Better Know an Artist (Vol 17): Bucky Spangler

Bucky Spangler is a singer-songwriter who now makes his home in the DF-Dubs. He crafts American Folk/pop songs with a contemporary socio-political awareness. His most recent album Why Play Now? was recorded in Dallas in one day, by himself and was recorded, edited, mixed, produced and uploaded in 23 days (not too shabby, huh). Friend of the blog, Taylor Tatsch did the mix and production on it and referred him to us for our fun little questions. Here’s how that went down.

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)?

BS: Every child is born with its personality and world view intact right from day one, right? (Ask any parent.) Mine was/is an artist’s temperament, so the music and art just found their way to me (or I found my way to them. Who knows?). I fell in love with playing music on a record player when I was 3 or 4 years old. It just grew from there.

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

BS: It’s unpolished, immediate, topical, sometimes funny, and always very real. Its roots are in the days when popular music mattered – when musicians were our public poets. I still like a tune that tells a story, has something to say, and says it with a bit of literary-ness to make it more interesting. (That all starts with Chuck Berry IMHO.) I can’t find anybody out there today who is doing what I’m doing, which is actually the reason I am doing it. I couldn’t find any new music that was satisfying so I decided I would have to go out and make my own.

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

BS: Wa-ay too many to count. My record collection includes a lot of acoustic and electric blues from the 1940s onward. Country music from the 50s and 60s. Rock n’ Roll (of course) and pop songs. 1950s jazz. The Beatles, Frank Zappa, NRBQ, Elvis Costello, Ray Price & the Cherokee Cowboys, Bukka White, Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Lowe, Muddy Waters, Foster & Lloyd, the list goes on and on and on…

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

BS: The answer to that changes depending upon what song one most recently wrote, no? Right now, it seems to be “Sleeping With the Enemy.” That one was a fun departure from what came before. It’s got equal parts Peter Green, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello in its parentage which makes for a clever sort of a mash-up I suppose. I get emails from people who tell me they love it. I am humbled and honored when that happens.

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

BS: Paul Simon. He’s probably the gold standard as far as I’m concerned. I know he’s really old now but 30 years ago, had I been ready and able, it would have been a thrill to open for him.

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

BS: Some of the coffee house guys I see on Open Mic Night have some really nice tunes. Steve Jackson’s “Goodnight Moon” deserves to be a smash, and no doubt would have been instantly had it been released in 1975. Garrett Owen has that song with the line about “drinking poison from the well.” I like that one too.

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

BS: Oh, man. Can’t answer that one. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”? Oy yoy yoy, decisions, decisions!

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

BS: As Troy Aikman once famously said, “I’ve always said Dallas isn’t so much a sports town as it is a winner’s town…a lot of the people that attend sports in this town, they’re there because it’s kind of just a place to be seen.” Substitute the word “music” for “sports” and the sentiment holds true, I think. I’ve been to a lot of Dallas shows and Open Mic Nights where the audience talked all the way through the performance. WTF? What I do like about the Dallas scene is that it’s not as self-aware as Austin’s scene. There’s still some innocence here.

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

BS: Opening Bell Coffee. Pretty much the only place I like to play in Dallas now. lol (when the audience is listening.)

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

BS: – see question 6 above.

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

BS: That I came to Texas, and have therefore lived my entire adult life here – married, children, career, etc, etc. – completely as a result of a random coin toss. I was in a band in Pennsylvania and we knew we had to get out of there. We had friends in Boston and friends in Houston. So we tossed a coin. Texas won.

Thanks so much to Bucky Spangler for playing along with us. No immediate shows to announce, but maybe you can catch him at an open mic or something. In the meantime, check out his record Why Play Now? below.

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