He Talks In Stereo, PART 2: Singer/Guitarist Gary Myrick Embraces His Texas Blues Muse-EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
With 4 decades of session playing behind him, he's no stranger to playing on others' records. Now, he's exploring his Texas blues roots.
In “He Talks in Stereo, Part 1,” FRONT ROW & BACKSTAGE spoke with Gary Myrick, as we filled in the many highlights in his 4-decade-long career recording his own material.
Myrick also has an impressive track record of well-known rock artists who specifically asked for his distinctive guitar-playing to augment their records, as well being hired as the occasional touring guitar specialist. Part 1 can be read here:
Here, in “He Talks in Stereo, Part 2,” we take a look (and listen) to what Gary’s been up to recently, in 2021 and ‘22!
The interview portions have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
“My favorite thing is live performance. I love to play and sing, and do my thing live at the moment.”
Recently, Gary came across a surprisingly high-quality recording of one of his early shows in Texas. This brings us full circle. In Part 1, we began our dive into Gary’s 4 decades of steady work in the music biz by focusing on his first two albums on Epic/CBS Records as Gary Myrick and the Figures in 1980 and ‘81.
“The tapes were recorded in 1980 in Dallas, Texas by a radio station,” Gary explained to me via social media in January 2022. “The station contacted me recently, and said, ‘We have a show that you did in Dallas and we think you might want these tapes.’ Of course I didn’t know how good they were, and they sent them to me.”
Barely containing his excitement with the new find, Gary continued: “When I listened to them I was blown away because it was the exact power of [Gary Myrick and the Figures] captured live, so I took it in the studio, cleaned up a couple of things, and made sure the show was in a musical order I wanted it.
“To my surprise, it’s the best live performance recording of that band at the height of our powers…a full show on fire! It was all on tape which is great, because it’s analog and it was very minor what I had to do to it [in the studio].”
Available now as a download (Spotify and Amazon), Gary describes the corporate structure behind his new releases: “I already started a new record company of my own called Sound of Vinyl Records, which is distributed by a really giant distributor in Portland, Oregon called Burnside Distribution with worldwide distribution.
“I’ve known the president for 25 years, so I’m putting out all my albums that I do in the future, and any old albums that didn’t get heard properly that I own on this label. I put it out fairly recently as a download only.”
Forever: Adventures in 12-String
Gary: “My album, Forever: Adventures in 12-String had already been out for a couple of months on Sound of Vinyl Records; that, of course, is in downloads (Spotify, iTunes), but there’s also a CD that’s available on Amazon or through Burnside Distribution.”
Here, Gary plays his original, “Ode to Robert Johnson” on a custom 12-string steel acoustic. The master of the Delta blues was a native of Mississippi, and only lived to age 27, having passed away in 1938. Johnson left a singing and blues guitar-playing legacy that has been felt in rock music for decades.
Gary goes deep into his devotion to his blues forebears, and the recording of Forever: Adventures in 12-String (an album filled with originals, with a couple of classic covers): “My love for the blues is deep, and being Texas-born, it’s a strong influence in the south where it was basically created, in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, etc.
“My favorite is blues from the 1930s and country blues, so I wanted to do an all-analog album into a one-ribbon microphone direct-to-tape, performed basically live on one microphone just as Leadbelly and Robert Johnson recorded back in those days…no overdubs. Leadbelly (born in Louisiana as Huddie Ledbetter) played on the corners of my Dallas hometown in the 1930s.
“Robert Johnson recorded the majority of his only album in downtown Dallas (June 1937; Johnson also recorded sides in November 1936 at the landmark Gunter Hotel in San Antonio).
“I also recorded a couple of blues tracks—just a video inside Robert Johnson’s studio space which was a great thrill for me. The mojo was heavy.”
Gary in Robert Johnson’s original makeshift studio space where he recorded his 1937 album, at the Vitagraph (Warner Bros.) Building, Dallas, Texas:
“I need that on a t-shirt—ART must be brave!”
“I’m quite pleased with it, of ‘course. I do all my own artwork, too, and working on the artwork was great fun; there’s so much more you can do now with photography etc. The album’s on about 17 radio stations without hardly any promotion, and in some far away lands like Finland and England.”
Gary gives us a sneak peek into the current state of “Gary Myrick, Inc.”: “I’ve just come together with a new manager; her name is Haylee Winters (of Haylee Winters Management, with offices in New York and Los Angeles), and she wants me to do some acting. She manages musicians and actors, and is determined to have me do some film and TV!
“I told her I’m game [for acting]; I have no fear, and I believe if there’s anything I truly believe, Art must be brave, so this is something she wants me to do, and I’m ready to do it! I need that on a t-shirt—ART must be brave!
“She’s got a great soul, and we agree on many things. I can’t tell you too much about it all, but that’s coming. I’m also gonna make a Part Two to Forever: Adventures in 12-String, all on a Resonator custom 12-string guitar I had built in National Tricone that I will use on the next record.
“It’ll be based around the Resonator Sound, and some of the country blues I love going way back to my earliest roots, but keeping the lyrics in the style that I do now, and always have done. I’ve always wanted there to be kind of a punk side to everything, a point of view not safe.
“Here’s the first single, ‘On the Road Again.’ Plus, I directed this video of the Canned Heat song, [written by Floyd Jones and Alan Wilson].”