Heart is playing Wednesday night at the Fox Theatre and they are sure to ignite the crowd with hits like Alone, Crazy on You, and What About Love, but the opening act Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown is certainly one to check out. You see, Tyler Bryant is a 21 year old guitar prodigy! From age 11, Tyler and his parents knew he was born to rock, by age 15 he was playing Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival, and by 16 he was awarded the Robert Johnson Foundation’s New Generation Award, which pointed him out as one of the most promising new guitarists on the scene. Tyler is joined on stage by his awesome band mates, the Shakedown and includes an array of talented musicians: Caleb Crosby (drums), Noah Denney (bass) and Graham Whitford, the son of Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford (guitar). Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, continue to tour the U.S. and Canada with recent stops at SXSW, opening stadiums for Aerosmith, Eric Clapton. B.B. King, and now Heart.
We caught up with Tyler last year before his show at Smith’s Olde Bar:
Hi Tyler! You are currently on your first headlining tour, how is that going?
It’s great actually. We are in Orlando right now; it’s been great because it has been really intimate shows. There is definitely a difference between playing for 200 people compared to 20,000 people!
Yeah, let’s talk about that for a second. You are 20 years old, just recently signed to a record label, but yet are being asked to go out on tour with guitar legends! How exactly did that happen?
Well I’ve always paid attention to the players that I love (i.e. Jeff Beck), and have always listened to music. From the ages of about six to 11, I was obsessed with Elvis and didn’t listen to anything else. That’s when I taught myself acoustic guitar. When I was around 11, I discovered bands like Tom Petty and the Black Crowes, and I sold my dirt bike that I got for Christmas and bought my first electric guitar. The better I got, I realized I needed to start selling myself if I was actually going to be successful. So around 13 years old, I would just call every single club in town, pitching myself and trying to convince them to let me play. And finally someone did.
That is not normal! You were 13 and calling clubs? Then what happened?
Well, once I got my first gig, I knew I was going to have to deliver. So I played my best, and one gig led to another, and suddenly there was this buzz that was getting around. Not long after that there was a fan voted Ernie Ball Guitars online contest to play Eric Clapton’s Crossroads, and I won. I was around 14 or 15 at the time, and I went to Chicago. That was also the first time I ever saw Jeff Beck play. It was amazing.
So all this cool stuff is happening with you, but you were still so young. What were your parents saying?
Well they have always been super supportive of me. They have always been like “Listen if you want to play guitar, I will still love you.” After Crossroads, record deals were coming to the table, but my parents insisted that I finish high school. They have never tried to interfere with my career, but that was the one time they stepped in, which I am pretty grateful for. Literally right after I graduated high school, I decided I needed to move to Nashville, so I did. During my very first show, an agent from CAA (Booking Agency) was there, and he signed me on the spot.
Wow! That is amazing, that is not a normal story at all. Did you ever want to do anything else?
Yeah, I definitely feel like God must be watching out for me! I’ve actually never been good at anything else! I was the kid wearing the high-top Chuck Ts on the basketball team keeping the bench warm for everyone else!
So what’s next for you?
Actually I’m pretty stoked cause I am recording my first record in between being back on tour with Jeff Beck, being released in September. Thankfully rock n roll isn’t rocket science, so hopefully I will be around for awhile making good honest music people can live to.
I have absolutely no doubt.
Tyler Bryant is opening for Heart at the Fox Theatre Wednesday, November 7th! .