Music is everywhere, it is an integral part of everyday life. Think about it. Music is part of the important events in life such as graduations, birthday parties, weddings and funerals. Music is used to create drama or excitement in the movies we watch. Most importantly music can take you to a place where your troubles disappear for a short while. My friend Donna is married to a guitar player, and the other night she invited us (my husband and I) out to hear him play. It was amazing. Everyone should have the opportunity to hear the magic Joe Settelmires creates on his guitar.
Joe is a quiet man. He doesn’t usually have a lot to say, that is until he picks up his guitar. When he plays, he speaks volumes through the strings of his guitar. The genre of music being played that night was mostly blues. During one of the breaks Joe sat down and said to us “Man I haven’t played this type of music in a long time”. Well, you could have fooled me because he plays so effortlessly. He and his guitar are one when he plays.
Joe Settlemires is quite well known in the music industry. He became a professional guitar player at the age of 14. Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys is a name that should be familiar to almost everyone. Playing with this legendary band was coveted by many. Well, at the young age of 19 Joe was offered that opportunity making him the youngest Texas Playboy.
Joe has also played with Country Music stars such as Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Red Foley, Tex Ritter and Harold Bradley. However, Country Music is not his only area of expertise. In the Jazz genre he has played backup for Bob Hope, Howard Roberts and Pat Martino. There is more, Joe also performed with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. Talk about a wide range of talent.
Joe is more than a musician-he is musical. He has written arrangements for thousands of songs. He has shared his knowledge and expertise with hundreds of students through private lessons. Many of Joe’s students have achieved success which they may not have been able to do without the teachings of Settlemires. Some of his students have gone on to play with the likes of Merle Haggard, George Strait, Neil Diamond, Restless Heart and The Judds.
In 2001 Settlemires founded the USAO Showband at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Joe takes his USAO students on the road and into the studio in order to provide them with a taste of the reality of being a performer. For more than ten years the USAO Showband has traveled to Turkey Texas to perform at the annual Bob Wills Festival. They have been so impressive that USAO has become the destination for students wishing to promote the legacy of Western Swing music.
Joe is also a recording artist. His recordings include Jazz albums, (Canadian Sunset and Sugarfoot Rag). Sugarfoot rag (the title song of the album) was a collaboration with Harold Bradley and Vince Gill. It was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2008 for “Best Jazz Instrumental Album by an Individual or Group” and “Best Country Instrumental Performance”. His most recent recordings are two Western Swing albums, “Remember Me” (instrumental) and “Northfield Swing” featuring Hank Adam Locklin and Kristin Killion’
Four Halls of Fame have recognized Joe’s contribution to American music. In addition, the Oklahoma State Legislature recognized him for his contributions to music not only as a musician but as a teacher/mentor.
Joe Settlemires is an unassuming man. He doesn’t talk about himself. According to his wife, Donna, he will go out of his way to help an upcoming musician. He has played many big venues, but you might find him playing at a little local club just to help someone out. We should all have dreams and aspirations. Settlemires nurtures those dreams and aspirations for his students. I did not ask Joe if he had any advice to give to musicians, but I did not need to. Joe was talking about a time when he played with Roy Clark and he realized he was making next to nothing while Clark was knocking down some big money. He looked at us, smiled, and said “I realized if you think big money, you will make big money. And I did”. Enough said.