This week on the Here’s What We Know Podcast, we’re again shining a spotlight on a remarkable figure in the music industry, the exceptionally talented songwriter Barry Dean. Listen in and hear more of his incredible story as he shares his reflections on his past experiences and the power of collaboration and friendship in his musical journey. Barry believes success isn’t merely about individual achievement but rather collective growth, camaraderie, innovation, and resilience against the odds.
“I just wish you could select to watch the crowd the whole time. I don’t have any interest in the stage. I just want to watch all those people working the room and their interactions. That’s the part I’m most interested in.” ~ Barry Dean
“They work and you know this because you do it. And also, you know, these artists do it. They work so much more than I think.” ~ Barry Dean
“The same 400 songs. And you don’t know what you want. There is a delight that comes from when you do that. You curate it and you say, this is how it feels today at, at three o’clock or whatever. Even when you’re sitting in at your desk with all the CDs or I am with all the stuff. I don’t know what to do. You know, and so there is something to that for me, at least it’s magical. ” ~ Barry Dean
Barry Dean is a highly accomplished songwriter in both country and pop music genres based in Nashville, Tennessee. Barry’s remarkable talents have earned him a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Country Song for his work on Tim McGraw’s “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”. Barry remains filled with awe every time he hears one of his songs playing on the radio. When you consider his journey, it’s astonishing to think that he once thought he might end up working a 9-to-5 job in Kansas. His portfolio boasts an impressive array of chart-topping hits, including two No. 1 singles for Little Big Town (“Pontoon” and “Day Drinkin'”), “Think a Little Less,” which dominated the charts for Michael Ray, “Heartache Medication,” the most recent #1 hit for Jon Pardi, Ingrid Michaelson’s Top 40 sensation “Girls Chase Boys,” and an ever-expanding list of country and pop hits. These accomplishments underscore that Barry Dean is undeniably living out his true calling.
This week, we had an insightful discussion with Michael McLeavy, a renowned singer from Glasgow, Scotland, who shared his musical odyssey, from forming his own rock band to touring extensively. In the journey of life, it’s often our passions that guide us towards a fulfilling career path, and his story is one of determination and seizing opportunities, a testament to how impactful inspirations like Elvis Presley can shape our style and vision.
Tune in to hear more about how Michael and his ventures brought him into contact with notable personalities within the entertainment industry, further expanding his network.
A key takeaway? Be open to new experiences, as they may lead you down unexpected paths filled with potential growth opportunities.
This episode is sponsored by:
In This Episode:
The Birth of a Star
Rocking the World
Lights, Camera, Action!
A Beautiful Bond: A Relationship with Sharon Tate
Meeting an Icon: An Encounter With Elvis Presley
Island Life and Hustle: Work Experience In Hawaii
Wisdom Gained Along The Way: Life Lessons
“How can we do to improve ourselves? Well, you know, don’t let the old man in, as Clint Eastwood says, keep the old man out. Right. So do the things that you still like to do, that you did do, and within reason, do it.” ~ Michael McLeavy
“I did it. Because the challenge was there. There’s always a challenge. You need some sort of challenge.” ~ Michael McLeavy
Michael McLeavy was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and his journey in the world of music began with the renowned Rock N Roll band “The Fireflies.” He Came to the United States to further his career and to meet Elvis Presley in person. His fortune smiled upon him, as he had the incredible opportunity to spend the day with him on the set of one of his movies, “Spinout”, and backstage at the International (Hilton) in Las Vegas. Notably, Michael had the privilege of performing the American, Canadian, and British National Anthems at the Highland Games in Dana Point, California, on August 24th and 25th, 2013. Also, he had the distinct honor of delivering both the American and British National Anthems at the British American Business Council Orange County on December 2nd, 2016. Michael has lived in Dana Point with his wife, Linda, since 1989.
He is an Entertainer and just released his latest CD, “Try A Little Kindness” recorded in Nashville, Tennessee.
Texas Country Artist William Beckmann is this week’s guest. If you’re not familiar with his music, you’re about to be. It’s not going to be too long before he’s well-known all over the country. He and I dive into the evolution of Texas Country Music and how different artists have shaped the genre over the years. We talk about the unique appeal of Texas Country Music, and highlight the abundance of talented songwriters and the diverse fanbase that spans the vast geography of the state.
This episode is sponsored by:
Habana Cuba (Be sure to use code “Gary20” to save 20% off your order!)
In this episode, you’ll be able to:
Songwriting advice and challenges
Writing a hundred songs
Storytelling in songwriting
Longing for childhood dreams
Learning Spanish and Performing
Coping with life on the road
Playing a concert in Mexico
“I had at least ten people that were there singing the songs in the front row, which was really cool because I didn’t think I had a single fan in San Jose, California, but I was definitely wrong.”
“Well, that’s kind of the point, you know; the point is after you write a hundred bad songs, you’re bound to write one good one”
“And he [Radney] was telling me that I was essentially saying the same thing twice, just in a different way, and to avoid doing that because you’re sort of wasting a line; you can make better use of that line and have something more valuable to say.”
“Of course, you can’t hide your lyin’ eyes and your smiles of thin disguise.”
“So it’s sometimes tough to sing that song just given that Keith and I were friends, but you know what, it’s a beautiful song, and I’m very honored to get to play that song every night, you know.”
“I hope you all get to go home with a little piece of Del Rio Texas to take home with you.”
“I don’t get to see a lot of people really anymore, and so just doing the little things you would think, you know, night after night and playing for hundreds of people, sometimes thousands of people, you’re like, man, this is a crazy feeling. I was like, you want to know a real crazy feeling? Go drink a beer with your buddy who you haven’t seen in, you know, ten years or whatever and who’s got two kids and the whole family a whole life that you have sort of been separated from. That’s a crazy feeling.”
Hailing from the small border town of Del Rio, TX, William Beckmann was raised on classic country as well as the mariachi and Norteño sounds of northern Mexico. He delivers a fresh blend of vintage country, Americana and Latin music with a timeless baritone and an old soul maturity that belies his youth. His new album Faded Memories released in 2022, featuring the slow-burn single “Bourbon Whiskey” as well as a mesmerizing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire” and the haunting “In The Dark.” The album has garnered praise from critics including American Songwriter, Billboard, CMT and more, and his current track “Damn This Heart Of Mine” is Beckmann’s fourth consecutive single to hit the Top 20 at Texas Regional Radio Chart. Beckmann has amassed an incredible fanbase, independently garnering more 670,000 followers on TikTok and over 2 million streams of Faded Memories. He has spent the last year touring with artists including Parker McCollum, Koe Wetzel, Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen and sold out three shows at legendary Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX in 2022.
In the midst of the gators and the quiet simplicity, Hunter Phelps discovered his refuge in the unspoken language of music. But as his talent took him from the small town of Niceville to the grand stages alongside country music stars, he faced challenges he never anticipated. The unexpected twist in his journey taught him invaluable lessons about the power of perseverance and the true essence of songwriting. Join us as we delve into Hunter’s story, unraveling the triumphs and tribulations of live performances and the art of creating music. Brace yourself for the unexpected twist that lies just beyond the horizon, waiting to be unveiled.
This episode is sponsored by:
In this episode you’ll be able to:
The unique experiences and life lessons only a small-town upbringing can offer
How your childhood hometown has evolved and developed over time
The sense of freedom and deep bonds forged in a small-town setting
Tackling live performance and songwriting challenges
The joys and trials that come with the transformative journey of parenthood
Candid shared experiences that paint a vivid picture of growing up in small towns
The nuances of urban development through the lens of our childhood hometowns’ transformation
The remarkable freedom we often overlook that underpins the small-town life
The heady world of live performances and enrich your songwriting process with our practical experiences
The heartwarming yet challenging journey of parenting, filled with many priceless moments
Meaningful experiences that resonate with a small-town upbringing
How your childhood hometown has transformed over the years, capturing the spirit of change and growth.
The undercurrent of unity and liberation that is integral to living in a small town
Enthralling accounts of dealing with the challenges that come with live shows and song composition
The fulfilling and stirring journey of parenthood with its myriad joys and challenges
00:00:05 – Bonding over Small Towns, The hosts discuss the automatic bond that comes from meeting someone from a small town in the middle of nowhere. They mention their own small towns of Niceville, Florida, and Florella, Alabama.
00:01:12 – Changes in Niceville, The hosts talk about how Niceville has changed over the years, with new places to eat and the addition of a Walmart. They mention that Florella, Alabama, the town where one of the hosts is from, has mostly remained the same except for the addition of antique stores.
00:03:01 – Missing the Saltwater, One of the hosts expresses his love for being near saltwater and missing access to it in Niceville. He grew up on boats and being close to the bayou. The other host talks about growing up near Lake Jackson and encountering alligators.
00:04:44 – Alligator Encounters, The hosts share their experiences with alligators. One recounts a story of a scout leader sticking his arm out to an alligator, while the other talks about seeing alligators run over by trucks. They discuss the food source and taste of alligator meat.
00:08:48 – Freedom and Small Towns, The hosts reflect on the freedom and independence they experienced as teenagers driving to nearby small towns like Op and Clayton. They mention how country songs often capture this feeling of being in charge of yourself.
00:14:12 – The Challenge of Winning Over a Crowd, Hunter Phelps discusses the challenge of performing in a small bar in South Dakota and winning over a crowd who may not know or appreciate his music.
00:15:07 – The Repertoire of Songs, Hunter Phelps talks about the extensive number of songs he and his band knew and how they would play covers to win over the crowd when performing at Tootsies in Nashville.
00:16:37 – The Influence of Songwriting, Hunter Phelps shares how his father, who wrote songs for artists, sparked his interest in songwriting. He also talks about the first song he ever wrote, inspired by a request for a jingle for a bar.
00:19:03 – Support from Hunter’s Dad, Hunter Phelps discusses his father’s support for his music career, including being proud of his songwriting abilities. He also mentions how his dad helped him secure his first gig at the Mullet Festival.
00:28:26 – Controversy over “Breakup Sex” song, Hunter Phelps discusses the controversy surrounding his song “Breakup Sex,” which received negative feedback from some parents. Despite the criticism, the song gained traction and helped propel his career in country music.
00:30:00 – Writing “Breakup Sex” on a retreat, Phelps talks about writing “Breakup Sex” during a songwriting retreat with Ashley Gorley’s company, Tape Room Music. This was his first retreat experience, and he learned the importance of writing multiple songs a day to increase his chances of creating a hit.
00:31:42 – The impact of “Breakup Sex” on his career, Phelps expresses gratitude for the success of “Breakup Sex,” as it opened doors for him in the music industry. The song led to more show opportunities, collaborations with other artists, and access to better writing rooms.
00:32:23 – The challenges of songwriting, Phelps and the host discuss the challenges of songwriting, including the high number of songs that don’t get cut or become hits. Phelps emphasizes the importance of perseverance and building a vast catalog of songs, as success can come unexpectedly in the future.
00:35:11 – Triple play achievement and building reputation, Phelps reflects on his rare accomplishment of achieving three number-one songs in a single calendar year. He credits his success to hard work, luck, and building his reputation as a songwriter. The host compares the achievement to artists’ paintings becoming more
00:43:26 – University of Florida Major, Hunter Phelps talks about how he majored in building and construction at the University of Florida, which was influenced by his family’s background in construction. He also mentions that one of his buddies in college was the guitar player in his band, which eventually led to his music career.
00:44:47 – Fixing Things at Home, Hunter reveals that he is handy around the house and does a lot of household repairs himself. However, he mentions that he would not mess with gas lines and knows his limitations when it comes to certain tasks.
00:45:50 – Dream of Building a House, Hunter expresses his interest in designing and picking everything for a house but admits that he wouldn’t want to build it himself physically. He acknowledges that someone with a background in building construction, like himself, would have a more nuanced eye for the process.
00:46:34 – Background in Building Construction, Hunter explains that his degree in building construction focused on commercial projects like hospitals, and his experience was more in scheduling and estimating plans rather than hands-on building. However, he still has a background in the field.
00:48:04 – Fun at the University of Florida, Hunter reminisces about his time at the University of Florida and attending football games. He mentions that it was a fun school and recommends attending SEC football games at schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, and Florida for a great experience.
00:58:13 – The Joy of Parenthood, Hunter Phelps discusses the joys and challenges of parenthood, emphasizing that the love for children only grows over time. He shares his desire to have more children and the unique ways parents interact with each of their kids.
00:59:34 – Siblings and Parental Interactions, Hunter and the host discuss their experiences growing up with siblings and how their parents interacted with each child differently. They highlight the importance of understanding individual needs and personalities within a family.
01:00:22 – Future Music Plans, Hunter reveals that he has new music coming out in 2023 and mentions the possibility of recording songs with his own vocals. The host encourages him to pursue singing and highlights his talent in that area.
01:01:12 – Family Time, Hunter shares his plans for the rest of the day, picking up his kids from school and spending quality time with his family. The host wishes him a good day and looks forward to their next meeting.
01:01:24 – Farewell and Goodbye, The conversation concludes with a friendly farewell as Hunter thanks the host for his time and expresses excitement for future endeavors. They bid each other goodbye until their next meeting.
Hunter Phelps was born and raised in Niceville, Florida, where he was introduced to songwriting at a young age by his father, who owned a small recording studio. When he wasn’t out hunting or fishing the bayous and bays of the Florida panhandle, he spent his days teaching himself to play the guitar and working at a local marina.
After high school, Hunter attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he began writing songs. He joined a band, started playing tailgate parties and bars around town, and quickly developed a loyal following.
Early in his career, he shared the stage with major label acts like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Gary Allen, Keith Anderson and Michael Ray. Hunter moved to Nashville in 2012, before ever having visited the town and without really knowing how to break in to Music City’s circles. Armed with his guitar, he honed his craft in the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway and sharpened his songwriting skills in the writers’ rooms of Music Row.
In 2014, shortly after his self-released debut EP came out, Hunter signed a joint publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and hit songwriter Ashley Gorley’s Tape Room Music, where his recent cuts include Florida Georgia Line’s “Wish You Were On It,” recorded for their upcoming album, Dig Your Roots. Hunter is currently writing and recording for his debut full-length album release.