O.S. Grant is back town! And on Friday night, the legendary saxophone artist will be back to perform on the David Stewart Trucking Stage in Gonzales to kick off the Kenneth Stewart Trucking VIP Night at the Gonzales Inquirer’s Craft Beer Festival on Confederate Square.
Grant, who has played with some of the most legendary names in music history (B.B. King, Etta ‘At Last’ James, Johnny Taylor and Big Joe Turner to name but a few), is returning to his roots to perform from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Shiner Beer Tent.
“Oh man! To be playing and performing for everyone in Gonzales and from around the state of Texas—that’s cool man!” Grant said last week. “I promise you I will play with all of my heart. I want people to feel my music and touch their heart. They will definitely be entertained.”
Grant grew up in Gonzales, but he never aspired to play music while growing up as a child.
“Man, sports was my major; music was my minor and that came later as I was growing up,” Grant stated. “I played every sport: football, baseball, basketball, track. That’s who I was—I was an athlete. My grandson—Keiran Grant—he has my genes and he’s all everything in football down in Cuero.
“I never hung out with the band students—sports was my thing. But then in my junior year of high school I picked up my first horn, and I mean, it changed me,’’ Grant said. “I had never had any formal training or lessons—I didn’t even know how to read music. I just learned how to play on my own. Doing it that way, I developed my own style and sound. That’s who I am today.”
According to Grant, he tried out to be in a band and was about to get the gig, but then someone came along who had played in the high school band and Grant was suddenly on the outside looking in.
“I am very competitive and it made me mad,” Grant reflected. “I just got down and practiced and worked real hard. I developed my own style and sound based on what I feel in my heart. I wanted to play so others could feel what I am feeling when I played. That’s how I play.”
Grant started in the late Fifties and early Sixties, where he developed his own music and wrote his own songs. As he got older, he started playing with more experienced musicians and they taught him some of the professional tricks of the trade. He traveled all over Texas, and then started touring all over the country to play his saxophone and sing his favorite songs.
Grant said his favorite place to perform was at Charlie’s Playhouse, the biggest club in Austin back in the day.
“They used to have competitions there, and people from the University of Texas and all over would come to perform and to watch the competition,” he said. “I could never win one of those things.
“But then one day my mother passed away, and I was devastated. I ended up going to Austin to perform in the competition and I mean, man, I was just thinking of my mom and I played my heart out. I had tears running down my cheeks when I played that night.
“The man just came up shaking his head when I got done and he gave me the first-place money. I’ll never forget that night.”
Grant says his inspiration was the legendary Charley “Bird” Parker. But he says the one thing he remembers most is playing with Etta James, who sang “At Last”.
“We were touring with Miss James and man, could she sing,” he said. “I was sitting there one night and it hit me ‘Man, I’m playing with Etta James!’
“That was cool.”
Grant and his saxophone are famous throughout Gonzales and south central Texas. For those who want to see Grant perform, you can purchase the $50 VIP ticket which gets the holder into both the VIP night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday night and the Craft Beer Festival on Saturday—including an exclusive one-hour early entry into the Shiner Tent. The Saturday event goes from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature beers from over 10 different state and national breweries.
For more information, contact the Gonzales Inquirer at 830-672-2861, or on the weekend call 517-930-1368.