In that relatively short period of time in the music world, Flinn went from pushing his first EP, Give Me Something More to local venues and steadily growing a local fan base to opening for Robert Earl Keen at the outdoor stage of White Oak Music Hall and flying to and from Nashville to write and record songs.
“I’m just really excited. It's been heading in the right direction and I just feel really blessed that I get to do this for a living,” says Flinn who just released his latest album fittingly titled, Meant To Be.
Flinn recalls playing his first open mike at the Mucky Duck fresh off his shift at the nearby Pappasito's while he was still a student at the University of Houston. He describes feeling more alive than ever on that small stage that night and knowing that he had to go further. He ended up joining some other local songwriters for a weekly country music jam at Rudyard's, and though initially he admits he felt nervous and like an outsider, he says they all took him in.
With the help of some of the city's finest local players like Willy T. Golden, Jimmy Pizzitola and Kevin Skrla, Flinn recorded his first demo at Skrla’s studio and used that recording to get the word out to venues.
“There was always this nagging inside of me that I knew music is what really got me going and it just came to the point where it was too hard to ignore that,” says Flinn.
“Some of the musicians that I look up to and I wanted to sort of follow in their footsteps and career path, one thing they all had in common was that was their full time job. They weren’t weekend warriors or hobbyists, that was their thing. I think with anything in life that we want to be successful at, we have to go all in.”
For Meant To Be Flinn definitely went 'all in' teaming up with fellow Texan and country music legend Bobby Terry, who not only produced the album but also co-wrote the honky-tonk track “This Bottle And This Band” with Flinn.
Meant To Be shows off not only Flinn’s classic country vocal stylings, but his ability to toe the line between the old school storytelling and the more modern sounds of popular country.
“That is certainly one thing I'm trying to capture, being contemporary enough to be relevant but also maintaining a lot of those traditional elements,’ says Flinn.
“If you were to ask me who was my biggest influence it would be Alan Jackson and he did such a great job of doing that. Neo traditionalist is how I describe him. I was really doing my best to capture that sound of what I love the most.”
“That is certainly one thing I'm trying to capture, being contemporary enough to be relevant but also maintaining a lot of those traditional elements."
Not only did Flinn capture the sound, but he even got Larry Franklin who has recorded with Jackson to contribute his award winning fiddle playing on the album.
Meant To Be is filled with Nashville heavy hitters as Flinn has been traveling back and forth from Houston to the Music City not only to record the album but to write songs with other songwriters for his publishing deal with Three Hounds Music.
“I feel like there's magic in the air in Nashville. When I go there I go for like a week and I'll come back with like five songs and I love the co-writing process,” says Flinn.
“These people I've been set up with, a lot of times they are like blind dates but they are so talented. They do this everyday and they have so much experience. I’m learning so much from all of them, and I’m also learning that there's no rules either.”
Meant To Be features songs Flinn has written on his own and co-written with others along with some wisely selected covers including Guy Clark’s “I Take My Comfort In You”, a song Clark wrote but never recorded; instead it was recorded by Waylon Jennings.
“I always felt that it's important to just sing great songs, and I don’t care if I wrote them or I didn’t write them. There are so many great songs out there that deserve to be heard. There's a lot of great songs from the past even that younger people might have never heard of that need new life and if I could be that guy, I’d love to be that guy.”
One track that was written by Flinn was the romantic and admittedly autobiographical “Tie Me Down” which is sure to become a must have at weddings. For the video, Flinn asked fans to share their own wedding photos and compiled them into a lyric video.
“I want these albums as I release them through time to tell a story chronologically and not only does it sort of lay out the timeline of things and where I’m at now, but I think when you listen to them you hear a lot of growth too and my whole thing at the end of the day is authenticity.”
During COVID, Flinn has remained surprisingly busy at a time when most musicians are struggling to find places to play. He has been playing frequently at The Rustic which features a large outdoor area and stage and playing venues outside of Houston.
When asked if he has ever been tempted to relocate to Nashville Flinn quickly responds, “Nope. Never even considered it. The advice that I’ve gotten from music industry folks in Nashville is to build your fan base wherever you're at and there's no better place than Texas for that.”
“I love this city very much. It’s my home and I really want to get this city rallied behind me and become fans of this music.”
Max Flinn will perform with David Allan Coe Sunday March 21 at The Wildcatter Saloon, 26913 Katy Freeway, 3 p.m., tickets $40-500.