The Rocks Off 200: Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper

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 by Todd Purifoy/courtesy of Spindrift Media & Entertainment
Who? If there's one thing the Texas Country scene needs, it's more women. For example, on this week's Texas Music Chart, the Top 30 is all dudes, all the way down to No. 34. (Take a bow, Tori Martin's Done Deal). Even pro-sports locker rooms let in lady reporters.

Born and raised in Baytown, Breelan Angel is doing her best to change that. She decided to pursue a career in country music during her sophomore year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, crediting vocal coach Tom McKinney and manager Jake McKim with helping her seal the deal. After a handful of singles ("Halfway to Wasted," "It's My Turn," "Double Standards") dating back to last summer, last week Angel released her debut album, Dirty Little Secrets. She reckons it to be a "good reflection of both Texas and mainstream country"; Angel is right, except her presence in the ranks improves both brands by no small number of degrees.

Angel can send a guy's cheatin' ass packing in a big-time weeper ("She Made Your Bed"), or sit at the bar and shoot trash-talk at the hussy across the room with lines like "honey, trash is as trash does" on "Walk of Shame." Double the twang on an average song from Kacey Musgraves' beloved Same Trailer, Different Park, and you've got Secrets' title track. Pay attention to this one.

Angel says she's been playing shows for the past two and a half years or so, and has opened for legends like Loretta Lynn and Don Williams, Nashville stars such as Easton Corbin and Joe Nichols, and several big names on the Texas circuit: Kevin Fowler, Turnpike Troubadors, Jack Ingram and Randy Rogers Band, among others. She may have a different answer after opening for Montgomery Gentry at her hometown's July 4 celebration tomorrow evening, but Angel says one of her favorite shows thus far came back during this year's RodeoHouston cookoff.

"That's one of my favorite places to be for country music, and having my friends and family there meant the world to me," she says. "Another milestone was getting to play at the famed Bluebird Café in Nashville [earlier in 2014]. It was quite an honor to be on that stage where so many songwriters and artists have shared their music."

Home Base: These days Angel says she splits her time between Houston and Nashville, where she spends a lot of time collaborating with other artists and songwriters. Provided she's in town, she enjoys playing local venues like Firehouse Saloon, Hard Rock Cafe, the Mucky Duck and House of Blues, but adds that Stafford, Crosby, Humble, and other outlying suburbs have been very supportive.

Other than that, "I stick close to home for the most part," says Angel. "I love to just hang out with family and friends when I have some down time!"

Good War Story: "I'm pretty new to touring so I don't have any gossip that I "can" share just yet!!" swears Angel. Still, she did give us a tale most budding young talents can no doubt relate to:

We [had] a show in Hampton, Iowa recently that we were really excited about that didn't work out as planned. My band and I drove 13 hours straight through from Nashville the day before to play for the city's "Tuesday On The Town" gathering. The show was at this really cool bandshell in the town square and we were all looking forward to the festival-type setup they had planned.

On the morning of the show, we woke up at 3:30am (hair and makeup takes a while!) for a full day of media appearances, sightseeing and personal appearances that started with a 6 a.m. TV performance. We were escorted around by the town's mayor, who picked us up at 5 a.m. After getting warmed up on TV for about two hours, the rest of the day was filled with performances for sponsors and area businesses such as a rehabilitation facility, banks and a Kiwanis club lunch.

It was a lot of fun, we met a ton of great people who love country music, and we got to see some really cool sites like the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly played his last show and Lock & Dam 14 on the Mississippi River. We were all really looking forward to the show later that night by the end of our area tour and, at about 2 p.m., we took advantage of a scheduled "afternoon rest" at our B&B.

At 4 p.m., we woke to rain and a severe weather advisory! After all the build-up, in the end the show was canceled and we weren't able to relocate to an indoor spot. We were bummed! Instead, we called up the Chamber folks, the mayor and the radio-station staff and had them join us for margaritas and Mexican food.

Story continues on the next page.

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