Introducing: Bruce W. Derr

Last week I got an email from Earl Pickens suggesting I check out the music of Bruce W. Derr, a friend of his and fellow Central Pennsylvanian. Since Earl has a pretty good set of ears, I happily took him up on it. Turns out the 2 musicians share a zip code and have developed a mutual admiration for one another’s tunes as of late. Now they’re sharing live dates and blogging about one another. Who knows, maybe Earl will show him how to ride a unicycle?

Besides all that though, it was very apparent within a few seconds of the “Sunshine” stream over at his myspace that Derr’s got some serious talent. The guy would fall into the category of “rock star who’s not yet a rock star” - his songs have a seasoned, confident swagger you don‘t often find in undiscovered talent. The thing is, he’s not new to writing, performing, and recording….it’s just been awhile. Derr’s newly sober and played his first gig in 7 years back in October (opening up for Marah, no less), and currently seems to be in the middle of one of those wild bursts of prolificacy that you hear about artists going through when they’re peaking. I can’t even keep up with what’s going on over at his myspace - it seems like every time I check in there there are great new songs appearing, and other great ones gone just like that.

In this modern era where anyone can pick up a guitar, record their music via computer, and post it online, Derr still does things the old-fashioned way - straight to 24-track Tascam or 16-track Yamaha. No computers, no pro-tools. He records everything himself - guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, mandolin, banjo - basically anything he can get his hands on. A true one-man band. In one of the most ambitious uses of time I can think of, he recently recorded an entire album in one 24-hour burst of creativity. It sounds like a story in the making, and deservedly so. All parts were recorded, mixed, and mastered in one day, down to the minute. He then waited 2 weeks, listened again, and sequenced it. VoilĂ ! A new record was born.

It’s called, appropriately, The Time Of Day, and it never once comes across as something haphazardly thrown together. Hints of 60’s pop, 90’s alternative rock,, and folk-rock coexist beautifully among the 12 songs. In fact, everything I’ve heard from him is exciting in the same way - he also has a 2007 record, Ship A Sail, that’s full of more sharply written, endlessly catchy tunes. As of right now, Derr is self-releasing his music through his own Midnite Birds Records. If you happen to pass through Lewisburg, PA you can pick up his CDs at The Lucky Lucky Giftshop. Otherwise you can pick them up by contacting him directly ( - so if you enjoy these tunes, please do. Bruce W. Derr is a name you could very well be hearing for years to come.

MP3 :: Banker Alcoholics (highly recommended!)
(from The Time Of Day)

MP3 :: Abilene
(from Ship A Sail)

MP3 :: Sunshine
(unreleased single)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bruce W. Derr will surely be the next big hit to come from this area! You really must check out his music. You will be glad you did!