The Rocks Off 200: Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Photo by Todd Purifoy/courtesy of Spindrift Media & Entertainment
Who? If there's one thing the Texas Country scene needs, it's more women. For example, on this week's Texas Music Chart, the Top 30 is all dudes, all the way down to No. 34. (Take a bow, Tori Martin's Done Deal). Even pro-sports locker rooms let in lady reporters.
Born and raised in Baytown, Breelan Angel is doing her best to change that. She decided to pursue a career in country music during her sophomore year at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, crediting vocal coach Tom McKinney and manager Jake McKim with helping her seal the deal. After a handful of singles ("Halfway to Wasted," "It's My Turn," "Double Standards") dating back to last summer, last week Angel released her debut album, Dirty Little Secrets. She reckons it to be a "good reflection of both Texas and mainstream country"; Angel is right, except her presence in the ranks improves both brands by no small number of degrees.
Angel can send a guy's cheatin' ass packing in a big-time weeper ("She Made Your Bed"), or sit at the bar and shoot trash-talk at the hussy across the room with lines like "honey, trash is as trash does" on "Walk of Shame." Double the twang on an average song from Kacey Musgraves' beloved Same Trailer, Different Park, and you've got Secrets' title track. Pay attention to this one.
Angel says she's been playing shows for the past two and a half years or so, and has opened for legends like Loretta Lynn and Don Williams, Nashville stars such as Easton Corbin and Joe Nichols, and several big names on the Texas circuit: Kevin Fowler, Turnpike Troubadors, Jack Ingram and Randy Rogers Band, among others. She may have a different answer after opening for Montgomery Gentry at her hometown's July 4 celebration tomorrow evening, but Angel says one of her favorite shows thus far came back during this year's RodeoHouston cookoff.
"That's one of my favorite places to be for country music, and having my friends and family there meant the world to me," she says. "Another milestone was getting to play at the famed Bluebird Café in Nashville [earlier in 2014]. It was quite an honor to be on that stage where so many songwriters and artists have shared their music."
Home Base: These days Angel says she splits her time between Houston and Nashville, where she spends a lot of time collaborating with other artists and songwriters. Provided she's in town, she enjoys playing local venues like Firehouse Saloon, Hard Rock Cafe, the Mucky Duck and House of Blues, but adds that Stafford, Crosby, Humble, and other outlying suburbs have been very supportive.
Other than that, "I stick close to home for the most part," says Angel. "I love to just hang out with family and friends when I have some down time!"
Good War Story: "I'm pretty new to touring so I don't have any gossip that I "can" share just yet!!" swears Angel. Still, she did give us a tale most budding young talents can no doubt relate to:
We [had] a show in Hampton, Iowa recently that we were really excited about that didn't work out as planned. My band and I drove 13 hours straight through from Nashville the day before to play for the city's "Tuesday On The Town" gathering. The show was at this really cool bandshell in the town square and we were all looking forward to the festival-type setup they had planned.
On the morning of the show, we woke up at 3:30am (hair and makeup takes a while!) for a full day of media appearances, sightseeing and personal appearances that started with a 6 a.m. TV performance. We were escorted around by the town's mayor, who picked us up at 5 a.m. After getting warmed up on TV for about two hours, the rest of the day was filled with performances for sponsors and area businesses such as a rehabilitation facility, banks and a Kiwanis club lunch.
It was a lot of fun, we met a ton of great people who love country music, and we got to see some really cool sites like the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly played his last show and Lock & Dam 14 on the Mississippi River. We were all really looking forward to the show later that night by the end of our area tour and, at about 2 p.m., we took advantage of a scheduled "afternoon rest" at our B&B.
At 4 p.m., we woke to rain and a severe weather advisory! After all the build-up, in the end the show was canceled and we weren't able to relocate to an indoor spot. We were bummed! Instead, we called up the Chamber folks, the mayor and the radio-station staff and had them join us for margaritas and Mexican food.
Story continues on the next page.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "This is where I got my start and where my most dedicated fan base is!" she says. "I perform in the area quite a bit and I claim Houston, in my heart, as part of my hometown! There is a lot going on here in the music industry that a lot of people aren't aware of, and it really is a great place to learn and network.
"I have several friends, colleagues and team members that work out of Houston too," adds Angel.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "That's a hard one!", Angel admits. "Being a female in today's country scene is tough, but I know it will come full circle; it always does. The guys have it on lock right now, but there are times when it is just the opposite and the women claim all the top spots.
"I don't see anything ever making me want to leave, though," she continues. "Some days are tougher that others, but I love what I do and don't see myself quitting anytime soon."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- George Strait, 50 Number Ones
- Various Artists, Burlesque soundtrack
- Miranda Lambert, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
- Randy Rogers Band, Trouble
- Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
Best Concert You Ever Saw: Angel picked a good one -- Christina Aguilera with openers Destiny's Child at the Cynthia Woods Pavilion in 2000. She was ten.
"At the time, Destiny's Child were one of my favorite bands, besides Christina obviously," she says. "Just watching them both in concert, singing and dancing all over the stage, made me want to be a performer. It was so inspiring and, to this day, I remember being there with my mom and thinking, "'Wow, I want to do that someday!'"
First Song You Fell In Love With: "Achy Breaky Heart," Billy Ray Cyrus -- "I was three years old and it was so much fun to sing and dance to!," Angel says. "What's even funnier is that I would make an extra effort to make sure everyone sang the ' ooo woo' part correctly. It used to drive my family crazy!"
Breelan Angel performs at Baytown's official July 4 celebration 6 p.m. Friday at 1001 Market St., near Bicentennial Park. See baytown.org for details.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.