Podcast – The Inspiring Rise of Brandon Rhyder

LISTEN HERE: http://www.sanangelolive.com/audio/download/2423/Brandon_Rhyder_sjt.mp3

The Brandon Rhyder story is inspiring. The University of Texas-Tyler graduate with a B.S. in Industrial Technology picked up a guitar in 1997. An accomplished trombone player in high school, he turned down several music scholarships to college because, according to his official biography, he didn’t want to be a band director. But the guitar re-opened the creative door back to his high school days in Carthage, Texas.

I have interviewed Rhyder twice now and found him smart, talented and very thoughtful. His songs are complex and flow through a fairly wide vocal range. He nails the notes every time. When talking to him, you realize quickly from where the poetry and music come. And this music gig is his love. His passion for the art is impossible to ignore.

In 2005, however, Rhyder was nearing the end of the line. His two previously released albums weren’t lifting his career. He was touring with a heavy schedule, but Rhyder the performer didn’t seem to catch on. “I tried to force-feed it,” he explained to Lynne Margolis in an earlier interview. “I felt like I had to fit in a scene, like I had to fit in this box to be recognized.”

Rhyder was going to abandon his dream of music and go instead into the workplace using his engineering degree. For any man to give eight years of his life sacrificing everything to pursue a dream only to fail is tragic. (In the Podcast, I asked about his earlier albums, and he shrugged the question off. He is clearly looking forward now.)

The Brandon Rhyder Band. From left: Charlie Richards, lead guitar; James Hertless, bass and backup vocals; Ron D’Argenio, keyboards; Mike Henretty, Drums. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

At the bottom of his career, someone saw potential in Rhyder and backed him to release a third album, Conviction. Rhyder calls it his final, last-ditch effort. He vowed to his family that if this run at music success didn’t bear fruit, he’d hang up his dream of music forever. But with Texas music legend Walt Wilkins producing the album, it was a strong last-ditch effort.

Conviction was a departure from his previous two albums. Rhyder compiled a new band and bore more of his soul in the songs. But more important than that, one song off that album became a runaway success for him. According to Rhyder, inspiration for that song, “Freeze Frame Time,” was found on an early morning dove hunt with his father-in-law in 2004. As the sun rose, someone on the same hunt was playing a recording of a girl singing “Amazing Grace” a cappella. “I was sitting there thinking if I could stay in this moment for a while longer than it was going to last, that would be really cool if I could ‘Freeze Frame Time,’” Rhyder said. “It was also in anticipation of having a baby,” he said. In the song, he mentions a boy, but at the time, he didn’t know the sex of the child his wife, Kelli, was expecting. The song connected to all ages and was one of the many songs off Conviction that catapulted him to success, and it has been a great upward ride ever since then.

Brandon Rhyder in concert. Left, Charlie Richards on lead guitar, Brandon Rhyder, and James Hertless on bass. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)

Other popular titles off Conviction are the title track, “Man of Conviction,” the love song “Let the Good Times Roll,” and the bluesy “Back Roads.” In another interview, Rhyder said that the first concert he saw was Hank Williams Jr. in Shreveport, La. “Back Roads” could be considered heavily influenced by the Hank Jr. hit, “A Country Boy Can Survive,” including using the technique of tuning the top E string on the guitar down to a D.

Rhyder toured heavily promoting Conviction, and by August 2007, had attracted another famous Texas musician, Radney Foster to produce Brandon Rhyder Live. Foster the producer gave another Texas country act, Randy Rogers, a huge boost too. Foster and Rhyder are now working on a follow-up studio album.

Rhyder is looking for a major label too. But, Rhyder said, breaking into Nashville now is more difficult because he already has a touring and record business that is self-sustaining.

In the meantime, Rhyder signed a songwriting contract with the prestigious Nashville-based Harlan Howard Publishing Co. This is the same home of songwriters that have penned hits for Faith Hill, Martina McBride and others.

Brandon Rhyder (wearing the shades) and old friend, Wade Bowen, enjoying a quiet moment between sets at the 2007 Concho River Music Fest. (LIVE! Photo/Mark Kneubuhl)

So now, after almost throwing in the towel, Brandon Rhyder is still touring and he has a day job writing music too. Ah, the fruits of a lot of labor. And it wasn’t easy.

On the Podcast, Rhyder performs “Freeze Frame Time” and talks about the inspiration behind it. Next he performs his current hit, “Home Again.” This song, co-written in Nashville with fellow Texan Jon Randall is about Rhyder’s experiences growing up in the small town near Carthage, Tex. The third song probably hasn’t been heard except for his live shows. It is called “Fingers to the Bone.” Written only a month ago, it is a tribute to anyone’s parents. For Rhyder, however, the song takes on additional meaning. His father was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a week ago.

Rhyder was in San Angelo performing at Blaine’s Pub (10 W. Harris St, San Angelo) Saturday, November 17. He packed the house.

Performing with Rhyder was his very talented band, including Charlie Richards, lead guitar; Mike Henretty, drums; Ron D’Argenio, keyboards; and James Hertless, bass. Hertless also sings most of the high harmony for Rhyder.

Brandon Rhyder Live, the CD that contains all of Rhyder’s best songs, is available on iTunes (click here to sample)


2 Responses to “Podcast – The Inspiring Rise of Brandon Rhyder”

  1. […] The inspiring rise of Brandon Rhyder. His first two albums failed to boost his career and he took one last stab with his third album–the Walt Wilkins produced Conviction. […]

  2. This link has moved to http://www.sanangelolive.com/podcasts

    And there are a whole lotta interviews there too.

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