Former student to share his past through music
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 21:10
Dean Ferrell, singer and songwriter, has gained a broad perspective of life, from working the Northgate scene to traveling the world.
Ferrell, Class of 1995, will perform at 10 p.m. Thursday at Wobbly Monkey, formerly Zapatos, on Northgate.
A resident of Caldwell, Ferrell lives close enough that he still makes trips to College Station to perform. Ferrell said Zapatos was one of the first places he had performed on Northgate years ago.
“I like the kind of beer-garden atmosphere,” Ferrell said. “People walking on the sidewalk can kind of stop and listen and maybe come in and they weren’t even intending to hear your music.”
Ferrell said even though he began playing the guitar at the age of 12, he didn’t begin to seriously write songs until 15 years ago.
“I did my writing for myself back then and then decided at one point I wanted people to hear it,” Ferrell said. “If they were going to hear it, I knew I had to start playing it live.”
A wildlife and fisheries major, Ferrell took a break from A&M and began working at the Dixie Chicken. Ferrell said much of his music drew inspiration from his time working at the Chicken and hanging out on the back porch or playing dominoes with his friends.
“I probably spent too much ‘wildlife’ on Northgate instead of nature wildlife classes,” Ferrell said. “I worked there in the late 80s. That’s kind of where I got turned on to Texas music. That was my first experience outside of mainstream.”
Adam Phelps, Class of 2001 and fan of Ferrell’s music, worked with Ferrell in the ocean drilling program on West Campus. Phelps said he periodically travels from Houston to College Station on Wednesday nights to see Ferrell play. He said he likes how Ferrell writes his own songs and has a story line to follow.
“I think it reflects that love for College Station and A&M too, because I think he has a lot of those emphasis in those songs,” Phelps said. “I just think it’s great he’s trying to keep College Station alive and going in references to places that really aren’t there anymore.”
Ferrell said his music could be likened to the style of Robert Earl Keen and other locally known singers who he believes have a “quality” to their music. He said lately he describes his music style as “Texas country” or “Texas soul-blues.”
“I have a whole lot of different experiences from all around the world,” Ferrell said. “I think it’s definitely influenced me and given me a lot of stories to tell.”
After working a year at the Chicken, Ferrell joined the Air Force and spent time overseas in Japan, Thailand, Korea and the Philippines. He also spent time on a research ship. Ferrell said his songs recollect experiences like the time he was electrocuted in Thailand or when he ate Filipino street food, “where they’ve got charcoal in a hub cap and [are] cooking chicken off a stick.”
“The people you meet, there’s definitely some crazy characters out there,” Ferrell said. “Some of these stories I start telling people, they think I’m making it up, but it actually happened.”
Ferrell said he preferred music that related to personal experiences rather than “the factory of music.” Ferrell said there were some songs in which the experiences were fictional, but he said there was truth behind all of his music.
“You can’t let the truth get in the way of a good story,” Ferrell said. “If you can tell a story, a real story in just a few lines, write a novel in three verses. That’s what I like about it.”
Thursday will mark Ferrell’s second performance at the Wobbly Monkey.
Koby Petter, manager at the venue, said he contacted Ferrell because of Ferrell’s previous performances
“I like it when [singers] return to their roots [and] kind of have songs about where they start out, where they came from,”