When not writing and singing and the Rathskeller Restaurant downtown, Derek Spence can be found carving chainsaw art at the corner of Main and Highway in Fredericksburg. This weekend Spence performs an original song on the Texas Country Reporter television program. Photo by Phil Houseal
Derek Spence’s song “That Kind of Love” is scheduled to air on the Texas Country Reporter this weekend - check your listings for times. You can also hear Derek most Friday and Saturday evenings at the Rathskeller Restaurant on Main Street in Fredericksburg. You can order his CD “Contentville” at www.spencerecords.com or by calling 830-990-6975.
Carving out a career
by Phil Houseal
September 7, 2005
If there is any justice in the music world, Derek Spence soon will be singing on your radio as you drive your pickup past the chainsaw art at the corner of Main and Highway Streets.
Spence possesses the honest voice, friendly style, and musician’s sense that makes what he does sound and look so easy. You will be able to hear for yourself this weekend when he sings on the syndicated Texas Country Reporter television show.
Spence’s musical path will make good reading on some future CD release. You’ve heard this story before: Young dreamer started playing guitar at the age of 10 in Tyler, Texas. After high school he played the bars, dance halls, and dives all musicians know so well. In the mid-1990s, Spence set off for Nashville. He met other songwriters, played lead guitar for big acts, toured the east coast, and even performed on the Grand Ol’ Opry twice.
“I don’t regret moving there at all,” Spence said during a break at his current gig at the Rathskeller Restaurant. “The music business is a business, and I learned a lot about the music business.”
One thing he learned was to “get a good gig and keep it as long as you can.” So, after trying Nashville for four years, he moved back to Texas and ended up in Fredericksburg. He’s been playing solo at the Rathskeller every Friday and Saturday evening since.
Would he ever try the Nashville thing again?
“There’s not enough money to do that, and now I have a family,” Spence replied, referring to wife Heidi, 2-year-old son Gus, and newborn Abby Kate. “That would complicate my life. And I’m all about simple.”
Spence may be finished with Nashville. But Nashville might not quite be finished with Derek Spence.
In February, Spence submitted his songs in the Dr Pepper Texas Country Star contest conducted by the Texas Country Reporter. Producers selected 70 songwriters from the 300 who entered across the state. In May, Spence won one of the seven regional contests with a performance of his original song “That Kind of Love.”
“The song is a response to 911,” Spence said. “The first verse tells about how my grandfather never talked about his experiences in the war, but you could tell it bothered him all his life. The second verse is about a modern soldier leaving to go to Iraq. The song is about trying to understand from my perspective what it takes to sacrifice so much for others.”
Over the next few weeks, viewers of the television show will vote on their favorite performers. The final winner receives a record deal with top Nashville record producer Universal South.
Even if Spence doesn’t capture the ultimate prize, fans can still catch him at the corner of Main and Highway. That’s where he creates his chainsaw art, turning lumps of log into wooden sculpture.
“It’s something I learned to do in Tennessee,” he explained. “I usually have a whole bunch of wooden bears, eagles, owls, totem poles, and such. Wood is my second love... next to music.”