Brett Myers, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and winner of the 2008 World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies, laid the groundwork for his current role as a Southern rock and country music artist during his playing career.
The Jacksonville, Florida native and devotee of hometown heroes Lynyrd Skynyrd grew up around a guitar-playing father and a healthy diet of classic rock. Yet Myers didn't seriously pursue music until after he made his big league debut for the Phillies in July 2002.
Early in his pro baseball career, Myers discovered that Kevin Camiscioli, the Phillies' Director of Video Services at the time, played guitar and enjoyed similar music. Camiscioli soon transitioned from Myers' work buddy to his guitar teacher.
"We would go on the road, and we'd both bring a guitar with us," Myers says. "We'd sit in my room or his room, order some beers and just sit there and jam and listen to different styles of music."
After his stay with the Phillies (2002-2009), Myers went on to pitch for the Houston Astros (2010-2012), Chicago White Sox (2012) and Cleveland Indians (2013). While Myers' rookie season shaped him into a guitarist, his final year in MLB laid the groundwork for his recording career.
"The whole singing thing came about when I was on the DL in 2013 with the Indians," he says. "I called my buddy who played in the band Nonpoint. He was in Chicago, and I said, 'Why don't you come to Cleveland? I'm by myself, dude. Let's write some songs and teach me some guitar. Let's just goof off.'"
By "goof off," he actually meant write at least four songs that caught the attention of producer Damien Starkey, a former member of Puddle of Mudd, lead singer of Burn Season and a high school friend of Myers.
Notice that these dominoes fell during 162 game baseball seasons, not amid off-season family time.
"In baseball, there's a lot of downtime" Myers adds. "You have really nothing to do after you've done your work and stuff."
Starkey produced Myers' debut EP Backwoods Rebel in 2015. Highlights include "Kegerator," a hilarious country tune about drinking to your heart's content without your spouse counting cans in the garbage.
Myers stuck with it after his well-received EP, cutting multiple albums since then and collaborating with the likes of Colt Ford ("Rattlesnake") and country rappers The Lacs ("Sons of The South"), Big Smo ("Fill These Boots") and Bottleneck ("Rebel in Me," "Drink This Town Drunk").
As a debut album took shape, Starkey suggested that Myers perform his raucous, country-flavored rock songs live. Myers balked at the idea, striking an absurd bargain that ended up coming true.
"Of course I said absolutely not because that's not what I want to do," Myers says. "I want to be a recording artist-- Just a guy that sits in the studio and writes the songs. He goes, 'Let's sing out at a bar or something or a venue.' I said, 'I'm not doing that, dude. I'm scared to death. I was scared to get in front of a microphone just with you sitting in the room.' I said, 'You know what, I'll do it if I can play an arena.' Come on, how am I going to play an arena, right? Two months later, I get a call from our local arena football team, asking me to play a halftime show. I'm going, 'Well, I just stuck my foot in my mouth.' I'd had no contact with these people at all. I didn't know who they were or who ran the team.
"I was sweating bullets before I went in there, and it was only two songs," he continues. "I mean, the worse thing you can do is forget the words. Your career is over. You're done. It was in front of like 8,000 people. We did the show, and I was like, 'Wow, that was kind of fun.'"
Expect more music reflecting an appreciation for Skynyrd and Travis Tritt as Myers continues seeing his aspirations through. A follow-up album to 2016's You're Welcome, 2017's Home Brewed and 2019's Baptized in Gasoline was in the works when Wide Open Country talked to Myers back in February.
Not a bad string of creative highs for someone who initially just wanted songwriting and guitar playing diversions during the dog days of summer.
"This whole thing started grassroots," Myers says. "It was never intended to be where it is now. I'm not saying that we're huge or anything like that, but our following has grown. It's to the point where some people didn't even know I played baseball. I think that's really, really cool."