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rapping up their first Canadian tour as a band, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown hit the Carleton stage this past Friday. Having released two albums to date and toured North America with Jeff Beck, these guys are on their way to making an enormous ruckus in the music scene. Born in Honey Grove, Texas on February 24, 1991, Bryant is quickly becoming a genuine rock ‘n roll powerhouse. Exposed to the blues by true, working class, paint your fence, fix your car, ‘seen some things’ blues players like his mentor Roosevelt Twitty; Bryant was six when he picked up the guitar. By eleven he sold the dirt bike his folks gave him for Christmas and bought a red Epiphone Les Paul. C-l-l-l-assy. At age 17 Bryant moved to Nashville where he met drummer Caleb Crosby and bassist Calvin Webster who make up the Shakedown rhythm section. “We never really had a name, it was gonna be the Tyler Bryant Band with those guys,” Bryant explained over the phone last Thursday while the band’s Winnebago was being fitted for a new tire at a Goodyear garage “somewhere in New Brunswick.” A shit-ton of solo bookings for Bryant put the full band on hold momentarily and thus the name of the band as well. “Crosby, Webster and guitar player Graham Whitford are such a crucial part of the show and recently we decided to give them a title because they’re such a big part of what this is, ya know?”

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown from left to right: Calvin Webster, Tyler Bryant, Caleb Crosby, Graham Whitford

Bryant’s got some mean chops when he plays solo and he’s proven himself on several stages such as the South By Southwest stage this past March. But coalesced with Webster, Crosby and Whitford’s musical prowess makes these four young rockers a really nice breath of fresh rock ‘n roll air. Should probably mention that Whitford is the son of Aerosmith’s rhythm guitarist Brad Whitford… no big deal. Although the band’s recent tour was their first in Canada, it was Bryant’s second. His first, oh, nothing major, just a measly solo opening slot with some old timer from England, Jeff something… “I sent my agent an email saying, ‘Jeff (Beck) was coming to Nashville, I’d love to get tickets to the show.’ The gig was sold out and I didn’t give my agent enough heads up, so he couldn’t get me a ticket,” Bryant says. Without Bryant knowing, his agent sent a video of Bryant playing to Jeff ’s people. “I got a call and he asked me to come play on this American tour with him as the opening act.” Not bad for a friggin’ 20 year old. “I got to play at the show that I couldn’t get a ticket for in Nashville and Jeff and I kinda became buds. About a month later I got a call and they asked me to come do Canada with him.”

“That’s where the band comes in. We know how to have a good time, we don’t cross the line, ya know?“

Before hitting the stage this past Friday night, Bryant was full of anticipation.

“I think it’ll be fun man. I’m excited for the people who saw us last time to come back and see me with the band. It’s a different animal with the band…because when I was out playing with Jeff I was playing acoustic, this is the full on rock show.” If this band was in fact an animal, it would be a friggin’ Texas rattlesnake, fierce, tough and slick. Aside from old soul, rhythm and blues influences Bryant draws heavily on fellow southern rockers, the Black Crowes, for inspiration. The Crowes were his first rock show experience and it changed Bryant’s attitude and musical direction forever. The use of heavy slide guitar and big thumping rhythm parts gives Bryant and the Shakedown’s music balls, depth and dynamics. A trait they must have picked up from the Robinson brothers and company. “They’re one of my favourite bands; I’ve seen them more than probably any other band...ever. Before that I was really into a lot of old school blues and soul music and then I went and saw the Black Crowes and I was obsessed with rock ‘n roll from that day on. They’re one of the best rock ‘n roll bands of all time.” Bryant’s rap sheet is impressive. He’s already shared the stage with immortal rock legends such as Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Slash, Vince Gill and Beale Street Blues Boy himself: Mr. BB King. King invited Bryant onto his tour bus after a gig one night and sat him down, clasped his hands over Bryant’s and with complete sincerity and wisdom made Bryant promise him he wouldn’t get mixed up in drugs. A promise Bryant has kept with apparent ease. “That’s where the band comes in. We know how to have a good time, we don’t cross the line, ya know? I’ve seen some people really close to me go down hard from drugs, so I keep my distance.” A real warm ‘n fuzzy story and a good excuse to stay off drugs, but if BB King told me not to piss standing up and only wipe my ass with my left hand, let’s be honest, I’d do it without hesitation. If you are just finding out about these cats, definitely go forth and educate yourself. If gritty, pumpin’ blues rock is your bag, you won’t be disappointed. Check out tracks “Say a Prayer” and “Kickin’” off their From the Sandcastle record. The band is busy working on their next full-length at Sweet Tea Studios in Oxford, Mississippi which housed the great, bluesy, Buddy Guy. “We thought it’d be good to get out of Nashville for a little while. We rented a house out in Oxford together and were working with this guy named Dennis Harring,” Bryant explains. The guys have cut 60 songs down to 12, have tracked everything live off the floor and put in over three weeks of pre-production before hitting the record button. “The studio is great, so many cool people have recorded there...we kinda wanted to tip our hat to the blues a little bit and get a rootsy type of place to do the record.”

The guys are pushing to release the album this coming July/August so keep an eye out for it, y’all!

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown  

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown wrapped up their first ever Canadian tour as a band at the Carleton in Halifax, Nova Scotia this past Friday.

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