In 2004 a new band was born.....all because a friend needed some help. Sam Bentley got a call asking if he could put a band together for one gig at Giddy Ups in south Austin. He called some musician friends who readily agreed to play....."Just one gig". Were they ever in for a surprise!! The band....while it has changed a little....has rarely slowed down since that first "just one gig"!

But, why would anyone call Sam? Well, it seems Sam was not a new-comer to the world of Texas country music!

Born in the small north Texas town of Olney, Sam was always fascinated with music as he was growing up. His Mother bought him his first guitar (a Silvertone f-hole from the Sears catalog) to encourage that love of music. Now, we're sure there were times later on that Mrs. Bentley had wished she'd bought him a bike instead. Sam, though, decided that guitar was best gift ever.

Charles, Sam's oldest brother, was one of the biggest fans of country music Sam has ever known. That influence led to country music being the first Sam played or sang. His neighbor loaned copies of old 78's by Lefty Frizzell and Jimmy Rodgers for Sam to listen to.....styles you can still hear in Sam's singing. But, getting hold of some Hank Williams records was the final clincher to Sam's love of country music.

Of course, there was the time in high school when Sam and three friends formed their first band, The Shadows. Even though Sam "was country when country wasn't cool", country took the back seat to some good old rock-n-roll. The Shadows did a lot of Buddy Holly hits and even some of the early Beatles music. Does Sam still remember how to play "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"? Ask him sometime and he might surprise you!

In college, Sam started majoring in music and did a bit of church music as well. Life usually changes everyone's plans and Sam is no different. There was a career to get started and a family to raise. But, there was still music as he played with different groups including a folk-rock group and a rather large country band down on the Texas coast. But, the playing was sporadic. Then, in the late eighties, it became a little more regular. He would sit in with friends around Austin and Bastrop playing the lap steel and a little single neck pedal steel. He was always more comfortable, though, singing and playing the rhythm guitar.

In 2003, he decided to step away from the steel and up to the microphone......strumming that guitar all the way! He started getting active in the Austin music scene. Several friends had bands and he'd go to their gigs. They were almost always nice enough to ask him to sing a few songs which allowed him to work on his singing and his style. He perfected what he learned by attending singer-songwriter nights and even fronting a band at a singles dance.

With all this history, it's no surprise he was called on for "just one gig" with a band he put together and cleverly called "The Sam Bentley Band".

Since the beginning, Sam has always been quick to point out he isn't the only person on stage. He's had some of the greats on stage with him including the Steel Hall of Famer, Jim Grabowske who played with Sam for almost two years. Today, the group has a new name, "Sam Bentley and His Honky-Tonk Band". The band is made up of Wesley Downey on bass, Jerry Sharp on drums, Allen Kentfield on pedal-steel, and Jerry Don Motley on lead guitar and vocals.....all are "cream of the crop" with long musical resumes. Sam feels honored to be able to call them his friends as well as his band.

The story continues. Sam and The Honky-Tonk Band are going to keep performing good country music as along as they can. They're earning new fans every time they play and are working on a live CD recorded at a local club. They just keep going on......and on.....and on.....

Carole Buhl - www.TexasAndMusic.com                                                                              | Band Photos by John Cearley