Beej - Keys, Rhythm Guitar & Vocals
So I'm sitting in science class and this guy behind me is playing some songs on a tape that he and his bandmates recorded on a fostex 8 channel recorder. Pretty cool, so I ask him (Alan) if they need a keyboard player. I pretty much bugged the crap out of him till he let me come over and jam. Been playing with them ever since! Alan, Bryan Bell, and James had formed a Christian rock band named Messenger. I joined them in my sophomore year at Moore High School. (Yep, we are all Moorons!) The guys called me Beej cause of my initials and since we had two Bryan's in the band, it keep us separate.
Now, I am not musically trained. Heck, I can't even read music, but I have an ear! Give me a tune and I will have it picked out pretty darn quick. I was introduced to the black and whites by my Grandpa Jones when I was 6 or 7. He had a huge Wurlitzer organ with drawbars and pedals and a real leslie rotary speaker. He tought me to play "It's a Small World" and my Nana's favorite song "Spanish Eyes." The rest I tought myself. As far as guitar goes, my Grandpa Barnhart gave me an old Kawai guitar that I strummed around on, but I really loved going to his house and playing his Gibson. Man, what a sweet sounding guitar! Since his passing, I now keep that guitar next to my bed and play it all the time.
During the Messenger years, we were like your ordinary garage band, chucking out three chord songs all in the same key but hey, we were rockin and thought we were the hottest thing since sliced bread! We had mullets and t-shirts and everything!
Us in all our coolness The STAR!!!
The Infamous COW Shirt (ugh) Metro Friday Nights!
I still remember our first show at the Edmond Metro Church. We took the stage and the next thing I knew, we were done and people were clapping and cheering! We were ROCK STARS!!!! We played the local church youth group circuit and slowly but surely started to develop our sound. Our lyrics and music became much more complex. Then we found out that the name Messenger was already taken... So we changed our name to Dominion. We recorded two albums, Stand On The Rock and Dominion and we were playing really tight. We were featured on local radio, playing all the time, and I was now a sophomore at OU. Then we played at the State Fair and as we finished our show, a guy comes up to us and wants us to be an opening act for a band he manages that is going on a small tour of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Could this be our shot? We looked at each other and realized that we all had too much going on in our lives to just pick up and leave...jobs, school, families. And so the hiatus began. We just kinda stopped playing. We kept in touch with each other when big life events happened...one of us got married, one of us had a kid. Then one day I was tailgating down in Norman before an OU game when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Alan and James! DUDES!!! What's up!!! We talked for a while and suggested that we get the families together for a BBQ, break out the axes and see what happens. Man that was fun! It was amazing to see after all that time what came back to us (and what we forgot!) But we vowed to get together once a month and goof around. Once a month turned into once a week, playing covers and music that we grew up listening to. One night, Bell throws it out there that we can probably play some bars and make some coin... Hmmm we need a name! It started as a spoof but I think it was James that spouted out BROWN NOTE. It just stuck (along with all the jokes as you can imagine.) We put together a set list and got a gig at a little bar down in Noble, OK. That was the re-birth of our band.
Now, we have a huge repetoire of songs and have built up an impressive list of gear. We are tighter that ever and have written a handful of originals. We book about once or twice a month, cause we all have families and real jobs. Another benefit to our age is that we are more mature and have lost our ego's. Not to say we don't have a spat here and there, but we don't have to be the loudest, and realize that the sum is better than the parts. We can critique each other without getting bent out of shape and that is what makes us better. It's all about having fun and nothing is more fun for me than putting on a good show! Alan, Bryan and James are my brothers in arms and I wouldn't play with anyone else!
When people ask me about the band, this is what I tell them - We may not be the best musicians, but what we do have is CHEMISTRY!!! When you come to a Brown Note show you will feel the energy and have fun! When we are on, I challenge you to find a local band that is as good as us! I promise that you will have a good time!
My musical influences are a bit different than the other guys. The music I was exposed to was a bit newer and really don't remember listening to much rock and roll before "Hi-Infidelity." Next came Def Leppard and then hair metal bands. The guys tease me a bunch for not knowing who was in Led Zepplin, but what I do bring is a new perspective to the band with today's newer tunes. Heck, I even got the guys to play some red dirt tunes! All together, this makes for a very well rounded and diverse set list. Something for just about everyone!
As far as individual influences, I would have to say that Jonathan Cain (Journey, Bad English) and David Bryan's (Bon Jovi) rock keyboard style is what I lean towards. And my group influence is too large to list and I don't have any one favorite.
Outside of the band, I am a flight paramedic and have been in EMS for almost 28 years now. I am married to a beautiful woman, Stephanie, that allows me to practice and play when we need to. She is very supportive of the band and always sits in the front row! We have three awesome kids, Austin (22), Tyler (21), and Megan (almost 17!) AND 4 Granddaughters! Yep I am a RAWKIN Grandpa! My family is my world and they keep me grounded. I would like to give special thanks to them for supporting me! LOVE YOU GUYS!
Also to all my family and friends who have been there throughout the years and to Mom and Dad Bailey for enduring the noise! THANKS FOR BEING THERE!
Well enough of my blabbing! Hope to see you all at a show!
Follow me on twitter! - BrownnoteBeej