For one night only on October 29th the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon in Tarzana, CA was home to singer-songwriters Bryan White and Scotty Emerick as the final stop on a west coast run. Having seen these two long time best friends perform before I knew it would be magical and fun. The evening was presented by the California Country Show headed up by local artist country radio podcast host Dave Bernal. Dave keeps country music alive and well in Southern California.
Opening the evening was local Fullerton, CA country singer-songwriter Alice Wallace. Her sound is a mix of country, folk, blues and rock bringing to mind Bonnie Rait, Emmy Lou Harris and the twang of Loretta Lynn yet continuing to stay true to herself. Since the release of her debut album in 2011 Alice has gained national attention and praise for her uniqueness and style.
When I mentioned earlier that Bryan and Scotty together would be magical and fun I was right on the mark. The acoustic set was filled with stories, jabs, music and laughter. The respect these two friends have for one another is so evident and refreshing to see. Bryan treated the room to some of his hits, “Rebecca Lynn,” “So Much For Pretending,” “Sittin On Go” and “Amen” from his latest album release, “Shine.” Scotty sang some of his songwriting hits, “I Love This Bar,” “Beer For My Horses,” “Love Me Like My Dog,” “I Can’t Take You Anywhere” and a new song he has written (which I hope I am pardoned for possibly not getting the title correct. I got lost in the music and did not grab my note pad fast enough) “There’s No More Where That Came From.” It was small stage, but a big show.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Bryan and Scotty prior to the show and it felt like old friends just chattin’ on the front porch. It was an interesting insight into two brilliant minds that have endured the industry through the years.
The basis of this west coast run was to fulfill a dream both Bryan and Scotty have had to go great white shark cage diving.
Scotty and I have wanted to do this for years and thought this would be a good way to achieve grabbing that brass ring by seeing the coast, bringing music to our fans and capping it off with a trip to Guadalupe Island where from there we take on our adventure. This may be the last time you ever see us; we may not make it but will probably sell a lot of records once we are gone.
This friendship has been solid since they first met in 1992 through a mutual friend. Bryan said,
When I met Scotty I realized how much we had in common; we loved a lot of the same artists, enjoyed singing three part harmonies; and with a roommate of ours we enjoyed singing songs by Don Williams, Steve Wariner, Vince Gill and Merle Haggard. We watched each other stumble into success along the way; Nashville has been very good to us.
At a young age coming into this business it must have been overwhelming. Bryan feels the competition is tougher now then back then.
It would be a fright to try and break in now. The music and song quality is not the same. It is really hard to find a great written song these days and for us it was timing; we came to town at the right time and had the tenacity to stay at it and not give up.
Scotty has always been more comfortable as a songwriter, but had a run of shows in 2004 with his band called, “The Love Handles.” Scotty states,
The name of the band came from us eating too many In-N-Out burgers that gave us those love handles.
In 2003 he recorded an album under the Dream Works label entitled “Coast Is Clear.”
At my time Dream Works was the spot to go. I could move ahead of the line thinking I was going to get a pretty good promotion bump but that didn’t happen. At least I got three singles and three videos done so I did not sit around and wait too long for the promotions to move along.
A songwriter has a process of getting their songs out there and Scotty explains,
I have a catalog of songs and mostly I give them to friends of mine who are recording albums or people pitch them to different artists so that is how it usually works.
Being songwriters it is an honor when someone uses one of your songs especially if it is a hero of yours that you have looked up to. Bryan noted,
Scotty has been fortunate in that arena with two of his biggest heroes Merle and Willie recording his songs. I can honestly say I am happy if anybody cuts anything I’m a part of. My heroes are Steve Wariner, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap and people like that. Shoot, I would be turning cartwheels if they would step up, not for the money, just the fact they thought enough about it. As a matter of fact there have been some really great things happening on this run. We stopped by Merle’s house and good things went on there. I think Scotty is going to have another song recorded by Merle.
Scotty has had many artists record his songs, but feels there is someone he would like to add to the list.
I would like to have a Taylor Swift cut. I have been lucky with cuts being done by George Strait, Ronnie Milsap, Willie has done four or five and Merle has done a couple, so now I want Taylor Swift. It has to be a country song too… I think it would be cool.
I wished him luck and to that he replied,
Now I am going to have to make it happen.
Both artists have received accolades and awards but outside of those what stands out in their careers are the times like this recent run.
This is an opportunity for Scotty and I to hang out. I have laughed more in the last five days then I have in the last five years and I know that has added years to my life. I get to hear my buddy sing as well as singing together while getting to talk about old stories. The collaboration part of it is really the stuff that is magical. Awards and accolades are awesome but all that stuff fades away but friendships don’t and this is evidence.
Bryan’s latest album “Shine” was released in June of this year. What will the remainder of this year and into next bring for him? He explained saying,
I hope I am as busy next year as I was this. I love traveling, playing small venues such as tonight as well as theaters and some band shows. I love the acoustic shows and I think fans are excited as well since they haven’t seen as much of me. I don’t know what to expect from the musical side of things but I am going to stay creative; keep writing and producing stuff.
Scotty is staying busy as well.
I have four or five songs that are pretty new that I need to record and demo then I’m gonna go to Florida fishin’.
I truly appreciated the entire evening from the chat prior to the show to the wonderful people who helped pull it all together along with the great acoustic music in the small intimate setting and time spent with a good friend. I say it was a win-win all the way around.