The cowboys of old were true adventurers. Horsemen, good with a gun, risk-takers, with a drive to work hard. Dan Dyer is a modern day cowboy with many of the same traits of those old West cowboys. Musician, welder, builder, songwriter, baseball player, father, and adventurer. His work ethic makes him a jack of all trades.
Originally from a small East Texas town obsessed with football, Dan met someone a couple of years older than him who became great friend – Wes Berrgeren (who went on to found the band Tripping Daisy). Wes was different than the rest. He wore his hair different and played and listened to different music. “That was the first time I had seen or even considered becoming a musician. Even if I was not interested in music, it was a mind blowing experience to see so much talent in a human being. It was easy to be inspired.” That friendship inspired Dan to pursue music. In the 90’s Dan was in the band Breedlove. He eventually moved to New York and became one of the top session players, recording with Lenny Kravitz along the way.
Eventually, Dan’s adventurer ways brought him back to Texas, a little burnt out on music. His adventurer ways took him to welding and construction. Dan met up with a fellow adventurer, Jack Sanders, who runs Design Build Adventure which helps people build their dreams with a collaborative process. It has evolved into camps that focus on the creative process in all areas, including songwriting, folk art, and yoga. That creative environment has helped him grow as a craftsman and artist. “Part of the reason I started working with Jack is because building something is the equivalent of writing a song and that interest me.”
Dan’s adventure in music has taken him through many evolutions, but just recently, Dan feels like he has finally connected with his roots. “Growing up in small town East Texas, the only music I remember hearing was country music and classic rock. Growing up when I did, I consider it the worst musical time to grow up. It was all glam rock. It wasn’t growing up with the Rolling Stones. And unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that was the music I was into at the time. It took me basically the rest of my life to exorcise it out of my system and get back to the roots of what that music was based on. Eventually I came back to what I was raised on. Anything you’ve been subjected to as a kid is probably the first thing you try to rebel against. I only feel like I’ve come in to myself as a songwriter in the last five years, which is crazy, but also kind of cool. That’s crazy, but I feel like I can handle it like a real adult. Even the bad music is based on great music. And that’s my optimism in saying that if you can recognize that at some point and then decide to chech out the roots where comes from, then there is hope. You might discover Stevie Wonder or Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson. The most important this is to enjoy music. The point is not to please everybody. The point is to express yourself and speak to those that are listening to you.”
“When you are sitting around a campfire with a bunch of non-musicians, you can get a read on people really quickly. It’s different. No one gives a….. You just really have to play a good song. Maybe in the most brutal way. I don’t play cover songs. All of my heroes wrote their own songs. I don’t feel like any of my heroes would play somebody else’s song in that moment. They would play their own song. And a lot of those songs became iconic and the songs we want to hear today. And my thought is – I want to write those songs.”
For Dan, he is inspired by the classics. “I listen to a lot of old music. Mainly because there is so much of it and I haven’t heard it all. That doesn’t mean there isn’t great music out there right now. The problem is there is so much out there right now it’s hard to get to the new good stuff. I know the old names so typically I go back to those. I hear new stuff from the old songwriters all the time. There are artist out there at this moment that are way ahead of me because I came to this late. I’m hearing artist where I didn’t hear it before and now I get it – Hayes Carll, John Fullbright, Dustin Welch. Even people obvious people like John Prine and Butch Hancock. It’s finally ringing true to me and I get it – finally.”
Dan’s adventurer ways teamed him up with a group of baseball playing guys, including Design Build Adventure friend, Jack Sanders. The baseball team, The Texas Playboys, is a “social aid and pleasure club” that travels to play other groups. In 2013, the team took him to Alabama where he met some gentlemen who had a record label in Muscle Shoals. They knew Dan as a welder and baseball player who occasionally played guitar. “After the game, when we were shaking hands, the catcher said ‘Hey man. I’ve got a record label here in town. Would you like to come and make a record? Of course I said yes but inside I was like, ‘How many times have I heard this? That will never happen.’ But I had nothing to lose. A couple weeks later he called me and told me he was serious. I do believe the moment you truly don’t care anymore is when things start happening.” Dan traveled back to Muscle Shoals several months later to record the Singing River Sessions.
In talking about the songs on the album, we spoke about the songwriting process, specifically about the wonderful song, Crows In Black. “I don’t remember how I wrote it. I kind of remember the process. It was one of those songs that happened fast. I write every day. I’m not a person that waits for inspiration. My mentors are novelist. Real writers. Their advice that I follow is to get up, pick up your instrument, and write. It’s very ritualistic and businesslike. It’s an everyday process. Most of the stuff you write is absolute s**t. But that doesn’t matter because it’s the practice of writing. Just like anything, you get better at it. Crows in Black was just another one of those songs.”
Dan Dyer will be at the Cultural Activities Center on Saturday, April 30th with his band, The Texas Gentlemen. CnJ BBQ food truck will be on hand. PURCHASE SHOW TICKETS ONLINE HERE