Drew Moreland and Neon Hustle Play Sundown Series
BERTRAM — Even though he grew up playing music, hitting the road and making a living at it was never an ambition of Drew Moreland. But after a church sabbatical and a stint as a hunting guide outside Freer, Moreland’s life goals shifted.
“It was a season of change for me that led me this way,” he said.
After working at a church for five years, Moreland headed to Freer on a sabbatical to guide deer hunters — with every intention of returning to the church.
“But when I got back to town after guiding, the church didn’t work out. We parted ways in a good way,” he said. “When that door closed, well, this one opened up.”
And it opened in a big way.
The singer-songwriter hit the road in 2017 on a 250-show tour. He’s cutting back a bit this year to about 150 shows.
One 2018 stop for Drew Moreland and the Neon Hustle is the Oatmeal Festival Sundown Series on Saturday, June 16, at E.B. Goodwin Pavilion, 647 RM 243. The music starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. It’s BYOB (no glass).
The series supports the Oatmeal Festival, which is held the first weekend in September in Bertram and Oatmeal. Drew Moreland and the Neon Hustle, which includes Isaac Villegas on drums and Ben Greene on steel and electric guitars, plays Texas country with a mix of traditional country, Americana, folk, and gospel.
“What it all comes down to is a high emphasis on songwriting itself,” Moreland said. “There are really a lot of different kinds of songs, but one thing I’ve really latched on to is the idea of story. With stories, there’s something more, something people can relate to.”
Along with solid musicianship and songwriting, Moreland backs it up with distinct vocals. He’s as comfortable singing a traditional country song as he is a folk tune or an old gospel piece. Some of that goes back to his earlier years listening to folk music as well as artists such as James Taylor and Simon and Garfunkel. But if there was one group that really showed Moreland what songs could be, it was the Turnpike Troubadours.
“When I was guiding deer hunts, I bought all their albums, and they really know how to put a song together,” he said.
His writes alone and with collaborators. One of his best songwriting partners is his brother-in-law, Garland Lee Wenner.
“He’s one of those who has been writing forever and probably has pages of pages of ideas and things he’s written,” Moreland said. “Me, I have to fight with it a little more.”
While Moreland wouldn’t turn away from national fame, it’s not his aspiration. He sees his band as a regional act, hitting venues across Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana, where he can make a living in music yet remain who he is.
“I feel like, in this scene, I can still be successful and still be me,” he added.
Go to drewmoreland.com for more information on Drew Moreland and the Neon Hustle. Or, better yet, check them out at the Sundown Series on Saturday. Go to oatmealfestival.org for more about the Oatmeal Festival.
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