Over the years I’ve talked to a lot of talented musicians, artists, songwriters and just all-around cool people. This artist spotlight is no different as I took a moment to talk to Keith Shipman of the Frisco-based band Cast Iron Soul. With a long history of playing guitar, and good friends in the city of Frisco, Keith has a lot to share about the local music scene, his passion for music and why the band chose the name Cast Iron Soul.
LifeStyle Frisco: What got you into playing music?
Keith Shipman: I’ve loved music since I can remember. I got my first guitar when I was thirteen years old and taught myself how to play. I used to set my cassette recorder (we older folks remember those!) next to my radio and record the songs off the top 40 station in Kansas City. I’d play them back, pause and try to learn them a piece at a time. I always leaned towards guitar music. If it had a great lead guitar or powerful chord progressions I was hooked! I played in a few different bands and some obligatory high school garage bands. Some of them actually did pretty well. We even did a little recording while in these bands.
LsF: How do you know the guys from Cast Iron Soul?
KS: We actually all go to church together at St. Philip’s Episcopal in Frisco. I met Scott Brooks, one of our guitarists, one day and started talking guitars. He mentioned there were several people at church that played so we organized a once-a-month jam session in our youth room at the time. We probably had 15-20 people show up with a variety of instruments in those first several sessions. The five of us in Cast Iron Soul came out of that. We just became really good friends and gelled really well with each other.
LsF: How did you come up with name Cast Iron Soul?
KS: We actually just changed our name recently. There are a lot of people out there that will remember us as Philipalooza. That’s what we called our Saturday jam sessions when we first started. That name just stuck and we went with it. We really only played for free at certain festivals (Frisco Freedom Fest, Celina Balloon Festival, and others) and at our church. Not very long ago we decided we wanted to play some other places and thought a name change was in order. Believe me, we kicked around a bunch of potential names! Cast Iron Soul was actually thrown out there by our drummer, Leo Fox. It comes from a cover song we play by a band called Jamestown Revival. Their song California (Cast Iron Soul) is a song we cover pretty regularly. I read an article where they were asked about the song and they commented that the more you cook with cast iron the better it tastes, and the more you experience in life the better life is. That experience is the spice of life! I thought that was pretty cool and we went with it! But it was a group decision for sure. Scott, Leo, guitarist, Drew DeMoss, bassist, Art Corcoran and myself always make decisions as a group. That’s important to us and keeps us close together.
LsF: Who else have you played with over the years?
KS: In the Dallas area, I’ve mostly only played with the guys in Cast Iron Soul. I played a little with Kim Gautier, who owns Manny’s in Frisco, and her group we called the Bam Band. Before I moved to Texas I was in a couple of different bands that played around Kansas City, MO and other places in the Midwest. I played with a band called the Razors for several years and we mixed in a lot of original music. Much more of a new wave/alternative band. After that, I formed a band that was more mainstream classic rock called the Lobsterz.
LsF: With all the music in the DFW area, who are some of the local artists you’re listening to now or enjoy seeing live?
KS: There is so much local talent. I’m amazed at how much is really out there. I love the fact that we have a lot of really good bands at our disposal and that you don’t have to go far to see them. I like Moving Colors and their offshoot, Missing Three, Trey Allen, the Maylee Thomas Band and The Rumble Kings are fun. As a Stevie Ray Vaughn fan, I really like Texas Flood. Plus there are several young people breaking out like Kendall Bowser, Grace Tyler and Not Ur Girlfrenz, an all girl band, plus so many others! It’s pretty exciting to see it all developing around us and to go watch live when I have the chance.
LsF: Do you prefer to play originals or covers?
KS: A couple of us have written music in the past with other bands, but right now we focus on playing covers. We try to pick some songs that are popular but you don’t see a lot of other bands doing. So at this point in time, it’s cover tunes.
LsF: Over the years, how have you seen the music scene grow here in Frisco?
KS: Frisco has really grown as a city over the years and the music scene has also picked up with it. I would certainly like to see more places feature live music, but it has grown in the right direction. A few years ago you had to go over to Plano or McKinney and into Dallas to catch live music, especially full bands. Now there are a lot of places you can catch single artists in town doing acoustic sets, but only a few places with full bands.
KS: Well, it’s interesting because as long as Cast Iron Soul has been playing around together, we’ve only recently started putting ourselves out there for gigs and trying to get booked in different places. By far our favorite is the Frisco Rail Yard. They have some really good bands come through there and it is a fun place to play! We so appreciate being part of the bands that rotate in and out of the Rail Yard!
LsF: Where are some of the unique places you have played?
KS: One of the more different places we’ve played is Brinkmann Ranch. Not a lot of people get to go in there so it’s kind of mysterious with a lot of history. We were set up close to the pool and this longhorn steer would come up right behind the band. Very surreal feeling.
LsF: If you could give a piece of advice for anyone breaking into the music scene, what would it be?
KS: Don’t ever give up! Do what you love and keep doing it. Keep that fire burning and be passionate about it. It’s something that is uniquely yours forever.