About Pat O’Bryan
The new album, “Boomer’s Last Stand,” was released 12/10/20.
I wrote and made demos of the songs in my studio, which is in the kitchen of the off-the-grid cabin I share with my wife in the desert near Terlingua, Texas.
Last March, the country shut down. We thought it best to stay home, so I had plenty of free time. While the pandemic roared out in the real world, I set up a small studio on a table in our kitchen.
The first song I wrote was “Satisfied,” which Elizabeth Lee sings on the album.
I’ve known Elizabeth since 1998 or so, and we’ve played many a gig together here and in Europe. Her sultry (no other word will do) voice fit that song perfectly.
The writing came easily, which is unusual. I haven’t written a song in years. Knowing I had all the time in the world helped, I think. Who knows when it will be safe to go outside again?
As I finished each song, I put a demo online and played them for some friends. They were uniformly positive in their response, so I kept writing.
Beppe Facchetti, an old buddy from Brescia, Italy, offered to record drums at a studio in Brescia.
I met Beppe in the early 2000’s while I was on tour in Europe and he was playing drums in Elizabeth Lee’s band, also on tour.
Now, Beppe is 1/2 of the power- blues duo SuperDownhome. Superdownhome has several albums out and is a major concert draw in Europe. 12/17 SuperDownhome signed with Dixie Frog records!
I sent the files to Michele Marelli at Monolith studio in Brescia, and he and Beppe sent back some amazing drum tracks.
I met Carolyn Wonderland in the early 90’s and was immediately blown away by her talent, her confidence, and her hard-headedness, all of which have served her well. She’s currently playing guitar in John Mayall’s band.
She offered to play guitar on the song, “She Looks Just Like You.” Carolyn recorded her blistering lead at her house in Austin.
Larry Chaney and I go back to 1998. He’s a former Nashville studio musician who played with Tracy Nelson many years ago- which is about a close to having your “cool card” punched as it gets. He’s been in Edwin McCain’s band for years and runs a recording studio in Dripping Springs, Texas, (Jamb Kitchen Records) which is where he and Elizabeth recorded their parts.
That’s Larry on lead guitar on “Satisfied.”
Chase Peeler recorded his saxophone part on “In Your Arms Again” somewhere in Colorado.
Chase lived in Terlingua while working on his Doctoral Thesis and played in several local bands, including mine. He also played on my last album, “Uncle Pat’s Imaginary Blues Band.”
Allan McGinty, who I’ve known for 48 years and have played hundreds of gigs with, played bass on “(D’ya Evah) Feel Like That?” with Ace Pepper at the controls.
After the guest musicians had emailed me their parts, I spent a couple of months finishing, mixing, and mastering the album. Again, I had all the time in the world. No deadlines.
It is available at: Amazon, Anghami, Apple Music, MediaNet, Deezer, Instagram/Facebook, Google Play/YouTube, iHeartRadio, ClaroMusica, iTunes, KKBox, Napster, NetEase (beta), Pandora, Saavn, Spotify, Tencent (beta), Tidal, TikTok/Resso, Triller (beta), and Soundtrack by Twitch
History: I started picking out tunes on the piano when I was eight and got my first guitar when I was ten. It’s been non-stop since then.
I started playing bars with local bands when I was fifteen and by the time I was sixteen I was in a band with some older guys. I played a ’72 Fender Telecaster, a black-face Vibrolux, and a Farfisa Combo Campact organ. I wish I still had those.
We had a white van and matching gray sparkle Kustom tuck and roll amps. We played bars in Houston and Pasadena, including dives near the ship channel where I got bit by a Greek Sailor’s monkey. I dropped out of high school and headed for the big time.
After a brief stint as a street hippie (by then, I had a Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes piano, no car and occasionally no home), I snuck into North Texas State University as a music composition major based on a piano audition and decent S.A.T. scores.
That’s where I discovered electronic music and, more importantly, the electronic music laboratory. N.T.S.U. had the third (I was told) modular Moog synth, a couple of tape recorders, and a door that locked.
I bounced between that room and the music library, where the interns would cue up records that I could listen to over headphones… early Pandora… that’s where I discovered Stockhausen, early electronic music, the Fluxus group, John Cage, Subotnik (I later played a concert with him in Austin)… I’d take these amazing, revolutionary ideas (everything is music, melody is a much more interesting concept than I’d been told previously, virtuosity is not necessary or even preferable…) I also discovered Lao Tsu, Chuang Tsu, Alan Watts, Gary Snyder… these things are all connected.
The whole time I was having my mind blown with modern music I was playing with a Western Swing band around Fort Worth, Dallas, Stephenville… heavy hitters who could play Bob Wills music note for note and believed every note they played.
I also co-owned and co-created “Laser Magic,” the first laser light show outside of California. We had an ongoing show at the Burke-Baker Planetarium in Fort Worth.
After four years of this, I sent a demo tape to the head of the electronic music department at the University of Texas and was offered a spot in the grad program, making me possibly the only grad student at U.T. with neither a college or high school diploma.
The U.T. lab had a few different synths and a huge reverb drenched recording space, and I had a blast making noises, making feedback and re-recording that, playing with found sounds…
I also got a gig writing jingles for a local recording studio and joined a local rock band that was managed by Bill Hamm’s Lone Wolf Productions. We were pretty good, and started getting opening slots: Heart, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top (of course)… After a couple of years at U.T. I had to make a choice: was I going to do the academic composer/professor thing or be a musician?
The chance for an extended tour opening for Cheap Trick sorted that one out for me and I’ve never looked back.
The local band got signed by a major label but I didn’t. I just couldn’t sign Bill Hamm’s management contract. No f’n way. Ask Eric Johnson about that contract.
In the background, I was still playing with country cover bands to pay the bills. Waiting tables. Working day labor. I played lead guitar with Hank Thompson on a flatbed truck at a rodeo in Snook Texas, VFW halls and honky tonks all over Texas, and did some session work in Austin.
One night I was out drinking at the Continental Club and W.C. Clark was playing. The band was HOT, but to be honest, his keyboard player kinda sucked, and I mentioned this to W.C. He suggested I sit in and do better if I could.
I did, and he fired his keyboard player and hired me that night. That’s how they do it in East Austin.
Back to school, but this time it was a different school. Smoky East Austin bars, hookers and pimps at the BBQ place on 7th street, junkie bass player, scary chicks who really enjoyed talking dirty to the young white kid…
And the music. That was the best band I’d ever played in. On a good night, that was the best band I’ve ever heard. Frosty on drums, Skipper on Bass, W.C., Breeno on horns (which his blonde girlfriend would bring in from the car, assemble, and hand to him. She never said a word). The East Side horns. Whether we were opening for B.B. King at the Austin Opry House or playing the Austin Outhouse, it was about the music and I was, by far, the weakest link – which is a great place to be.
Not only did I learn from the band, I learned from the guys and gals who sat in. Sitting at my keyboards a foot away from Stevie Ray Vaughan while he played “Texas Flood” in Antones, jamming with Hubert Sumlin and the other Chicago players who came through Antone’s and were ready to sit in after a visit with Clifford… the local all-stars: Doug Sahm, the Fabulous T-Birds, Angela Strehli, Tommy Shannon, Denny Freeman, Derek O’Brien, Reese and Riley on keys… I did my time in the Antone’s “Monday Night” house band.
Then, it was time to get away from the temptations of Austin.
I spent the early 90’s running a recording studio in Houston and honing my vocal and guitar chops. Producing and playing on hundreds of CDs with the likes of Peppermint Harris, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Albert Collins, Joey Long, Johnny Winter… playing bass with Carolyn Wonderland and the Hightailers… either under my own name or my nom de blues, “Sideways Sumlin.” I recorded “Sideways Sumlin’s Greatest Hits Volume 2” in 1996 and am constantly surprised at how well ol’ Sideways’ songs do in the blues world- especially in Europe and Japan.
Just now, I was searching Amazon for CD covers to post here and discovered that somebody is repackaging those old tracks- and I’m on a new compilation CD with Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, and some others…
After a serious dose of the blues, I moved with my son to Wimberley, Texas where I set up my recording gear and grabbed some neighbors- Stephen Bruton, David Grissom, Jules Alexander from The Association, Keith Carper from Hal Ketchum and Kris Kristofferson’s band, Andres Cantisani, and some others- and made my first CD under my own name, “…of Trains and Angels.”
It did well for an indie release, and led to quite a bit of touring around Texas.
About a year later, I was surfing the ‘net and discovered that a German label had “appropriated” one of my songs and put it on a European compilation CD with Willie Nelson and a few other big country names… apparently, I was now a “country” artist.
I sued them.
After the dust settled, the label decided they’d rather give me a 5-CD deal than get sued. Around the same time I met and started playing some gigs in the Hill Country with Elizabeth Lee who had been touring in Germany for quite a while. She introduced me to her agent, and I found myself with a German record deal and a German agent.
I spent the next few years playing in Europe. The German label was terrible at paying royalties but they had great distribution. One day I walked into the HMV CD store in London and discovered that they not only had my latest CD, they were carrying my entire catalog.
By 2005, it was time to come in off the road.
A chance meeting with a famous motivational speaker led to a very cushy gig writing New Age music for motivational CDs and videos, and I spent the next few years in Wimberley, Texas doing that, writing a few books, and raising my son.
In 2013, I moved to my off the grid cabin in the desert just North of Terlingua, Texas and took some time off to explore the Big Bend of Texas, Northern Mexico, and study with the philosophers on the porch in Terlingua. I also produced a few CDs for some local songwriters which turned out nicely. On those CDs, I played everything but fiddle on one and Sax on the other.
In 2015, I recorded “Uncle Pat’s Imaginary Blues Band- the Terlingua Bootlegs,” on which I played everything but Sax. It’s done real well in Belgium, France and Holland. I was briefly tempted to tour behind it, but, no.
A chance meeting with a refugee from network reality shows who was also taking a sabbatical in Terlingua led me to realize that I was uniquely qualified to write music for TV and video.
And so a new adventure began, It was an almost complete failure. I placed a few dozen tunes in videos and indie films, but the competition kicked my ass- music library work is the last refuge for those too old or not interested in touring, so the finest musicians on the planet- tens of thousands of them- are competing for the same very limited number of opportunities.
It’s now the time of the pandemic, and I’m isolating in my desert cabin with my wife. We’re in our ninth month of isolation, now. A cabin 30 miles from the nearest town and 3 miles from the nearest paved road is not a bad place to hide from COVID-19, and Costco, Amazon, and several fresh veggie services deliver via UPS right to our front door.
I have tequila and wine.
I’m using the down time to write and record a new album. I’ve got some fine co-conspirators- a drummer in Italy, a fine singer in Wimberley, a bass player in San Marcos- I’ll be looking for a sax player, and in this new, high-tech world, he/she can be anywhere on the planet.
(Update) That album, “Boomer’s Last Stand,” was released 12/10/20.