Last night, another couple got engaged at singer-songwriter Tyrone Wells' show. He stopped midway through his set to tell a woman that her boyfriend had something to ask her. When the "yes" came, the crowd cheered emphatically. Some people teared up.
"A couple years ago, engagements happened almost every show," says Wells while rolling through Texas on tour last weekend. "Things like that, I can't believe I get to be a part of that."
There's a reason that so many of the 42-year-old's tunes have ended up on the soundtracks of soapy shows like Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill and The Vampire Diaries, along with actual soap opera As the World Turns, and dozens of others. This often guitar-heavy, happy-go-lucky music easily speaks to people who are in love, or are trying to find love. Wells himself has been married for more than a decade and has two young daughters, who make it increasingly tough to leave his L.A.-area home for yet another tour.
Some of the Spokane-raised musician's most popular tracks on Spotify have titles like "Happy As the Sun," "And the Birds Sing" and "Time of Our Lives," and none of them are phony. Just like his soulful, unaffected vocals, he writes about the things that are authentic to his experience. And he's always pushing, currently working on a children's book called The Whatamagump and recently releasing his first EP of cover songs, with a second one not far behind. But that doesn't mean he's entirely content.
Back in 2006, Wells, who formerly played in a Christian band, took his solo act full time, signing with Universal Records. After two full-length records with the major label that never produced a breakout hit, he moved back to the indie side of the business.
"It's a blessing and a curse having hit songs, but I don't have any bona fide hit songs," Wells says. "I have some musician friends who, after you have a hit song, the rest of their material gets overlooked. Which is hard for any songwriter."
He's always set goals for himself, and a part of him would like more success at this point. But he admits that most of the world's top musicians have royally screwed-up personal lives.
"Being OK with where you are at, for me it's always a struggle," Wells says, and you can sense this in his music. "I try to recognize and be grateful for each moment. I have people who come to shows and really want to tell me about how songs have changed their lives."
His current tour, which stops at the Bartlett this Friday, is all about these devoted fans. Along with a few of the newly recorded cover songs, Wells has carefully crafted a set full of tunes from nearly all of his previous solo records.
"I'm not playing in stadiums, I'm playing small rooms, and people take time out of their lives and come to experience something I created in my living room or bedroom," Wells says. "I don't take that for granted. It's humbling." ♦
Tyrone Wells "Cover to Cover," with Tony Lucca • Fri, Nov. 11, at 8 pm • Sold out • All-ages • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague • thebartlettspokane.com • 747-2174