As a kid Coby Wier wanted to be a drummer, so he banged on pots and pans because his parents wouldn’t buy him a drum set. Growing up the son of legendary Texas musician Rusty Wier, there was always a guitar laying around, but young Coby wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until he was a teenager, when he saw guitarist John Inmon working his magic alongside his dad, that Coby became a six-string disciple. The fire fully lit, he would lend a hand on the road during the summer months, loading and unloading gear while picking up guitar lessons from musicians he helped. By his late teens, Coby was joining his father on stage, first for a song or two, then a half show, and before long, he was his dad’s lead guitar player.
Young and full of piss and vinegar, he and his brother saw a lot, running the gauntlet of big festivals and dive bars with the elder Wier. But working with his father wasn’t always roses; the arrogance of youth tends not to mix well with grizzled wisdom.
“He and I would get into some fight, and both of us would forget what it was about," Coby says. "Eventually one of us would call the other one and ask, ‘What is it we’re fighting about?’ Then we’d be off and at it again. I was a young punk that thought I knew everything, and of course I didn’t.”
In addition to playing with Rusty, who died of cancer in 2009, Coby did stints with Bonnie Bishop, Bleu Edmondson and others, bouncing around, never going out on his own. There was definitely a hint of prodigal son — living up to a legend can be an albatross for anyone trying to step out on their own.
“He left a big impression on a lot of people," Coby says. "There were huge shoes to fill and for a long time I fought that demon. I wanted to disassociate myself from him and go down my own road.”
Eventually Coby chose to hang it up for a more conventional living, taking multiple jobs and raising his two girls. But musical destinies have a funny way of chasing you down, and Coby's finally caught up with him in his mid-40s, using his daughter as the conduit.
“She remembered me playing Gruene Hall when she was little and one day asked, ‘Dad, why don’t you play anymore,'" Coby recalls. "I told her, 'Well, I want to be here with you,' and she responded, ‘You work all the time and aren’t here anyway, you might as well do something you love.'”
That innocent slap to the face had Coby putting out the call to Facebook, saying that he had 18 original songs in the can and was ready to record. Longtime friend and Roger Creager's bass player, Stormy Cooper, responded. Cooper, owner of Stormy Cooper Media, a musical production company out of Houston, took Coby into the studio and in a couple of days, the two had hammered out what would become his first album, Seven. It’s a record strong in guitar-driven Texas blues, instrumentals and plenty of hat tips to his father. But tracks like “On My Own" and “I Won’t Break” are clearly his own, documenting the journey to where he is today.
Fast forward two years and Coby has managed to assemble his own band consisting of Jimmy McFeeley on bass, Steve Littleton playing keys and Kelly Test on drums.
The Coby Wier Band made its debut last weekend at Larry Joe Taylor’s Rhymes & Vines Texas Music Festival in Stephenville.
Things couldn’t have gone much better; the band sold all the CDs on hand within 20 minutes.
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“I was surprised I didn’t break down and cry; it was that emotional," Coby says. "Tommy Alverson, Larry Joe Taylor and others were all there with us, and these people have been watching me since I was 15. It was family again and it was special.”
The band will make their second debut this Saturday at Poor David’s Pub. Coby is no stranger to the intimate listening room and its history; he and his dad recorded the live album Rusty and Son at Poor David’s years ago. Those who attend Saturday’s show could snag a copy of that CD, which is likely to end up a collectors' item. Expect lots of family stories to go with the mix of original songs and Rusty Wier staples. In jumping from sideman to frontman, Coby hopes to lean on all those years watching his father.
“I remember him doing shows where nobody was paying attention, nobody seemed to care," Coby says. "But he’d talk, sing some songs and connect with people. By the end of the night, he would have them wrapped around his finger. He treated his fans, other musicians, and everyone in this business with kindness and respect. That’s the biggest lesson I learned from him.”
Poor David’s Pub is at 1313 South Lamar St. Tickets start at $15. Doors open at 7:45 p.m.