Behind the Scenes 2

With Singer/Songwriter Michael Bendure

Q. When did you first know you wanted to perform?

A. I think, in a weird way, I’ve never really viewed myself as a performer. I grew up singing in choir and playing hand bells in church, and playing trumpet in band and orchestra, so I was comfortable playing music in front of others. Those were, to me, less about performing and more about being a musical conduit. As a songwriter now, I feel like I have a responsibility to let the music come out through me, so making music feels less like performing and more like fulfilling my responsibilities as a musician.

I picked up a guitar at age 13 and started playing, writing, and singing right away. A couple years later, I met a guy named Seth McDonald, who became a close musical buddy right away. Over the years, we’ve written dozens of songs together and played in a few bands. I transitioned back into a solo writer and musician about 12 years ago, but nowadays I far prefer to make music with friends. Today, I write and play with two of my best musical friends, David Henson and Chris Walsh, as the band Heartbreak Rodeo. My wife, Jenny, is in a band called the Whiskey Gingers, and it’s always a blast playing shows with them as well. It’s way more fun to make music with friends.

Q. What type of music does Heartbreak Rodeo play, and where?

A. We are an acoustic rock trio that plays about a 60/40 split of classic rock tunes and original songs. We play nearly monthly at El Toro Chino Restaurant in Norman, Royal Bavaria Restaurant in Moore and the Will Rogers World Airport in OKC.

Q. Have you been recorded?

A. We just wrapped up a new, full-length album, recorded and produced by Oklahoma guitar legend Terry “Buffalo” Ware (John Fullbright, Ray Wylie Hubbard, The Cowboy Twinkies). The album is called “End of Summer,” and it features some incredible guitar work by Mr. Ware and Gregg Standridge, plus piano by Chris Tubbs (Glow Bead), and several other tracks by great friends. We hope to release it by mid-summer… Readers can stay updated via our website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages by following @heartbreakrodeo or visiting heartbreakrodeo.com.

Q. Community service or memberships in organizations?

A. Norman blues man Richard “Daddy” Love and I formed the SongWriters Association of Norman (SWAN) nine years ago (normansongwriters.org). Today, membership includes more than 60 writers and musicians of all ages, genres, abilities and experiences. Some of our past members include Annie Oakley, Ken Pomeroy and Abbigale Dawn, and even John Calvin Abney attended a few meetings several years back. At this year’s Norman Music Festival, we filled 30 slots with SWAN members on two stages over the course of three days. We are so proud of this group of local musicians and have made some incredible friendships from this ragtag bunch.

I’ve been looking through / Shades of purple red / Trying to get a better view / Of the spiral in my head / You said you had my back / But my back’s against the wall