Dustin Massey: Fort Worth’s Music Scene, Songwriting About Mental Health, and Finally Doing It
Click here to view the full photo album of Dustin Massey's performance at the 2022 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.
Ever since hearing “Wannabe” on Spotify, I knew I wanted to check out a live performance from Dustin Massey. I know I’m just starting out with these published interviews, but I cannot accurately reiterate how friendly and down-to-earth this guy is (both as a musician and a human). Dustin is known well as an artist that can transcend multiple music genres, mixing funk, soul, southern rock, country, and blues.
His 5 piece ensemble rocked out a packed, warm event tent filled with a drunk and celebratory crowd as they escaped a windy 28-degree night in Fort Worth after the rodeo let out. He brings Fort Worth’s “Funky Town” moniker back into the music scene after decades of hiatus.
In this interview with Texas Country Tour, Dustin Massey shares his thoughts on the local music scene, songwriting genuinely about mental health, and finally performing his music after years of deferment. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Granbury an hour away. I was mostly just an athlete because I'm a large human. So I was put into sports and that was all I did. I didn't do any music or anything, but I always loved it. I competed in a little bit of college basketball and finished school, ultimately moving to Colorado to go to school again.
In Colorado, I started practicing a lot of writing and I really wanted to play. I also knew I would move back to Texas eventually. I moved to Fort Worth in 2018. Chris Watson playing on keys tonight and others were people I looked up to and I wanted to contribute to the Fort Worth music scene.
I remember when I was young seeing Cody Canada, Jonathan Tyler, and Quaker City Nighthawks, like those rock and roll bands. These guys can play in the scene but they don't have to give a twangy-country sound. I love country music but that’s not all I do. Those experiences gave me the itch to play rock and roll and be accepted in the scene that I grew up loving. It's just cool to be here. I love Fort Worth and I believe it’s the best music city in Texas right now.
What is your specific songwriting process like?
I love to play guitar. I spend a lot of time jamming and writing melodies on guitar while eventually singing over them. Every song I write is a hundred percent very raw and organic. I try to write the truth about what I’m feeling, turning my music into an autobiography. I write all the time and about 98% of the time the songs aren’t published to the world.
Your songs cover topics like self-confidence and mental health. How has your personal life experience impacted your music?’
It took a lot of getting over myself and stop putting on a front because I was terrified to do music for the longest time. It finally came to the point in my life that I didn’t care what others may think. People may not like my music but I had to do it for me. It’ll be a blessing if someone cares for my music. I’ve always kept my gratitude higher than my expectations. I try not to forget why I’m doing all of this. No matter how small my footprint on the music scene is, I’m happy to know I’m finally doing it!
I have incredible musicians that are willing to play with me. I’m humbled with that reflection. If you rank us five guys performing together, I was the worst musician on that stage tonight.
As an artist, how do you measure success for yourself?
Anyone willing to care any bit about my songs. “Wannabe” was the song that took off for me and I’ve heard positive feedback on it. There are a couple of hundred people here tonight and if only one person came up to me and complimented my performance; that would do it. Also, I cannot say enough about how much I love having the opportunity to perform with these amazing musicians. Those two things are success to me.
You just performed in front of a packed rodeo crowd this evening. Knowing what you know now, what would you tell the Dustin Massey of 2012?
Shoot, man. Quit giving yourself endless excuses and reasons not to do it. Practice, believe, and just do it! Quit being scared because it doesn’t matter, you know? I could’ve hurried up and been doing this a lot sooner, but it’s all part of the process.
I wouldn't change any of it because I never thought I was gonna get the chance to do nights like these. It's a lot of fun and I had a blast. I don't know if you could tell. *Laughter*
What are you hoping to add to the music genre?
Authenticity! I have a rule where I only put a song out if it’s 100% me. That’s when you really know if you belong in this space. You asked me about 2012. I used to play all the time. I would go to Stony LaRue, Casey Donahue, Randy Rogers, and Wade Bowen shows. All the shows that everybody knows. I would try to sound like them, but what was the chance I was gonna have any type of opportunity to play music if I wanted to sound like other people. I want to add myself being raw and hopefully people will both accept and enjoy it. I want to keep on performing as long as people will have us.
I know Massey refers to his music as “rock and roll” but he well deserves a spot in the country genre for his art that has so many influences. As stated before, Dustin Massey is beyond friendly and borderline goofy. He does his own thing and I can see the contentness in his eyes when he gets the opportunity to perform his music to all those that listen. He’s able to work an inebriated crowd like a true professional.
Accordingly, this was the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert. Ever. Knowing my day job is in education, Dustin asked me immediately as he leaped off stage at the end of his gig if he and his band “passed the test?” with an insurmountable level of enthusiasm. So yes, Dustin, y’all aced that test.
You can connect with Dustin Massey on social media: his Twitter is @DustinMassey_ and his Instagram is @DustinMassey. Purchase some fantastic merchandise from his online store and visit his website to check out his next performance near you.