Dale & Waylon bring unique sound, original tunes to stage
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
There’s nothing more fitting for an Independence Day celebration than to sit back in the grass and enjoy the music of America on stage with Central Texas singers and songwriters.
The duo of Ryan Dale Davenport and Jake Waylon Lehman – also known as Dale and Waylon – are fresh off their captivating performance at Whimsy & Wonder, and are eager to make a return trip to Liberty Hill.
“We’re super stoked,” Davenport said. “We had a great time at the Whimsy & Wonder so we’re looking forward to coming back.”
At Whimsy & Wonder, the pair were joined by bassist and Liberty Hill resident Dave Gould. They plan to beef that trio up with two additional musicians on the big outdoor stage at the Independence Day Spectacular.
“We’re going to also have a drummer and what we call a utility player who plays accordion, keys and steel drum,” he said. “It’s going to be a little more high energy, but the other two guys we’re adding really make it a fun and diverse mix of music we will be able to add with the full band.”
There’s no hesitation from Davenport when asked what type of music the band brings to its audience. The band is all Americana.
“Americana is a pretty broad genre that covers everything from rock to country, anything that is American music,” he said. “It’s a little country but it definitely has a blues rock twist to it. It’s a little more raw than just your polished country music, but it’s a little more laid back than your standard rock and roll, too.”
The blending of traditional American styles is enhanced by the fact that most all of it is written by the duo.
“For the most part I’d say 95 percent of the stuff we do during a show is original,” Davenport said. “We have a ton of covers that we can do that we kind of started out on, but we’ve really focused in on our original music. We’ve got the material and that’s what we
try to focus on.”
They prefer original work, but know it has to be that much better when everyone in the audience doesn’t recognize what they play right away.
“As a band that focuses on originals it is a little harder sell to get people to pay attention and listen,” he said. “It’s easy for us to get out there and do it because we wrote the songs and we know better how those should go than a cover song. A cover song you are boxed in because you kind of have to make it sound at least close to it and there can be some pressure there because you want to do justice to someone else’s song.”
The band doesn’t usually debut a new song for about a month, until Davenport and Lehman have played it exhaustively on their own. Next comes a recording for the other band members to take and work their own parts into, followed by practice time for the whole band to make sure the finished product is something to be proud of.
“On our end we already believe each one is the best song we’ve ever written,” he said. “I think that’s how you have to be a a songwriter. You have to always love what you’re writing, and we wouldn’t ever want to put anything out there that we didn’t like. We do enough on the front end that by the time we get it to a live audience it is going to get a good response.”
The audience on July 3 in Liberty Hill can expect to be the first to hear a handful of the band’s newest offerings.
“We’ve got three or four new songs we’re going to play for sure as a full band,” Davenport said. “We’re pretty stoked about them. Two of them Jake and I co-wrote, then we’ve got one that Jake wrote solo and we finished up together on the back end.”
The behind the scenes work is what characterizes the work ethic of Dale and Waylon and how seriously they take their craft, but Davenport said it all leads up to the real reward in the end.
“The work in the studio, the work at home, that’s what I’d consider our day job,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing behind the scenes to lead up to our live show. That live show is the culmination of hours and hours of work and that is kind of a pay off for us. That’s what we work so hard to get to with people listening and enjoying what we do.”
Davenport and Lehman have been friends longer than they have been strumming guitars and making up tunes – watching their fathers play together when they were young – and that foundation has served them well in all aspects of writing, playing and producing their own music. Davenport says their band is a true democracy that wouldn’t work any other way.
“It’s kind of paramount that we have that,” Davenport said of their friendship. “We started out as friends and we’ve always played music together. We’ve always been able to get along. It’s important in making decisions on shows, what we’re going to record and we do a lot of writing for the band together. If you’re going to trust someone when you’re throwing ideas at them about a new song, you’re going to have to trust them to be open and willing to go along with what you’re working on.”
In the last year and a half, both have left their old day jobs behind to focus completely on the music they love.
“It kind of went reverse for us,” Davenport said. “We had to work, and then we realized that music is what we were put here to do. While we were working other jobs we still played and we did weekend shows, but we weren’t nearly as serious as we are now.”
There is no part of producing a song or album that’s left to anyone else as the pair does all of their own writing, recording, mastering and mixing. For Davenport, there’s no other way to approach making music.
“That’s how we started doing it a few years back and that’s how we’re going to continue doing it because it makes us proud to be doing an all-inclusive project.”