Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Brad Absher!
Absher has definitely lived. Born in Tulsa to two school teachers, he began moving around the country when his dad decided to try work in oil instead of the classroom. His father’s job ultimately took the family across the world to Iran, and Absher’s mother, determined to join him even though she’d never been on an airplane, took her young toddler and boarded. The Abshers spent three years in Tehran.
In 1969, the family returned to the States––to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Absher began kindergarten and stayed until the family moved back to a town just outside of Tulsa in time for him to start high school. Then one day, while spending time at his grandparents’ house, he made a discovery that changed his life. “I found an electric guitar under one of the beds. I can still remember the smell of it,” he says. “I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. I was bored––boredom was my enemy. So when I saw that thing, I thought, ‘Okay. I got to find out about this.’
Witnessing Elvis Presley and then BB King concerts sealed the deal. When Absher’s mom bought him a Silvertone, there was no turning back. “I never felt by myself after I got that guitar––and I used to feel by myself a lot,” Absher says. “I didn’t like that feeling. But my guitar was just like a playmate.”
When Absher started playing in clubs after high school, he joined other bands in Tulsa. He loved being part of a team, but his singing voice demanded a spotlight: Honeyed but sometimes gut-wrenchingly haggard like only a soul shouter’s croon can be, Absher’s vocals coupled with his tasteful electric playing made him a favorite front man in the vibrant Tulsa music scene throughout the 80s and 90s. A move to Houston turned into a 15-year detour––and the conquering of another regional circuit. In 2013 and again in 2014, Absher was the city’s International Blues Challenge Regional Winner. He went on to represent Houston at the prestigious IBCs in Memphis, where he competed against hundreds of bands from across the globe. Absher and his then-band Swamp Royale were finalists that year, making their Houston fans proud and opening up a new fan base that spread beyond the Gulf Coast.
Today, back in Tulsa, Absher is reconnecting to his roots––and discovering just how much of an impact he made there two decades ago. Young musicians now swap stories about sneaking into Brad Absher shows. “It’s wild, hearing that––being the old guy now,” Absher says with a laugh. “I like it.
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