We had the good fortune of connecting with Korey Manuel and Dana Chavez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Korey Manuel and Dana Chavez, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Faith has a funny way of manifesting itself. Korey – “I don’t know what else I would do. Being a musician is all I have ever known, there is no alternative. The music is in my blood. Before I met Dana, I loved making music and had a passion for it. However, there were many years when that passion didn’t have direction or clear goals. After Dana and I started writing songs together, I have had a much clearer picture of what I want to do and how I want to do it. This helps me keep focused on the big picture goals whenever resistance tries to discourage. Resistance can be anything that attempts to stop us and it never lets up. Knowing you’re doing what you’re meant to do, with the person you’re meant to do it with is extremely helpful.” Dana considers her faith to keep going “intuitive, despite having to push through spells of fear and self doubt. Milestones in the KD brand have justified that intuition and urged new growth and new goals. I know living as a career musician is not an easy existence; we are a bit strange and sacrifice a normal walk through life in order to create music, but knowing that what we’ve created resonates with others on a level not otherwise possible fills my soul. The ability to share a piece of yourself with another human in a way that is unique only to art is overwhelmingly heart warming”. Times of struggle and tests of faith are not lost on us. This year has been difficult for every person we know; the world is hurting right now. For Kerosene Drifters it has meant a loss of live shows, travel, routine, sales, and income. We kept our spirits up by streaming live on social media. We made it fun, challenging for us and new for our listeners by having theme nights – learning the songs for that theme and dressing the part. Our KD family rallied around the live streams. It seemed we needed each other in the dark hours of uncertainty the world was facing. Slowly live shows have started to come back and we decided to finally focus on our second album, which is full length and a grander endeavor than our first self titled EP. Being back in the studio and hearing this project come to life has helped reinforce our faith to keep going.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
We’ve coined our version of music as “Drifter Rock”, seeing as how we are a rock band with Texas influence and a love for the blues. As a husband/wife team we perform as a duo or we hire fellow musicians to fill out a full band. The Kerosene Drifters sound is unique in that we both sing lead and harmony with rare “blood harmonies” while stretching and bleeding the boundaries of rock, country and blues. Korey plays acoustic and electric guitar and I (Dana) am the bass player. Being a female bass player is growing in popularity but is still somewhat niche and is such a fun instrument. We’ve experienced several proud moments in our career, the memorable ones include playing on the bill with Reckless Kelly and Mickey & the Motorcars and having a successful album release party with our first EP. Also, this summer, we had the opportunity to have the video for our original song “Barb’s Wired” featured on the nationally televised show The One-Indie Music Battle which aired on Reelz Channel, and were able to finish in the Top 3 every week the show aired. So Cool! On a personal note, as a couple who lives, plays and works together 24/7, we’re proud we haven’t killed each other (lol). On the contrary our relationship has grown exponentially from when we first started dating 10 years ago. We have traversed rocky paths along the way but never lost sight of our connection and our larger career goal. The most exciting part of our lives at the moment is creating, recording and releasing Kerosene Drifters second album; a full 12 song body of work that not only includes acoustic/electric guitar, bass and drums, but we were able to bring in a badass keys player, Damian Sisca from San Antonio for piano/organ work and an incredible cello player, Jen Mulhern (Jenuine Cello) from South Padre Island. These two outstanding musicians captured the vibe we were creating and breathed new life that gave us goosebumps. The place Kerosene Drifters is in today is of course a bit different than a year ago, but we have used the time to pivot and focus on other areas of our music. Korey likens his professional path to Reckless Kelly’s “Wicked Twisted Road”, knowing from an early age he wanted his profession to be something in music, he just didn’t know what yet. He found the road straightened when he met me (Dana) and we started writing together. I also knew early on I wanted to be a musician and always flew close to it but never fully took the plunge until I met Korey. Kerosene Drifters path has since been a consistent uphill battle of paying dues, networking, learning the business end of things and finding ourselves through music. It hasn’t been without its challenges. Being self employed, running a business and relying on an industry that is quickly finding itself online with a short attention span means that we have to be flexible, diverse and find opportunity in every crevice. We are constantly researching and networking; seeing what is working for fellow artists and industry professionals at the moment. Many lessons have (thankfully) been learned along the way, the biggest one being every gig must end. This can mean with a venue, an agent, a band member; everything must run its course. We can’t fall in love with any situation because it will inevitably change. We’ve also learned that the only person you can compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Everyone is on a different journey with different ideas, goals and opportunities. As for working with others, bookers and agents are human too and will make mistakes; don’t burn a bridge because of unintentional error. We are all professionals and should act like it. Personally we’ve learned to grow into our authentic selves musically. There’s an old saying that goes “if you’re gonna play in Texas ya gotta have a fiddle in the band” – from the 1984 song by Alabama. We’ve taken this notion of what Texas music should sound like and used it to influence but not define our sound; no fiddle and we like to rock out. This has allowed us to find our brand of Drifter Rock, find our love story and find our extended Kerosene Drifters family.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Korey and I love good food, drinks and music of course! LSA Burger Co. in downtown Denton serves magnificent specialty burgers, fries and homemade sauces with a menu you won’t find anywhere else, and their selection of craft beer is notable. Their Brisket Queso is especially hard to resist. As a rooftop restaurant the surrounding scenery of the courthouse, clock tower and downtown is spectacular onlooking the stage. With music happening every weekend (until the shutdown), a great sound system and sound man Drannon, music memorabilia decorating the walls, outdoor games and large murals by local artists, there is much to see and great food to eat. Other places in the Metroplex we’d go are House of Blues for their many stages, music every day of the week, and vibey ambience. The Box Garden at Legacy Hall houses a very cool stage in the middle of an enormous 3 story conglomeration of restaurants, bars, hang out areas, games and other entertainment. Walking Legacy Hall to look at everything they have to offer would take an entire afternoon. Heading north, closer to where we live, we’d eat at El Taco Gordo in McKinney for authentic street tacos. Korey is from San Antonio and I lived there for 10 years so we appreciate a good taste of SA. Any musician, especially guitar players need to check out Guitar Sanctuary in McKinney. This music store/venue is unique in atmosphere, having high end guitars and a sophisticated yet warm vibe with occasional concerts. TUPPS Brewery is also a cool spot to hit while in McKinney with food, weekly trivia and live music. Friends and fellow musicians Brent Hollensed and Claude Webb Jr. have part ownership in the Bonnie-and-Clyde-robbed-Bank turned fun laid back bar/restaurant called The Gar Hole in Anna. Another owner smokes meats served daily and a small stage in the main room hosts live music frequently. If you’re looking to get some of his brisket you’ll need to get there early. Cooley Bay Winery in Van Alstyne makes flavorful wine from several different fruits, offers tastings and appetizer platters, hosts live acoustic music and brings in niche food makers. I love their Blackberry wine and Korey’s favorites are the Reisling and Cranberry. We’d need to grab a Sasquatch at 903 Brewery in Sherman. They have trivia every week, bring in food trucks and occasionally have live music. The furthest north we’d go is to Kingston, OK to stay at Caney Creek Resort. A friendly and party focused community with live music every weekend and lake adventures during the day is always a great time. The best listening room we’ve had the pleasure of playing in is In the Music Room in Waxahachie. If there is a concert happening or a radio show being taped it is worth the drive to be a part of the intimate audience. The Tredway’s have made this listening room a warm and vibey space with more music memorabilia than you can soak up in one night. Last but not at all least, we would hang out in our backyard with the grill going, music jamming, animals running around and neighbors popping in. Korey and I both love to cook, having a wide range of signature meals such as chili, stuffed bacon wrapped chicken, taco and fajita feast or street tacos, and chicken with lemon butter sauce. What I love most is that we live in a spacious neighborhood with a park like backyard where I can see all of the stars and howl at the moon.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, where do we begin?! We have been blessed with support, encouragement and guidance since being budding musicians as children. Dana – My parents, Susan and Michael, and family encouraged my musical growth because they saw the passion in me and knew it was a part of my being. They continue to support me and Kerosene Drifters to this day because they understand what we are looking to achieve takes a tribe. Korey- My musical journey started young. From birth I was introduced to the gospel music stylings of my Dad’s family. My grandparents and aunts and uncles all sang and played an instrument. They had beautiful “blood harmonies”. At the same time, my Dad was in a Country Rock Vocal band. It was a trio including my Dad and the Brown brothers-Norman and Rick. I always loved hearing them play. Norman and Rick are like my “musical uncles” and I consider Norm to be one of the biggest influences in my desire to play guitar, as well as my style of playing. Other outside influences came in the way of music and guitarists I’ve connected with. Some of my favorite and biggest influences are James Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Phil Keaggy, Paul McCartney and Dave Matthews. I could list so many more but those are the ones I hear most in my playing. A special shoutout goes to my longtime friend, Bain Serna. He has been a constant supporter, encouragement, and sometimes “kick in the butt” I’ve needed over the years. Kerosene Drifters would be more Drifter than anything if it was not for the love and support from our fan base who we consider our KD family and the guidance from industry professionals who have helped us along the way. J.R. Castillo/Musician, Songwriter, Producer, Publisher fanned KD flames in the early stages and continues to provide advice and feedback for our career and projects. He is also a featured guest on the duet “Give In to Me” to be released on our upcoming album. Rene Solorzano/Drummer, Engineer; Scott Ross/Producer, Stuart Sullivan/Wire Recording helped to shape our first EP. Landis Chisenhall/Cibolo Studios Drummer, Engineer and James Campbell/Cibolo Studios Engineer have been pivotal in recording this second album. Lee Wenner/Songwriter co-wrote 3 of the songs on the upcoming album. Dennis Gelbaum/rampitupentertainment and Wendy Kay Klein/Dream Night Talent Search, both of Wendee, have made us take a hard look at the business end of our KD brand. Dennis has enlightened us as to how social media can work better for our business, and both Dennis and Wendy have given insight as to how to improve our live performance. As for our KD family, we have had individuals support the production of our upcoming album; Beth Hall/Sponsor, Artist, Unofficial President of the Kerosene Drifters Fan Club and 1st person to get a tattoo of our lyrics, and Juan & Maria Nieves/Sponsors and Home Away from Home to name a couple, as well as our entire San Antonio family, Caney Creek family and North Texas family. Last but not least, a book that every artist, entrepreneur, adventurer, and soul searcher out there should have 5 copies of (because you will want to share it with your fellow wanderers) is Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. This book and the entire series to include “Turning Pro” and “Do the Work” has been instrumental in the intellectual growth of what being a wanderer-turned-professional looks like. I can’t tell you how many times I have read it for encouragement and for the reminder that we will meet Resistance but we must Persevere.
Other: www.kerosenedrifters.bandcamp.com www.facebook.com/KeroseneDrifters www.reverbnation.com/KeroseneDrifters www.sonicbids.com/kerosene-drifters
Brett William Mauser Haley Rose, Rock n Rose Photography Alba Fernandez, Lonia Photography Bruce Davis Jessica Waffles