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Art & Life with William vonReichbauer

Today we’d like to introduce you to William vonReichbauer.

William, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was eight or nine years old, living with my parents in Nashville, TN when I decided I wanted to play guitar. I don’t remember exactly what possessed me to first take up the instrument – it might have been the proximity to The Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville music scene or the ever-expanding influence of MTV in the 1980s – but my mind was made up without so much as having ever held a guitar. No doubt, I must’ve nagged my mother into submission, the first evening she took me to a guitar shop. In my memory, it was huge with old hardwood floors and guitars hung on the walls all the way to the ceiling. The sales clerk sat me up on a tall, wooden barstool and dropped in my lap the biggest dreadnaught I’d ever seen. I could barely get my arms around the beast to plunk out a couple notes on the open strings.

“How’s that feel?” he asked.

“Good,” I muttered. That was a lie. It felt awkward and uncomfortable and terrible. But it didn’t matter in the slightest; I was hooked.

A year or so later, my family relocated to Raleigh, NC, and soon after, my parents gifted me a guitar of my own. I spent most of my middle & high school years playing guitar and singing/growling in a thrash/death metal band with my best friends. I left home for my senior year of high school to study classical guitar at the North Carolina School of the Arts (now the University of North Carolina School of the Arts) where I would stay throughout college, studying guitar and later, music composition.

Eight years ago, while living in North Carolina again after several years out of state, a friend and former classmate contacted me and asked if I knew anyone who played upright bass, as his band had lost their bassist. I was between jobs at the time and I figured I could probably learn how to play well enough in time for an audition, so I told him that, yes, I played and would love to get together. I rented a bass that same afternoon and began practicing, and a few weeks later, I would begin playing with The Darnell Woodies. Several months later, I would also join North Carolina honky tonkers, The Bo-Stevens.

I relocated to Houston six years ago to join my then-fiancée, now-wife, who had moved six months prior for her job. Houston has a really great music community; I have enjoyed many really cool performance opportunities here and I’ve been able to meet and play with so many wonderful musicians. In addition to being a musician, I am also a middle school math and science teacher at a small, private school in town.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am a guitarist, upright bassist, vocalist, & songwriter. My most recent project is my new band, William and the Texas Starlight. We play classic country and old honky tonk tunes and I have some original music that I’m adding to the mix and plan to record this year. I also play in a Rockabilly/Blues/Honky Tonk power-trio, Mean .44s. We’ve been on hiatus for the past couple years, but we’ve recently come out of retirement to play some shows and do some recording. In 2017, I released a pair of psychedelic rock albums with George Kinney & the Golden Dawn and Lone Star Hippie on Montrose Records and I also play with Johnny Rioux & the Seven One Three and Tres Blondies.

I also frequently work with artists from other disciplines, most frequently with my wife, Heather vonReichbauer’s dance company, Bones and Memory Dance. Since moving to Houston, I have been very fortunate to collaborate with Frame Dance, Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, Laura Gutierrez, Jane Weiner, Ashley Horn, Maggie Lasher, Jhon R. Stronks, Jasmine Hearn, and the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective.

I work in a variety of styles and across different art forms. Artistically, I strive to be both authentic and engaging. As for the audience experience, I hope that folks walk away from my performances feeling like their lives have been enhanced by the experience.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
Houston has a vibrant and diverse arts community. However, for most independent artists, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to make a living entirely from freelancing. Artist pay hasn’t increased much over the years, while cost of living climbs steadily upward. Cities can help foster the arts by offering affordable rehearsal and performance venues, providing funding opportunities for both organizations and individual artists, and by creating projects that showcase and promote artists’ work on a large scale to a wide audience.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
The best way to keep up with where I’m performing is to follow me on social media – @williamandthetexasstarlight on Instagram and Facebook and @williamvonr on Instagram and Twitter – and visit my websites, and A couple upcoming performances of note: William and the Texas Starlight will be performing the last Thursdays of February, March, and April at Goodnight Charlie’s in Montrose, I’ve got some exciting upcoming performances with Mean .44s and Bonnie Montgomery, and I will perform with the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston on February 14th.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lynne Lane, Pin Lim, Amy Smith, Beth Cosme

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