Hometown bar: An Engel's regular, Bryan Daisley will open for a national act
Tractor Tavern show with the Wilder Blue
Last updated 5/24/2023 at 12:44pm
When the Wilder Blue, one of the hottest new bands in Texas – dubbed a "supergroup" by the Saving Country Music website – performs at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard June 1, Edmonds music enthusiasts might recognize the opener: the Bryan Daisley Band.
Daisley is a frequent performer at Engel's Pub on Fifth Avenue South, performing there April 1 and scheduled to return May 27.
The Wilder Blue, fronted by solo artist and songwriter Zane Williams, has released two albums of melodic country music with shades of bluegrass often recalling the textures and harmonies of the early Eagles.
"Wilder Blue is a great band," said Daisley. "When I told my band we had been invited to play this show, my message was something to the effect of, 'Well, I'm sure we're not going to be the best band on stage this time, but between the two we'll at least be the only one left in the city the next day.'"
The band will play music from its latest recording, "Cathedral," released earlier this year. In January, Daisley and the band performed at a record release party at the Tractor Tavern.
"The gig came to be because of the wonderful people at the Tractor Tavern who invited us," Daisley said. "Seattle is a great city for original music because of the Tractor and venues like it that identify local artists they believe in and help pair with more established touring acts.
"They gave us a chance once, and we came through, and from there the relationship keeps developing. Given the acts that come through the Tractor and how many messages they are bombarded with, I'd give them a pass for ghosting unsigned bands like mine, but it says so much about how they work that not only are they one of the most prestigious, it's also the nicest venue we work with."
Daisley is becoming a regular at Engel's, which typically offers a rotating schedule of blues and rock music.
"We love playing at Engel's," he said, "and at this point I have no hesitation in calling it our favorite hometown bar. Relationships with venues start behind the scenes, and the sad truth for most bands starting out is you reach out to venues and they don't give you the time of day, especially when you play original music."
But Engel's staff apparently liked what they heard.
"Our fans turned out, and we've been going back again and again ever since. The staff there has always treated us well. The crowd is down-to-earth, unpretentious, and often hilarious. Our kind of folks."
Expect the dance floor to be packed when the Bryan Daisley Band plays Engel's.
"What I love about the hometown bar gig is it's a place where people know us and where we can try stuff out that we wouldn't necessarily do at higher-profile shows," Daisley said.
"If the crowd seems into it, we'll try new originals, invite guest musicians, extend solos and improvise, mess around with some covers, change instruments, whatever. Engel's is a musical playground, and we have a lot of fun playing there."
While Wilder Blue fits squarely into country, folk, and Americana genres, the Bryan Daisley band is a little harder to describe. There's shades of country with bursts of rock. And more.
"I wish I had an easy answer for this," Daisley said. "As a songwriter, I write from my heart with as few boundaries as possible – the only clear line is to stay in the space where the music feels authentic to me, and hopefully to you, too.
"I'm not trying to be a country artist or a rock artist. The result is a collection of songs that range from classic country to rock, Americana, folk, and almost reggae, but they still sound consistent because, as a songwriter, everywhere I go, there I am."
At some point, Daisley said, he decided he'd let others label his music and just focus on writing what comes naturally to him.
But he admits that, if forced to, he'd call his music rock with a country influence, rather than the other way around.
"The label of country music comes with a lot of baggage I don't want to carry. Many people think country music is just the shallow stuff on the pop radio stations about tight jeans and pickups, rather than the broad, rich storytelling world that it is.
"But a local country bar once told me my music wasn't country enough to play there, so there's that. Frankly, as a songwriter (and maybe as a person), I just want to be on the side of whichever genre accepts me as I am. And at our shows we want people to feel accepted as they are, too."
As most musicians do these days, Daisley keeps track of streaming music data. Fans of his music, he said, are more likely to be fans of Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Eric Clapton, Drive-By Truckers, and the Black Keys.
'Edmonds resident in spirit'
Daisley is a Puget Sound local.
He grew up on Fox Island and went to Gig Harbor High School. He started playing music around the age of 7, primarily piano. Soon after, he was writing songs. He picked up the guitar at age 13, and along the way earned his chops on the trumpet – jazz band every year of high school – as well as the banjo, accordion, and upright bass.
"Music has always felt native and intuitive," he said. "At some point in the very beginning, it was clear that music was how I worked through and expressed complicated emotions, and now it feels as much me as my heartbeat. I don't really know who I am without it."
Daisley lives in Richmond Beach with his wife of 20 years, Addi, and two kids – Lyla, 15, and Marlow, 12. But he calls Edmonds his home base these days. He calls himself "an Edmonds resident in spirit."
After a lifetime of making music and playing in a number of groups, it wasn't until his 40s that Daisley said he was brave enough to form a band around his own music, under his own name.
As an independent musician, Daisley has a day job. He's worked many years at the University of Washington. "It's an incredible place with an incredible role in our community and the world, and I've been proud to be there.
"I don't believe at this age that I'll be famous or make the big time or anything like that, but what I remind myself before every show is it doesn't matter. This isn't really even about me.
"If the outcome of this band is inspiring somebody else to follow their dreams, if it's creating a night where people who don't fit anywhere feel like they belong, if it's helping somebody with an issue through connection with a song lyric, if it's just meeting the other band members.
"Any of those things and more – then it's all worth it. I accept that we don't usually know the full meaning of what we do, or the songs we write, but the meaning is still there.
Here's the band: Kelly Smith (Edmonds) on bass; Alyssa Stock (Seattle) sings and plays percussion; Sage Goewey (Kenmore) plays drums. Jack Parker (Bremerton) plays with the band regularly as well.
"They are each great musicians, kind and honest folks, friends who found each other in various ways over the years, and we're in all this together," Daisley said.
"Bands are like a second family, in a way. I consider past members like Ian Ross and Gordon Assadi also part of the family, and it always makes my day when they drop by a gig."