Mark Brainard & Drew Shafor | King Whistle

If you happen on a show with either of these two talented guys, stick around, you won’t be disappointed.



Two very different songwriters Mark Brainard and Drew Sheafor, answered a few questions for me at Venice Cafe. Mark has kind of a Glenn Tilbrook/Elvis Costello sound and approach to his writing, while Drew is more 60’s garage-influenced Americana pop. I’ve seen both perform several times and they always have great energy and a nice sound.

Can you tell me what you think of the Saint Louis music scene? Tell me how you participate including your music, and in other ways?

MB: The St. Louis music scene is approachable, welcoming, and warm. The scene has depth, grit, and is best accompanied with a stag and a shot of whiskey. I frequent local venues to perform, or watch others perform. I am actively looking for local musicians to play with.

DS: It’s a bunch of friends running around playing music for each other; it’s like music therapy. If you can get moved by some of your friends every now and then, that’s a pretty big deal to me. I show up because I love it. I go out and talk to people. I shake hands. Sometimes I dance. I make music videos and ask Daniel Krauss to dance in them. I film bands if I like them and put them on Youtube and Sheafor Productions so they can see how they sound. Sometimes when I edit those videos, I think, “Man, my friends really know how to write a melody,” and I’ll have their song stuck in my head for days. I participate in the STL Here and Nowhost for Art Bar’s Open Mic Night.

What instruments do you play? What is the first song you ever learned?

MB: I play guitar, vocals, and a bit of piano. The first song I ever learned is Elvis Presley, “That’s Alright Mama.”

DS: I play guitar, harmonica, and foot tambourine, and do this whistle technique called “king whistle.” Mainly I play acoustic guitar. First song I ever learned was “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles. I’m glad you asked me this one, because I must mention my good friend, Larrey Gayle, who taught me how to play that song in his family’s kitchen. Also, I must mention my friend Larrey literally made me go to a guitar shop in Effingham, IL to go get a guitar. He played a load of cheap guitars and showed me the one that sounded and played the best and I bought it. Larrey passed away last year, and I love him, and I had to mention that.

Who are your biggest both musical and non-musical influences for song writing and playing?

MB: My influences are kind of ever changing. If you asked me this in the 90s, the answer would be Nirvana and Sublime. If you asked me in my early 20s, the answer would be Bob Dylan and the Beatles. Lately, I don’t spend too much time walking through other people’s museums, so to speak. Trying to be my own influence, or grab influence locally. Non-musical influences include The Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, and whichever book I’m reading at the time.

DS: Anyone that knows me could peg me in a heartbeat. I like a lot of those English guys from the 1960s. McCartney, Lennon, Ray Davies, Davie Davies, Donovan—and this guy is not English, but definitely Bob Dylan—his voice and guitar playing and his song writing. Non-musical influences? I’d say situations and feelings get me going, usually situations or feelings that seem to be tragic at the time. I get my strength back from time, and a little finger picking on the guitar. Also, I get inspiration from all the muses. The ones who can’t play music and who say they can’t sing and all this and that, even though they could if they wanted to. They’re always the ones who inspire me the most—they’re usually a bit psychic too, and the kindest. And I really do like playing acoustic guitar outside in the sun.

How does music affect you and how you see the world?

MB: Music is the love of my life. It doesn’t pay my bills, it’s never gotten me laid, and music is a terrible cook—but she is an incredible conversationalist, has introduced me to a lot of great people, been my greatest teacher, and has kept me sane. It’s real love, and no matter what, it’s going to last.

DS: In a way, music has become my identity. I’ve got a song for every occasion in the world. If I don’t have one, I’ll make one up.

What is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you playing live?

MB: While we were playing, a bird flew into the bar, one of great majesty. It appeared to be nodding its head to the songs, nearly syncopated with the beat. It soared across the room during moments of high intensity. It sang in approval. I’m happy to say that bird and I have been dating for 3 years now.

DS: Ahhhh, this is a good one. Either starting to cry big, heavy, streaming tears about life when Old Capital was playing “Water Tower” at the Cinco de Mayo festival on Cherokee Street stage… or maybe it was the time that lead guy from Runaway Barge told me to come outside in front of my friends and family after his set at CreeFest because I jumped on stage with his band and played the harmonica part on “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright.” I thought stuff was maybe gonna “go down.” I went outside though.

What music do you have available, and where can I get it?

MB: I have an EP available, with the band Aristocrat Laundromat. You can find it on iTunes,, and pretty much anywhere on the Internet.

DS: Old Capital’s stuff is on iTunes, Spotify, and all over YouTube. I put some time into some Old Cap music videos. Also, Old Capital’s second album will be out soon. The Barn Mice have a cassette release at Off Broadway on May 23, 2015, so you can get our debut album then! The Heart Breakin’ Lightwalkers will have our first single out, “A Searcher Song” on the upcoming STL Here and Now album.

What are your current or upcoming shows or projects? 

MB: I am currently looking for serious musicians to perform out with. Contact me if interested. Also, I am always recording and writing at home. I will be posting songs on my Facebook page soon.

DS: May 7 at The Bootleg with Old Capital Square Dance Club, May 23 Barn Mice album release show, and Whiskeyfest fundraiser at Off Broadway.

Do you believe in the piasa bird and do you think he’s coming back?

MB: My belief in the Piasa Bird has never wavered. I don’t believe he ever left. He exists eternally in the hearts of the sacred. I pray to him nightly.

DS: Of course I believe in the Piasa Bird. That was a Native American legend, and I believe a Native American’s legends more than I do almost anybody’s. Also, you know that there have been all those sightings of Thunderbirds around IL back in the day. Seriously, look it up. One time one of those birds were mistaken for an airplane, and another lifted a boy like two feet off the ground. I think they were around Alton, IL. The Piasa bird may not come back anytime soon, but if he did, Nelly Furtado or Steve Miller might write a song about it.

So if you happen on a show with either of these two talented guys, stick around, you won’t be disappointed. | DL Hegel

Links for Mark:

Links for Drew:

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