The 19th & a St. Band is an example of a group that has spawned into local celebrity by way of Huntsville’s musical venues. The band has played at local hot spots including Lizard’s, Fat Boys, Murski’s, Humphrey’s and Kaldi’s. They also played for this year’s freshmen move in day at Sam Houston Village. How does a group of guys from different fraternities, and cities including Wimberley, The Woodlands and San Antonio combine to create such a massive buzz in such a short time?
It all began at jam sessions with Billy Sheeley (rhythm guitar, harmonica and vocals) and “Papa” Dan Nichols (lead guitar). In the past, Sheeley dabbled in the art of music and grew up watching his mother play guitar who opened for Lyle Lovett. He didn’t become an efficient player until he met Nichols and began creating music. Nichols has been playing guitar for nine years.
“My idol is Jimi Hendrix,” said Nichols. ” That’s why I fly on the guitar.”
The two began playing in the Russell Hall on 19th St. where they lived. In the hall, they did everything from writing songs to recording on a 4-track recorder. Sheeley and Nichols played at the open mike night at Kaldi’s for their first live performance.
“I was nervous as hell,” said Nichols. “I had never played in front of people.”
For about a year, the two played open at mike nights until they got their first show at Mersky’s. Their first show was very pivotal because it was there that Sheeley and Nichols would meet the key ingredient to form the power trio. Zach Shanks (drummer) saw Sheeley and Nichols playing at the open mike night at Mersky’s and literally forced himself into the band.
“It was the first time I had heard them play, ” said Shanks. “I told them they needed a drummer.”
With the addition of Shanks, the trio officially became the 19th & a St. Band.
“It only seemed to be the appropriate choice,” said Sheeley. The band now had 23 years of musical study combined and played their first show all together at Lizard’s.
The Huntsville music scene has done wonders for the 19th & a St. Band. Though they have exceeded their humble beginning at Kaldi’s they still have much respect for local music and open mike nights.
“Colin (Lizard’s Open-Mike Night MC) and the local acts have been taking off this semester,” said Sheeley. “There is more energy and promotion.”
On August 29, 2006 the band played at the Jolly Fox. To those watching, it was a performance but for the 19th & a St. Band, it was a landmark in their career. Friends of the band members told them that
the Fox was the place to play at, but since they’ve played there things have changed.
“The coolest thing is that we now have to re-establish our goals,” said Sheeley. “It used to be to play at the Fox but now that we’ve done that we’re looking to expand our music.”
The boys are beginning to record their debut album after only being together officially for five months. Zack “Cosmo” Adams has most recently joined the band to graduate it to a quartet. Adams went to
high school with Sheeley and after playing through the songs really caught on. He travels to play at the big shows that 19th & a St. Band play in.
All of the members of the 19th & a St. Band are into good positive music and love a lot of different types of music. A quote that has stayed with the band is by one of their influences Bob Marley. “He who feels it, knows it.”
“I’ve never really had an outlet until I started making my own music but I always felt it,” said Sheeley. “
The 19th & a St. Band are lovers of all music. Their influences from classic rock, country and reggae are what give the band the ingredients to create their unique sound. Not only do they play their own songs they occasionally will cover Sublime and Tom Petty.
“Sublime is essential to our music,” said Sheeley.
The 19th & a St. Band sticks to what they love and originality when much of commercial music sticks to what is the best selling at the time.
“Something is going wrong with MTV and CMT. You gotta keep playing and you gotta play your own music,” said Sheeley. “You can’t play others music all the time.”
The 19th & a St. Band would like to thank Fat Boys, The Trophy Case and the Our Little Slice of Heaven Recording Studio for all their support.