Life is no snap for Deryl Dodd

By Dan MacIntosh, March 2002

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In addition to its country music staple of fiddle, Dodd drew upon his bluegrass roots to apply a few other traditional elements to its vocal section.

"Because it has three-part harmony, I did those harmonies myself. I have it more of a bluegrass kind of a spin to some of those vocals. That's the way I heard that song."

Dodd is no snotty turned-up-nose roots music purist, but just as he's done with "Sundown," everything he plays ends up sounding at least a little bit country.

"There are certain instruments that are sort of signatures for the sounds found in differing styles of music," says Dodd about the music he plays. "Country music has evolved over time, but there's always been those fiddles, acoustic guitars, electric guitars and steel guitars."

Still the eclectic Dodd has ' been inspired by everything from '70s Southern rock to soul and R&B.

"I feel like a big melting pot of all kinds of music," Dodd admits. "My heart is in roots country, sort of dirt road honky tonk music, but I'm a huge fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Marvin Gaye. I just love great music,soulful music. And I just sort of integrate all this into my music."

Dodd is from a family of musicians and singers and has been playing music since before he was even a teenager. Yet, his parents encouraged him to go to college, which he obediently did as he received a degree in marketing and management at Baylor. But it wasn't until his classmates encouraged him to perform at an local night spot that Dodd's singing career began to take shape..

"That's how it started. I got up there and sang all these songs I grew up with. I hadn't really written too many songs at that time, and I was probably too shy to play them out."

His college friends acted as the spark plug for his musical career, but if they hadn't nudged him onto a stage, he would have made it there eventually.

"I was never cut out to be in business," he reflects "or be suit and tied. I was always very non-corporate. I wouldn't have said that back then. I always liked blue jeans and boots and hanging out. I wasn't structured enough to, nor did I have the patience. I was too hyper. If I were sitting in an office, I couldn't breathe there."

"Music really turned out to be the right thing because I'm much more of a night person. I choose to look and dress the way I feel I want to."

He went where his heart led him, just as his school friends followed their prescribed paths.

"What's funny, is all the people I went to college have become what you go to college for," he says with a laugh. "They're lawyers, CPAs and CEOs of companies, and that sort of thing. And I'm still the traveling gypsy.

"It's neat to go to all these towns where they're from. And they'll come out with the short hair. They're stable, and I admire them because of the stability of their lives, and sometimes I think I have none of that (stability). But I think in my instability, there is stability. I don't know if that makes sense, but I've learned to be real comfortable with the way I live. I love the road. I love traveling. I love hotels. You've got to love it."

Dodd is from the small town of Comanche, Texas where - if he wasn't playing guitar three or four hours a day - he was outside playing football. He's a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan who had great success playing the sport in high school, but never seriously considered making football his life's calling. Nevertheless, he believes his duel loves of music and football helped prevent him from ever getting into the kinds of trouble young people often gravitate towards.

"I was never bored enough to do something that would disrespect my parents," Dodd says proudly.

He realized by the end of high school that the rigors of professional football were just not for him, but this game - which is almost a religion in Texas - will forever be in his blood.

"If I ever did anything else but music," Dodd admits "I'd love to coach football."

In maybe an odd sort of way, Dodd hopes to bring his audience together in the way an inspirational coach can unite his players.

"When I perform, I like to bring the audience into what I'm doing. It's not about me standing up there in all my glory. Because I've played clubs for so long, I know so many people that come out."

"They may be standing in the front row. There may be somebody standing there who I haven't seen in 10 years that I might have went to college with or played in a band with. I'll just have to say, 'Hey Johnny, what's up? There's your wife. How y'all doing?'

"I know at some point this (familiarity) may change, but for me, it's just kind makes it an all-evolving kind of thing, and we just have a big time. I'm very much a mushy guy, and I love people, and I love to recognize my friends that are out there, and I look forward to hanging with them after the show. That's what I'm all about."

Dodd knows it is God's grace that has allowed him to continue to do what he loves. But had it been all smooth sailing, he may not have appreciated his life the way he does now.

Nobody wishes ill health on anybody, but the clichˇ about how such events build character has more than just a little truth to it.

"I was talking with one of the guys from Sony," recalls Dodd "and he was saying, 'With every good artist, there's gotta be something wrong with them. There's gotta be something a little quirky about them.' And I definitely have some of that."

There isn't a whole lot of outward quirkiness about Dodd, but when you face a career-ending health crises before album three, can it ever get more wrong than that?

Nobody can overcome such a monumental obstacle the way one simply buttons a pearl snap. It took the rock solid faith of his religious upbringing, the realization that an alternate life in the corporate world was just not for him and a belief that he was indeed something special and destined to make music his life that ultimately got him through.

Chicks may dig his pearl snaps, but anybody with a heart will appreciate the victories he's won along his inspirational journey.