Some would call it fate. Others might chalk it up to coincidence. Either way, the story of Texas Renegade’s genesis seems more than random—and their new album, “Bad Dreams and Other Things,” proves the union was meant to be.
Consider this. Twins Tyson and Eli Carver, who were born in the Texas Hill Country town of Wimberley, moved to Durango, Colo., at age 14. That same year, Andy Bertelsen moved with his family to Wimberley. When the twins graduated high school, the lure of their hometown tugged them back—when a friend introduced them to their future bandmates, their course was set.
In Texas Renegade—the moniker their first guitarist bestowed on them at a high-school party— Bertelsen handles lead vocals, songwriting and guitar. Mandolinist/guitarist/backing vocalist Tyson and bassist Eli picked up their instruments at 20 and 19, respectively, after ditching fiddle lessons at age 13. The Carvers and Bertelsen formed Texas Renegade in 2002
Bertelsen’s voice, which could earn him honorary Braun brother status in Reckless Kelly, carries the nuances of a practiced, yet intuitive singer. With mandolin and harp as frequent lead instruments and Tyson’s harmonies, Texas Renegade creates a soulful, rootsy country-rock blend that places them squarely in the Americana realm; which is only fitting for a band whose formative influences include the Wallflowers, John Hiatt, Counting Crows, Emmylou Harris, the essential Texans and the classic rock their parents played.
“Bad Dreams and Other Things,” their third album, cemented their status among talents like The Band of Heathens, Jack Ingram, the aforementioned Reckless Kelly and similar artists who share deep Lone Star roots and hybrid sensibilities. And like many of those artists, they honed their skills under the tutelage of Kent Finlay at Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, where the Carvers, Bertelsen and earned degrees at Texas State University.
“Every one of my songs has some sort of story behind it,” Bertelsen notes. “That is to say, every single song stems from some actual event that has occurred. However, the extent can vary considerably from song to song.” Rarely, he admits, does he write a song that’s entirely based in reality. Which is not to say his lyrics aren’t personal—or meaningful.
At least some of his inspiration has to come from being so involved in the lives of his bandmates. “We like to think we have more fun than any other band on the scene right now,” says Tyson. “People always approach us and say they really enjoy the music, but they also enjoy the fact that we are having fun onstage. We are the true definition of a band. Everyone has equal say and we are a family of guys who really care about one another and love to play music together.”Adds Eli, “We have a lot of fun together on the road and have a very laid-back vibe when we’re together. Pretty much anything goes.”
“Anything” includes Camp, a fluffy canine described by Tyson as “half Lhasa-apso, a quarter Chihuahua and a quarter wolf,” who has traveled everywhere with the band for two years. “Some people think he has magical powers, but we just think he is the coolest dog in the world,” says Tyson. Adds Eli, “People try to steal him everywhere we go. There is a very good chance he is more famous than we are.”
Well, maybe for now. But once people get a chance to hear “Bad Dreams and Other Things,” Camp’s popularity may have to take a back seat to the band’s. He’ll still get to ride in his primo leather captain’s chair, though—unless they graduate to a bus, in which case, he’ll probably get two seats—and his own bunk.
Because, like the rest of these guys, he’s a Texas Renegade! ~