Two performers this weekend at JavaJax

February 4, 2011

Musician Will T. Massey and Fiddler, Richard Bowden. (Photo by Valerie Fremin)

Java Jax is bringing in not just one performer this coming Saturday, but two in the same night. Performing together will be Will T. Massey and fiddler Richard Bowden. This will be their first visit to Java Jax this weekend.
Bowden did not grow up in West Texas. He moved to Lubbock in the 1970s and spent over 10 years in the Lubbock music scene. Bowden played approximately 10 years with the The Main Brothers Band in Lubbock as the fiddler and mandolin player in the group.
Massey and Bowden just started talking one time in Austin during a show and ever since 2008 they have remained good friends and have been doing music together for the past three years.
Now how about that Massey.
Lets just say this, we all have or have had our own personal struggles. Whether it be family matters, alcohol or drug addiction, depression, ADD, diabetes, Alzheimers, you name it someone has had to deal with it. Massey's was Schizophrenia. It seems many musicians and artists have had struggles with different things like the rest of us.
Sometimes it's noticed more often in musicians and artists, due to the fact it usually is expressed in their music or in their work in some way or another, or even by the public.
The following is not only that discussion with Massey, but a great conversation of Massey's journey back to doing what he enjoys and loves — music and entertainment for all to enjoy.
Which album is your favorite that you have done?
"My very first album, (Pickin', Poker and Pickup Trucks) while I was still in High School."
I noticed you are up front and personal about your past bouts with schizophrenia on your website bio (www.willtmassey.com). Do you still have times where you struggle with it?
"I have had to deal with it in my past for over 13 years. I no longer have to struggle with it anymore, it's not even an issue."
Do you feel it had been a benefit to your music writing or a hinder?
"It was not a good time for me, but as far as my music writing, yes, I did write a lot about those times and everything that was happening with me. Especially in one song called, (Hard to Smile)."
How did you finally get diagnosed with schizophrenia?
"Thanks to a friend and their support they offered me a place to stay til I got on my feet. That's if I would go get diagnosed. So that is what I did, I checked myself in to get diagnosed and I was diagnosed with having schizophrenia. Three days later I was on medication, and have been fine ever since."
In 2000, I noticed you said you made a bargain with God? Is that what you meant when you said,
"If an expected check arrives general mail delivery at the post office today for me, I'll use part of it to buy a guitar and the other half on a greyhound bus ticket to go back to Texas."?
"Basically yes. At the time I was in Seattle pretty much living on the street. I even pawned my guitar just to survive. I had pretty much cut off most of my friends and family by then. I did have a general mail delivery location in Seattle for about three months. At the time with my battle with schizophrenia I didn't really have much of a connection going on with anyone or even God at the time. I do remember making a bargain you might say with God. If there should happen to be a check at the post office, enough for me to get a guitar and a ticket back to Texas I will pursue music as my interest and get help. Thanks to a friend. Which I have had few and far between at that point in my life. She had sent me a check enough to do just that. All I had to do in trade was write and send songs to her every now and then. At the time she was a radio DJ."
Do you regret what happen between you and producer Peter Philbin on the MCA label in 1995, when you asked them to let you go after not showing up for meetings?
"Yes, I regret it now. I had such an opportunity at that time to make it "big", if I just stuck to the meetings and wasn't involved into other matters of my own."
Do you feel it was suppose to happen to guide you another direction with your music? It some times seems with some musicians that a mistake in the music business, offers something better down the road.
"Yes and no. I regretted what happen with MCA, even though I was able to connect with other musicians, labels, and other people which has gotten me to where I am now. From here it's down word with my music. I mean that in a good way. I did get help with my schizophrenia, and now I am doing what I enjoy. I'm in a good spot with my life."
I noticed you have worked with some well known names such as Roy Bittan (Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). Do you still work with any of them now?
"Currently, I have not worked with either one. I have been in touch with Bittan on and off. Mostly via Facebook, and on the phone. I'd like to do some more work with Bittan again. That would be a lot of fun. I have not connected back with Campbell though."
If someone asked you to describe your music in just a few words what would it be? Blues, Folk, Rock N Roll?
"I would say Americana. Some may say, Folk when they see me live."
Do you do many live shows outside of the Austin area? I noticed that you seem to hang around Austin mostly. Have you thought about doing some shows in Lubbock? I've heard through some musician that is another great place to perform in the West Texas area.
"Currently, no. I do love to travel and do live shows though. I have done that before, and it's great visiting different places and people. The music scene in Austin is always good, and there are many other musicians in that area where we all can kind of connect. Lately, I have been doing just shows in Austin. I'm headed back that way after my JavaJax show. I would like to some time go check out more of the scene in Lubbock. I have talked and worked with a few musicians from the Lubbock area. Maybe I'll have to go do some shows over there in the near future."
I noticed on your website it says you now live in South Austin with your girlfriend, photographer Valerie Fremin, and your two dogs Inka and Pace?
"Yes, we sure do. My girlfriend and I have been together for five years now. She does most of my photo work. Our two dogs Inka and Pace (meaning peace in Italian) are great. Pace, is actually called that because he is quite the handful and very active. So we thought "Pace" would be a good name for him. Maybe saying his name often enough he might become just that, (peaceful)."
For more information on Will T. Massey. You may visit his site located at www.willtmassey.com.
For more information about the show times and dinner reservations contact, Java Jax, 325.933.4382. Located at 325 Oak Street in Sweetwater, Texas.

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