Better Know an Artist (Vol 16): Stefan Prigmore

Stefan Prigmore’s is a name I’ve heard from the mouths of many of Fort Worth’s songwriters. He’s a real songwriter’s songwriter. He has a passion for crafting a good song and he really pours his heart into the songs he writes. Stefan sat down and answered those questions we all know and love.

Me: For starters, tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get into music? And when did you know this is what you want to do for a living (money be damned)?

SP: The main reason I got into music, and the reason it’s so important to me today, is because of my father. He was a professional musician (drums/percussion) for most of his life. He got me started learning rudiments when I was 11, and coached me as I began playing percussion in concert band in junior high. When I was 13, he and I joined the Texas Old Guard Drum & Fife Corps. We built all of the drums for the corps and my father wrote all of our marching cadences. I went on to learn guitar, and at 16, started sitting in on bass with different country and blues groups that my father played with around North Texas. Right around that time is when I started trying to write my own material. I started playing coffee shops doing Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson covers, with a few of my own scattered in as they come along. The other kids at school always were kind of taken aback when I told anyone I was gigging; there weren’t many other kids around working steady (at music) on weekends. I didn’t really realize until much later how lucky I was to grow up with such a built-in education in being a working musician. Right after high school, I hit the road hitchhiking with my buddy, Jonathan Brinkley, who is one of the best singers I’ve ever known. We traveled around for a few years playing music on the street in whatever town we were in for tips. I think that’s about the time I realized I may be able to do this for a living….but would probably be broke most of the time.

Me: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

SP: I’ve always said I play folk music, because it encompasses so many of the styles I most enjoy, like blues, country, bluegrass, and zydeco. I grew up around a lot of great stuff from everything I just described to jazz like Monk, classic rock like Zeppelin and Leon Russell, and lots of classic soul and R&B. All of that stuff sticks with me still, and I like to think it all gets a healthy nod in my music.

Me: Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and why?

SP: My father is definitely my biggest influence, by a ridiculous margin. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. His guidance and support when I was young and through now has been a sort of compass for me. All my favorite older tunes (Night Life, From a Jack to a King, Song for You, Ball and Chain/Janis Joplin) are songs I cut my teeth on playing bass with his band or songs that he always had blasting around the house.

Me: Which of your songs means the most ot you, and if you don’t mind me asking, why?

SP: It feels like “Brazos in My Bones” has the largest share of my soul invested. It was written partly about an ugly, horrible incident involving an extended family member, and partly about growing up experiencing the outdoors with my family and how those two themes have tied me and my brothers to that river. The darker parts of that song were difficult for me to voice, but the other came easy and warm.

Me: If you could open for any act, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

SP: Janis Joplin, no contest. She’s almost a goddess to me.

Me: Any favorite new musical acts, local or otherwise?

SP: My favorite these days is Garrett Owen, and I’m blessed to get to share the stage with him lately and experience his music from feet away. He’s got a new album coming out soon, produced by Taylor Tatsch, and it’s goose bumps good. If Chet Baker and Paul Simon had a kid, and that kid wrote like Conor Oberst and Richard Buckner, his name would be Garrett Owen. We’re going out on tour together in mid-April. How did I get so lucky?

Me: What’s your “stranded on an island” record?

SP: My desert island record would be Professor Longhair’s Rock ‘N Roll Gumbo. I hear something I missed every time it’s on. There’s mojo in those recordings, it’d bring me luck.

Me: Moving onto the home front, what are your favorite (and least favorite) things about the DFW music scene?

SP: I generally don’t think of things in terms of “scenes”, but I really love how supportive local musicians are of each other. my least favorite thing is how unsupportive local musicians are of each other.

Me: Favorite DFW venue to play (or see a show). Why?

SP: My favorite venue is Fred’s Texas Café, hands down. They’ve worked really hard to create a good space and atmosphere. Also, when you play Fred’s, you’re always playing to some new faces that may not be the weekend-evening bar crowd, which is nice. They also take really good care of their acts.

Me: Any favorite local acts people should be looking out for?

SP: I’d keep an eye out for Melissa Ratley. She gets better every time I see her, and she’s always been great. Melissa is a country songwriter from Denton, with strong songs that lack the B.S. that genre is saturated with these days.

Me: And for shits and giggle, what’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

SP: I think a lot of folks that know me may not know that I played harp for some years and it’s my favorite instrument.

Shout out to Stefan Prigmore for sitting down with me. He’s currently in residency at the Grotto along with Garrett Owen, Monday nights in February. Catch him there before he heads out on tour with Garrett. You can check out some tracks below. Thanks for reading and keep supporting local music.

Photo Credit: Steve Watkins (DFW.com)

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