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
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