Shy Blakeman is an old soul who portrays his own bold, free spirited brand of music on Long Distance Man, his acclaimed third studio album. Blakeman successfully melds together all the rural sounds from below the Mason-Dixon line in order to create an unexpected style that is so unique, that it's hard to define it by one genre. But don't be mistaken, it all still feels within the realm of what music is and used to be. This ambitious sound developed organically from a musical heritage in Wyoming, California and East Texas, added to years spent in Nashville, New York and LA collaborating with an eclectic group of some of music's biggest stars and modern legend musicians.
Shy Blakeman to Record a "Live at Billy Bob's Texas" Album!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORT WORTH, TX (May 21, 2012) – Shy Blakeman & The Converts have won the second annual Live at Billy Bob’s Texas Recording Contest. Shy, a Kilgore, TX native, received the most votes after two rounds of voting. Shy was nominated by KHKX in Midland, TX. “I could not be more humbled by all the support of my fans and friends that voted not only once but in both rounds” said Blakeman. “There is no way I ever thought I would be among the legendary artists that recorded a Live at Billy Bob’s Texas Album. It is an honor to be listed among the greats."
Shy wins a “Live at Billy Bob’s Texas” recording contract with Smith Music Group. He will be the 43rd artist to record a Live at Billy Bob’s Texas album and will join the ranks of Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Gary Stewart, David Allan Coe, Pat Green, Jack Ingram, Kevin Fowler, Stoney LaRue, Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen.
Shy and his band will perform at Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic and record his “Live at Billy Bob’s Texas” album/DVD on Friday, July 6th at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk, located in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Smith Music Group produces The Live at Billy Bob’s Texas music series. The Live at Billy Bob’s Texas series has sold over 2 Million CDs and includes over 200 #1 Billboard hits.
Shy Blakeman Opens For Bob Seger
Shy Blakeman Opens for Bob Seger and wows crowd of 15,000!
Shy Blakeman never imagined he would be playing in an arena filled with 15,000 people, much less performing the opening act for a man he grew up singing along with, but that's exactly what happened one day last month when Detroit rocker Bob Seger was heading to Houston. Shy was working hard laying tile one Friday morning in Arlington when he got an unexpected call from his booking agency. Shy, used to playing the bars and icehouses on the Texas circuit, was more than a little surprised when they asked him if he could open for Seger the following night at Houston's Toyota Center. Frankie Ballard, who was scheduled to open for Seger, had canceled at the last minute and they needed someone to fill the half-hour spot. Without missing a beat, Blakeman scrambled to get a band together for the show, as his own band had prior engagements, and called his parents to tell them to make plans to get to Houston the next day because he would be opening for Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band, oh, and those 15,000 fans.
As surprised as he was for the call from Seger’s people, Shy Blakeman is no stranger to the music scene. His music career began at 22 when Shy saved up $600 to make a record for himself. His first album, Downtown Women, includes a duet with friend Miranda Lambert, "Crying in Your Sleep," and features Texas musicians Gary P. Nunn and Rusty Weir.
Blakeman's second album, The Southern Roots Revival, made an even bigger dent in the Texas music scene. His cover of Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" landed on the charts as a Top 10 Texas single, three other songs ended up in the Top 20s and the album was nominated for Record of the Year at the Texas Music Awards.
He then made his mark on NBC/USA's "Nashville Star" where his song choices that came from the likes of Weir and Shooter Jennings made him a standout against the other contestants whose music was culled from mainstream country artists. Shy’s decision to choose music close to his own influences and his refusal to pick the conventional song choices led to interest from the management group and record producers in Nashville after he left the show. While Shy’s distinctive music preferences were what led to the interest in him as an artist, issues arose when Shy realized how the producer wanted to cultivate his image and turn him into a more mainstream act, “an edgier version of Keith Urban.”
Shy's refusal to be what the music business wanted to turn him into incited him to walk away from the developmental deal altogether. Blakeman says of the experience, “It gave me the confidence to say ‘These are some of the biggest cats in Nashville and they see that potential in me. I’ve been myself the whole time and I didn’t try to put my square peg in a circle hole. I found myself and that’s what they loved about it.’”
When speaking about leaving Nashville and its opportunities behind, Shy sounds quite happy to be doing it all on his terms: “My heart is playing the music that I'm playing, not mainstream country or where they wanted to take me as far as mainstream country." He appears thankful for the experience and made good friends with some of country music’s biggest stars including The Muzik Mafia of Big & Rich, Kid Rock, Gretchen Wilson and Hank Williams, Jr.
While the choice to walk away from a deal like that could not have been an easy one to make, Shy figured it like this: “Either way, in five years I’m going to be broke, so I can be broke doing something i absolutely hate and portraying myself as somebody I’m absolutely not, or I can be broke and play the music I love every night and be myself. I chose to be broke and be myself."
After making friends and contacts with those in the Nashville music scene, Shy eventually headed back home to Texas where he teamed up with Ted Russell Kamp to produce his third album, Long Distance Man. Blakeman says of Kamp, "he helped me find what I loved about music, what made me fall in love with music, what made me become a musician and want to follow this dream. We got to capture that on this album."
On completing the album the way he wanted it done and then eventually playing it for Bob Seger’s crowd at one of Houston’s largest concert venues, Shy says, "I'm so excited that I got to do it this way and do it on my own terms and then go and present those songs in front of 15,000 people like that. I never thought in a million years that I would ever play an arena show like that and then get the reception that I did. It's still kind of surreal."
With a myriad of influences including Ray Charles, John Fogerty, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder, not surprisingly his music doesn't fit in one specific genre. This is often a problem when trying to find a radio station to play his music on the air. Blakeman feels that Texas radio djs are often "afraid of the music differences" in his musical style and that any efforts in playing it to their audience might not go down so well. Shy says, “I’m really trying to do something different than what's going on in Texas right now...I feel I have different influences so my style of music is a little bit different." Blakeman does think that people are “finally starting to give it a chance” but still he finds it difficult at times getting his music out there to be heard, saying, "It's quite challenging to bring in that same demographic that the Texas music scene has but I still have to utilize the same radio stations and the same venues.
When asked to describe his music and how he would categorize it, Shy says simply, “Good music.” He continues, “I think music is music. There’s everything from Waylon to The Beatles to Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Elton John all on this album, all mixed in. It’s really a melting pot and everything I love about music. That’s all I can really call it is good music. If somebody thinks it’s country, great. If somebody calls it Americana or roots rock, let them call it roots rock. If somebody thinks it’s R&B, let them call it that. Let them call it whatever they want as long as they like it.”
Shy’s dream of a life making and singing music became a reality after a life changing event happened to him in 2003, an event that he barely escaped with his life. After playing his first full gig at Port David’s Pub in Dallas, he was sitting in the passenger seat of a friend's car while leaving the show when a mugger thrust a .38 inside the car. Shy struggled with the gunman in an attempt to take the gun when the gun went off during the struggle. The shot sent a bullet tearing through his chin, ricocheting into his neck and severing his jugular artery before bouncing off his heart, lungs and ribs and then landing in his shoulder. Luck was on his side that night, and Shy was saved by an ambulance that happened to be two blocks away. He lost his fear of failure that night, woke up the next day and decided to go for it. His song “Save a Little Room” is about the near fatal experience. “When you’re faced with something like that you just seriously realize how short life is and how easy it is to waste it and be unhappy doing it. And I just refuse to do that. This is what makes me happy, this is my dream and this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life, come hell or high water until I achieve my goals.”
A big part of what kept him from going full steam ahead in the hopes of a full-time music career was his insecurities, which took on a whole new light after the incident. He says, “I guarantee you, five years ago there’s no way in hell I would have had the courage to get up in front of Bob Seger, last minute, 15,000 people. There’s no way. I couldn’t have done it....Dealing with (being shot) and a lot of things that it brought up and realizing a lot of things about myself and being able to look at myself honestly, if it wasn’t for that guy and that situation, I could have let my insecurities get the best of me. Once you’ve looked at yourself and realized where a lot of that anger and pain comes from and you deal with it, how can you hold anyone else responsible for that?”
Shy’s talent and integrity in not only pursuing his dream, but doing it completely on his own terms shows through in his music style and it’s beginning to pay off big time. Shy still plays at small venues throughout Texas and when he’s not playing music, he’s still laying tile. His feedback from the Seger show has been overwhelmingly positive and he’s booking more dates, especially here in Houston. His CD,Long Distance Man, is available on his website for download for free. Yes, that's right, for free. There’s not even a good reason not to check it out.