The Rocks Off 200: Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock)

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photo courtesy of Dylan Bryson
Who? Dylan Bryson is a native Houstonian and singer-songwriter who has played with various local groups -- including the Southern Backtones -- in addition to writing, recording and performing his trademark bluesy rock as a solo artist.

His project du jour? Recently he launched Russian Doll Effect, which Bryson sums up succinctly: "It's rock and roll, and I like it."

It was not very long ago that Bryson really had a reason to sing the blues. After a traumatic accident left him with a severe head injury, Bryson underwent a procedure called a decompressive craniectomy -- essentially the patial removal of the skull, intended to relieve dangerous brain swelling and pressure. Bryson describes the experience in harrowing detail, explaining that essentially one-third of his head was frozen for a total of three months, during which he spent considerable time hospitalized and undergoing intensive therapy to recuperate.

"I was very, very lucky in that I didn't die, become paralyzed, suffer from speech problems, or severe memory loss," Bryson says, adding that it was his connection to music that served the most therapeutic role of all. "I was brought my guitar in the hospital," he remembers, "When I could play and sing my songs from memory, I knew I was going to be all right."

Home Base: Bryson says he is currently frequenting local open-mike nights, in an effort to "keep [his] chops up," and can frequently be found at AvantGarden, Fitzgerald's or the Mucky Duck -- on the appropriate respective evenings, of course.

Why Do You Stay In Houston? Ever the matter-of-fact kind of guy, Bryson credits his ample group of friends and industry contacts with keeping him grounded in his hometown.

"Everyone is generally pretty friendly [here]," he adds.

Good War Story: Bryson recalls a touring incident that occurred while on the road with the Southern Backtones, during which a tire blowout very nearly caused a major accident. Fortunately, he boasts, Houston's resident tornado-hunter saved the day.

"Thank God, Hank Schyma was at the wheel," Bryson recalls. "The moral there, kids, is to make sure the storm-chaser is the driver."

Music Scene Pet Peeve: Bryson laments the lack of kindred talent the city has to offer, elaborating that even a simple Craigslist search evidences how few fellow locals share his style and taste.

"If I search -- entering, for example, a band like [Black Rebel Motorcycle Club] -- it will come back with maybe two or three results in Houston," he explains. "Whereas a search in, say, L.A. returns 15 to 20 results."

Although he plans to stay put for the time being, Bryson admits that finding artists to collaborate with would likely be easier elsewhere. "I tend to think I'd meet more musicians with my influences on the East or West Coast," he concedes.

Five Desert Island Discs:
(No particular order)

  • T. Rex, Electric Warrior
  • The Smiths, The Smiths
  • Big Star, #1 Record
  • The Beatles, Revolver
  • Depeche Mode, Violator

Best Concert You Ever Saw: "I randomly walked into a show by a great Canadian singer-songwriter named Sam Roberts at SXSW," Bryson recalls. "It was a small club, and the sound was great."

First Song You Fell In Love With: "That's a tough one," Bryson muses. "Probably the version of 'Johnny B. Goode' in Back to the Future."

See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.

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