren’t involved in music what would you be involved in? What would be your main passion?

ES: Probably my family. I’ve got a kid. I’ve got a baby and that takes up a lot of my time. If I didn’t do music right now I’d just be a full time dad and I’d be an employee somewhere making money.

 Do you have any regrets? A chance you didn’t take or a missed opportunity?

ES: Yeah, I regret not traveling more. I went to Dallas/Ft. Worth a bunch of times and the Tyler area. With it being Texas you gotta drive 4 hours to get anywhere, so I’ve driven just about everywhere, but I regret not doing it more and traveling while I could.

 What is your favorite memory from your time as a musician?

ES: Opening for the Bart Crow band cause they chickened out of their set cause it was raining. We played in the rain with our paltry $6000 worth of equipment and we played in the pouring rain. The whole time we played they were setting up tents for Bart Crow to play under and we heckled Bart Crow while they played. That’s probably my favorite memory.

 If you could perform with any band/musician who would it be?

ES: Rolling Stones because they’re gonna continue to tour until they decompose. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden but I don’t know how much longer they’ll be on the road as a group.

 What advice would you give to an up and coming musician?

ES: Drop everything. Dump your girlfriend, drop out of school, do nothing but play guitar, do nothing but take every opportunity you can to do it. Drop everything. Drop everything and run. That’s the only way to make it. It’s the only way to do what do: have no obligations, nothing to tie you down, no responsibilities and no excuses.

What are your future hopes music wise?

ES: Just do it as often as I can. I just love to play. I’m doing this (gig) as a favor to some friends, but I snatch up any little thing, coffee house, dive bar, that I can because I love to play and that’s what it takes.

 What is your favorite song?

ES: My favorite song this week? Probably ‘Hail, Hail’ by Pearl Jam. Because it’s really kind of avant-garde, it’s a love song, if you were to hear it outright it doesn’t sound anything like a love song. I love ability to transcend what an emotion is supposed to be into something cohesive to you or to you as an individual. If love is chaotic to you then you write a chaotic love song. If that is what makes sense. Pearl Jam does that very, very nicely in all of their music.

 The night ended after that and I made my way home. That night I was able to witness the different styles and attitudes and mindsets of how music should be presented and experienced by the audience and the musician. Despite this being a little hick town the love for music far outreaches the expected genre of country and envelops those that consider themselves detached from society, the odd, the creative, the thinkers and the brave. They sit together at their high school lunch tables because the gift of music has formed a link between them and allowed them to come together through love and understanding. Music brought them together and allowed them to turn what could have been a boring Saturday night into one full of fun and difference. It was proof that while small in crowd the desire to be different and play the music you love isn’t small, but the size of a mountain and there is more than just country music going on in Mount Pleasant, Texas.

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Categories: Concerts, Reviews

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