If life is about evolution, Breting Engel could have a great conversation with Charles Darwin. Engel’s life has undergone so many dramatic shifts, it’s almost as if it should be measured in generations, not years.
His Big Bend Records debut, BRETING ENGEL (Oct. 22, 2013), is the latest chapter for this captivating folk-Americana artist. But it’s a 180-degree spin from his first professional musical incarnation, as a punk rocker backing wildman Ernie Locke in legendary Kansas City band the Sin City Disciples. That band imploded after three years on the road, just as they received major-label interest.
Engel then headed to Austin and jumped into the local scene. But after several years of slogging in musical trenches, he grew tired of his impoverished lifestyle. So the high-school dropout decided to chuck it for law school. He also pursued extracurricular studies, i.e., Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, who inspired him to write his own songs.
Moving to Montana and becoming an environmental litigator, Engel also morphed into an engaging singer-songwriter. Friends even started encouraging him to revisit the idea of a music career, but it took a near-fatal bacterial infection to make him realize they were right. Life, he discovered, is too short to defer doing what you love.
Thirteen years after leaving Austin, Engel quit his law practice and returned, guitar and songs in hand, to resume his original dream. He arrived in the summer of 2011, leaving the Northern Rockies just in time for the worst heatwave in Texas history. But he was finally home again — and quickly jumped back into the city’s music community.
One year later, Engel shared a three-month residency at the Continental Club Gallery with pals Brian Standefer, Dony Wynn, Jeff Plankenhorn and Gary Calhoun James. In 2013, they entered Standefer’s Screen Door Studios to record Engel’s album.
As he prepared to celebrate its release and the anniversary of his musical rebirth in Austin, Engel also prepared for another birth: a baby girl. To make room, he and his wife and their three cats finally left their 1952 Spartan trailer for an actual house in Buda.
But no matter what else his future holds, Engel knows he’ll never again forsake the music.