Brandon Whyde hails from Beech Grove, Ind. The birthplace of one Steve McQueen. Much like “The King of Cool,” Whyde tends to leave an impression with everything he does.

In high school he was filed in the yearbook under “most popular.” He wrestled on a team that was perennially state-ranked. As running back he was captain of the football team. Whyde also played baseball and ran track.

Around the same time, he decided to play music. That seed was planted much earlier by his father, who was always singing around the house. Music was Whyde’s saving grace when his father was killed by drunk driver when Whyde was still a teen. Discovering aural poets like Bob Dylan soon introduced a new world to Whyde beyond the confining conventions of Midwestern youth. He picked up a guitar and never looked back.

A brief stint at Indiana University gave way to a self-described apprenticeship in Nashville, Tenn.

“Every night you can go out to three different clubs, watch and talk with people, and learn so much,” Whyde says of Music City, U.S.A. “Everyone is so open there to lend a helping hand. I learned so much playing second fiddle to what they were doing. I tried to learn as much as I could.”

Whyde didn’t get his big break there. That came after he returned to Indiana. During a side-stage performance at an Indianapolis amphitheater, one of the featured performer’s guitarist liked what he heard from Whyde and invited him to his home to record some demos. A year later those recordings found their way to Josh Kelley, who also liked them enough to invite Whyde to record with him.

“He’s like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits got stuck in a blender, and out came Brandon Whyde,” Kelley says.

Subsequent sessions yielded a 10-song CD that showcases the soul-searing exorcism Whyde projects not just with an impassioned, roughhewn voice that both breaks and melts, but a vintage mien punctuated by dark, curly locks and piercing blue eyes where every emotion experienced can be traced.

Since recording with Kelley, Whyde has opened for the nationally-known singer-songwriter on a month-long tour. It was an opportunity for him to experience new things and learn some too.

“I’m a natural-born people-watcher, so it’s been neat to get around to these different places and notice the similarities between all people,” he says. “Getting out and moving around, you find out we’re pretty much the same all over.”

“I mainly draw on past experiences,” Whyde says of his muses. “I’m moved more by the motors of people and telling a story that perhaps can be healing for another person. It’s been neat to meet more people. Everything else is just coloration.”

Whyde hopes for more such prospects to stay inspired.

“Right now I’d love the opportunity to just stay on the road and keep moving,” he says. “There’s nothing better than that for me. I don’t what it is. It’s just in my personality to wander somewhere new every night.”

A restless soul. Just like McQueen.

“It’s that era that I really love,” Whyde says of that bygone era. “There’s a coolness to it all that’s not around anymore.”

Except in Whyde.

– Wade Coggeshall (excerpt from

Chris Weller plays upright bass.
Benji Ballard plays drums.