Gary Austin grew up under the fire and brimstone of the Nazarene Church on The South Coast of Texas amongst the hurricanes and oil rigs and he breathed the sandstorms of West Texas. Determined to be like his heroes Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, Austin tied a jump rope to his plastic guitar, ran it into his mother’s overnight bag and invited his neighbor Cookie over to hear his rendition of “Back In The Saddle Again.” When the young girl asked Gary why the rope was tied to the guitar running into the bag, he said, “That’s not an overnight bag. That’s my loud speaker.”
Sixty-six years later, not much has changed. Though Austin made his mark on the world as the groundbreaking guru of improvisation who founded Los Angeles’ famed Groundling Theatre (an institution which boasts many of Saturday Night Live’s major players), he’s never given up on fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming a singing cowboy.
Gary is releasing his debut album, Gary Austin The Traveler, both a poignant and comical distilling of
a lifetime bred in the heart of the heartland and his days on the cutting edge of American culture.
The Traveler harkens the story- telling genius of Merle Haggard combined with the sharpness
of Terry Allen.
The road leading up to The Traveler has been hard. But Austin maintains the same youthful exuberance he had as a kid and he continues to be a role model, mentor and moral guide to aspiring actors nation wide. Ever since he left the Groundlings in 1979, Austin has never wavered, always making it a point to stand up for what he believes in.
Inspired by the kinship he found in Kris Kristofferson’s music, Austin began writing songs in the late 60s. And in the 1980s, during the “Urban Cowboy fad,” he had a radio hit on an L.A. station with “Freeway Chicken,” a comedic song that documents the true story of a truck with a load of yard birds that overturned on Highway 101, and their evolutionarily enduring progeny – a track he re-recorded live at the Groundling Theatre for The Traveler a year ago.
Produced by long time friend and noted musician, Matt Cartsonis (John McEuen, Van Dyke Parks, Warren Zevon) and his wife and vocal coach Wenndy MacKenzie, The Traveler is a collection of deeply personal Texas Country songs filled with both heartfelt sincerity and humor. The track “No Left Turn,” which recounts the absurd story of his 1969 Ford truck that wouldn’t turn left, showcases Austin’s trademark wit that hearkens that of John Prine, while “I Can’t Remember That Song” is a sentimental retrospective about the fundamentalist weirdness and insanity he endured during his childhood
For the past thirty years, Austin has performed his songs and stories across the U.S. to critical acclaim. His character and words, both captivating and hilarious plus the release of The Traveler kicks it up 100 proof. An album which perfectly captures both the person and the performer, it is a milestone achievement in the life of a man who is a true survivor and major force on the world with a legacy that will continue for decades to come.