Graham Wilkinson & Shawn Nelson:
The Story of 2fer1:
It all started when Shawn’s girlfriend (now wife) was like, “Hey Shawn, you have to meet this guy, he’s a musician!”
“Oh yeah? What’s he play?”
“Oh, he plays the same instrument as you, and he writes songs just like the songs you write, oh and he kind of looks like you too..."
Exactly what a struggling musician in Austin wants to hear from his girlfriend, right?
Lucky for us, they gave the friendship a shot anyway at one of Shawn’s famous jam-parties in his South Austin garage back in 2004. Since then, their friendship has grown a bond as strong as brothers. So strong, that they decided to team up and start a singer/songwriter duo, called “2fer1”.
|Graham & Shawn, at Bungalow, Photo by Letitia Smith|
Both Graham and Shawn have waded through the Austin music scene for over a decade collecting many victories along the way. They were founders of the Honeydew Revue in 06-07. As most
musicians know, bands morph as the seasons change, so with the disbanding of Honeydew Revue, the talented song writers Graham and Shawn stuck together. In January 2015 they took a tour up to Nashville, it was on this trip that they decided to record an album at Sun Studio.
Recently, 2fer1 has opened for their good friend Hayes Carll, played at local favorites like the
Continental Club and continue their residency every Wednesday at Bungalow on Rainey St.
Shawn and Graham have grown with each other and also independently. And yes, as you would expect, there is a bit of friendly competition.
As dynamic as the Austin music scene is, these two remain true to their roots. They carry with them a microcosm reminiscent of South Austin circa 2004. Their children and dogs play, their wives hangout, and they even drink whiskey out of each others' boots. They are basically all around bad asses.
|Photo by Graham W.|
Getting to Sun Studio:
On that tour to Nashville in January 2015, and with a combination of serendipity, destiny and luck, 2fer1 came to a head. Graham and Shawn found themselves touring the renowned Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The dive bar owner from the gig the night before said "all you have to do is bring a CD of your music in and you can do the tour for free." So,
naturally, they did. After the typical walk through, Shawn and Graham stopped for a few minutes to soak in the experience.
Sun Studio was founded by Sam Phillips (also known as the place where Rock & Roll was invented.) This is where Elvis Presley was found, where Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and many more all came to create masterpieces through the 50's and 60's. And it was by that same token of
serendipity, destiny, and luck that 'The Million Dollar Quartet' (an impromptu jam session with Presley, Cash, Perkins, and Lewis) occurred here.
It was more than evident to both Graham and Shawn while they were in the studio that the incredible energy of those legendary
musicians still lingered in the room. All the famous vocalists stood on that little black tape X to record their crying souls, their art, their music and their stories.
|Patrick Herzfeld, Photo by Shawn Nelson|
|Photo by Shawn Nelson|
"I got chills, I started to feel tears in my eyes so I looked over at Graham," - Shawn
"I started to get all choked up, so I looked at Shawn and he was gettin' all choked up too" -Graham
Their intensely surreal moment was interrupted by the tour guide: "Oh and you know we still operate as a studio, so you can come record here"
They just looked at each other and didn't have to say a word.
Three months later, Shawn and Graham were back at Sun with the full band this time! Patrick Herzfeld on drums, Morgan Thompson on Bass and of course Graham WIlkinson and Shawn Nelson on guitar and vocals.
After loading into the studio, guitar in hand; inspired (and maybe even a little intimidated by the photographs on the walls,) 2fer1 recoded their debut album at the birthplace of rock & roll. The album was recorded entirely live; old school - just like they did back in Sun's prime time.
And it's always a chain of events that brings your dreams to fruition. That moment when you look in your rear view mirror and finally understand how all of the dots connect and how your hard work, dedication and unfaltering belief to push forward has finally paid off. This is success.
Shawn helped Graham break into the Austin music scene back in 2004 by getting him his first gig at Trophy’s. This shady dive bar on South Congress has since been reincarnated as C-boys.
Graham describes his love for songwriting as a necessity for his sanity.
Shawn describes music as a spiritual experience.
|Photo by Patrick Herzfeld|
The Album starts off strong with Shawn's poetic lyrics and a
satisfying combination of raspy and smooth voices. Track two brings it up a notch with nostalgic chord progressions and lyrics that hit your heart, "we've got to fight to believe that you are me, and I am you" this was Shawn and Graham's favorite song to record. Graham's raspy voice offers a delightful surprise in track three with "Funny Feeling." Track four brings in traditional bass lines and lyrical love notes to their wives. "Oh, Tonight" is Graham's favorite; Shawn wrote this song on their way up to Nashville. "Ain't no takin' no easy road, there ain't no shortcuts that I know" Perfect
metaphor of the journey they'd travelled. Then they spice it up with a funky beat, a story about New Orleans and some serious drinkin' songs. And of course, these rebel hippie cowboys tie off the album with a good ol' "Forget the haters" tune.
Well, you're just going to have to hear it for yourself.
|Shawn Nelson & Graham Wilkinson, Continental Club, Photo by Letitia Smith|