Standing in the circle of the Grand Ole Opry or among friends, Bryan
Fontenot, energizes an audience like no other. Country, Rock, Blues, or
Western Swing, he brings his best every time he steps to the
microphone. This ex bull-rider, loves entertaining the crowd!
To meet Bryan, off stage, you might not sense the gift of music, which
lies in the heart and soul of this polite and unassuming cowboy, or the
obstacles he has overcome in life. He underwent 13 hours of
reconstructive surgery, after a bull took a dislike to him, lost his
Mom during Hurricane Rita, a brother to tragic death, and just recently
his Dad. No doubt the journey has tempered his music with blues and
soulful authenticity that comes only with experience. Bryan's
heart-felt vocals personify the body and soul of music and lyric. He's
believable. Each song is like having a one-on- one conversation with a
friend. I've known and performed with Bryan for 17 years now. Through
the good and the bad times he's never lost his love for his craft. I've
seen him perform for huge paychecks, and for tips. I never could tell
the difference. He's focused on the music, all of the time. His blood
type is B flat.
Charging down music road takes toll on Fontenot
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 07, 2012 1:33
given Saturday in any given honky-tonk throughout Texas or Missouri or
Kansas or Oklahoma, the spotlight might be on Bryan Fontenot, a good
ol’ boy picking out a tune and singing a few bars about drinking and
dancing, riding or roughnecking, loving and losing.
Grammy nomination and the Texas International Music Association Album
of the Year Award for “Who I Ain’t,” Fontenot is no stranger to the
his name, and they know the music. But they don’t know the man, or the
path he’s traveled just to reach that stage.
some, but more than most, the 43-year-old singer/songwriter knows that
life’s not always fair. The Westlake native lost his older brother Brad
to a tragic death in the early 1990s, his mother Martha died of lung
cancer “…the day Rita blew in,” and his dad Louis Bruce Fontenot
battled Parkinson’s disease before his death a few short years later.
His ties to
home are now his brother Bruce and sister Diane, their families, and a
legion of friends.
of his friends predate even his trumpet-playing days on the Westlake
High School marching band, Fontenot worries that many don’t understand
it’s real glamorous,” he said, before launching into a story about his
early days in Nashville soon after his brother’s death.
I had an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry as a songwriter, I slept in
an alley,” he said. “Yep. A real glamorous life.”
songwriters do, Fontenot tells the tale with “Hometown Hero”:
playing here for quarters in this small town country bar.
seems to know me around here.
slap my back and tell me, ‘Boy, we know that you’ll go far.’
that in their minds it’s simple and it’s clear…”
Nashville may be the country music capital of the world, there were few
places to actually perform, Fontenot said.
there to perfect my writing skills and to learn the industry from
inside,” he said. “I wound up working regular day jobs so as not to
starve to death.”
love for music started with the piano when he was 6, followed by the
trumpet, which led to a full scholarship to McNeese State University.
He picked up a guitar during his junior year of high school.
wasn’t to Fontenot’s liking. “The marching band guys were in their
checkered shorts, smoking pipes,” he said, glancing up at his signature
cowboy hat. “I knew me and them were not gonna get along.”
down the scholarship to follow the lure of bull riding, a sport he
enjoyed in high school and one that kept him fed during the lean years.
He also worked intermittently as a welder and once had a part in a Wild
West show on a ranch outside of Las Vegas. Bull riding came to an
abrupt end when a particularly ornery bovine stepped on his face,
resulting in 13 hours of reconstructive surgery that left him with a
face full of titanium screws.
riding the rodeo circuit, Fontenot had continued playing all the
country bars, criss-crossing Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas,
Montana, and all points between just to perform. He found his niche in
“I honed my
skills with the big Texas stages and the big Texas bands,” he said.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, he quit everything to head
home and lend a hand. After a short time in Mississippi, it became
evident that he was needed at home. His mom’s death kept him in the
area for a while.
during those difficult days of personal loss and devastating
hurricanes, Fontenot met Dustin Sink, a Kansas City native who was
doing relief work in the region. Together they formed Fontenot’s new
band, Outlaw Inc. Sink took over as road manager, and Fontenot took
over producing his own music.
few months of releasing “Who I Ain’t,” the album was nominated for a
Grammy and Fontenot was back on the road. Two singles, “Too Drunk To Be
Drinking” and “Who I Ain’t” were released from the album, and a third
is expected to released after the first of the year.
any misunderstandings about his life lately, Fontenot reminds his
friends that 1) he still picks up welding jobs between musical gigs, 2)
he’s still a bit of a wild child, and 3) he wasn’t late for that show;
he made bail just in time.
‘welding jobs between gigs’ comment is self-explanatory, and his ‘bit
of a wild child’ statement iws immortalized in at least one cut on “Who
I Ain’t.” As for his punctuality being questioned, what self-respecting
country singer hasn’t posted bail at least once following a night of
drinking and picking guitars?
misconception that there’s women flocking at my feet or that I’m a
womanizer. I’ve never ever been that. But I admit, I’ve probably left a
few broken hearts behind.”
bad boy stories end, there’s another dimension that he alludes to in
his songs, but hesitates to talk about. Fontenot has never married and
has no children.
me a lot of that,” he said. “It takes a toll.”
core, Bryan Fontenot is a quiet, thoughtful man. Proud of his roots, he
cares about his family and friends, and he values their opinions:
knows they wish me well, but this music road’s been hell.”
Ain’t” is available online at amazon.com, cdbaby, Lone Star Music and
© 2014 Bryan Fontenot Music