Somebody's Gotta Do It: Musician - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Somebody's Gotta Do It: Musician

LUFKIN, TEXAS (KTRE) – Some people only dream of playing in a rock band.  But members of the up and coming band Westbound 21 are finding sometimes dreams come true as they fight their way to the top.

They are comprised of four guys with ties to East Texas and "the British guy." 

"Max and I were playing acoustic shows around Nacogdoches separately. One day we decided that we could combine our talent so we created Westbound 21," said Cody Wayne, acoustic rhythm guitar and vocalist.

They decided on the name Westbound 21 as tribute to their many travels up and down Highway 21 West between Nacogdoches and College Station.  "We play bars all down 21, that's basically our main avenue of playing," said Max McRuiz, vocalist and lead guitarist.

"Ronnie joined the band as the drummer when he heard about Westbound 21 through Max. Max and Ronnie were both studying music at SFA during that time," said Wayne.

"Every since I was old enough to walk and talk I've wanted to play the drums," said Ronnie Godfrey, drummer.  About age 6, Godfrey, a Longview native, received a drum set from his father.  The lefthander taught himself to play a right handed kit.  "I grew up around a bunch of drummers.  My mom played in a country band when I was a little kid and she was good friends with her drummer.  Her best friend had a son who was a drummer and my dad played drums, so, I've always had an interest in it."

They call their music a blend of Texas Country and Southern Rock.

"It's a good mix of life stories and things that should happen, things that could happen.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, everything in between," said Wayne.

"It's like a new mix of old and new and everything in between.  It's a lot of high energy stuff.  We do Southern Rock and we do a lot of country stuff.  I like to say we do ‘Cowboy Rock' because it's a good mixture," said Wayne.

Bass player Lyndsey Torrez formed his first band in high school.  He studied Bio environmental Science at Texas A&M but his music is his passion.

"It's literally deep within my soul.  I'll talk about it for hours on end with anybody that will actually listen to me," said Torrez.  "I got started in sixth grade.  I actually was a violin player, was second chair and then we moved to another school district that didn't have that program.  I ended up picking up the guitar.  I actually got my performance type stuff in church doing a lot of praise and worship.  I was even in a Christian punk band."

"I'm a classical trained pianist and since 4 years old I can just remember learning and teaching myself how to play," said Nick Askew, who graduated from college last year.  He was born in Nashville, Tennessee, raised in England, found his way to East Texas, and just recently joined Westbound 21, however, he has played in various bands since age 16.  "We put on such an energetic show and everyone likes playing, loves doing it, and people can see that.  It's a good atmosphere to be in and we get the fans involved and they go home remembering what they've seen."

In a short period of time, Westbound 21 has formed a very close knit group.  "I would do anything for any one of those guys.  They're a great bunch of musicians and we're basically a big family," said McRuiz.

"Like with any kid, my parents tried to save me from being a musician, but they couldn't.  I wanted it too bad and so they figured ‘if you can't beat ‘em join ‘em,' said Godfrey.  In the 1990s, Ronnie's mother was a guitarist and vocalist for the country western band Texas Thunder.   Ronnie spent many weekends watching his mother perform and learning how the music business operated.  He moved to Nacogdoches after high school to study music education at SFA.

It has not been an easy road.  Each member has made personal sacrifices.

"Everybody's out partying and having a good time on the weekends, we're out traveling the roads getting an hour and half sleep, said Wayne.  "Don't get me wrong we have a good time, but you give up a lot."

Their hard work is paying off.  The band is making a name for itself and on May 19 they will perform at the George H. Henderson Jr. Exposition Center at Summer Fest Texas in Lufkin.  Westbound 21 will share the stage with notables like Robert Earl Keen, Dave Fenley & the Good Deal, and Bryan Harkness.

"We want to give a special thank you to the fans because without them we wouldn't be here.  It's the greatest feeling when someone actually comes up and tells you that they really appreciate your music and it has actually done something for them.  It's just a great feeling," said Askew.

"This is literally my life.  I went to school at SFA ‘Go Jacks' to learn to play percussion.  I teach school during the week, teach band, and on the weekends I get with Westbound 21.  So, music is literally my life and it's my inspiration, pure and simple," said Godfrey.

It is the second year for Summer Fest Texas and organizers are promising great family fun and entertainment.  In addition to live performances, there will also be a BBQ cookoff and an open motorcycle ride show and contest. 

Schedule of Events

11 a.m. Gates open to the public

1 p.m. Mondo Domo

3 p.m. Bryan Harkness

5 p.m. Westbound 21

7 p.m. Dave Fenley and the Good Deal

9 p.m. Robert Earl Keen

For more information visit East Texas Summer Fest, or call (936) 633-0349.

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