Plan to smile, nod foiled

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jason Alean’s producer has an interest in this band.

But let me back up.

I met the Shane Runion Band in late October at Buffalo Wild Wings in Portsmouth. They were just a few weeks removed from releasing their first video, “Two Piece.”

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Let me back up again.

In early October, Jon Ferguson, Rick Jansen and I were at the Ro-Na discussing marketing plans for next June’s Great River Raffle. During a lull in conversation, Jon literally forced us to watch a video cut by a local band neither Rick nor I had heard of. I remember thinking, “OK, endure the next few minutes, smile, nod and say, ‘that was good’, and then tell Jon his taste in music sucks.”

And once the video was finished, I did most of that….except for saying “That was good” or “your taste in music sucks,” because, to my surprise, the video and the song were not just good — They were excellent. Jon and I insult each other good-naturedly on a routine basis. Rick, who is originally from Wisconsin, doesn’t understand or appreciate our humor and sometimes worries we are about to come to blows.

But Dad didn’t have to worry about separating the spatting kids on that day. We were all impressed — so much so that Jon and Rick contacted Shane Runion and arranged for his band to play the Ro-Na this Friday night.

Aside from contributing periodically to The Tribune, I also freelance for Portsmouth Metro Magazine, so I contacted Runion for a story.

We met at B-Dubs on Trick-or-Treat night. I arrived early so I could watch for him to arrive. I’d seen the “Two Piece” video several times, so I was certain I’d recognize him. Sure enough, an SUV whipped into the parking lot and, once his feet hit the pavement, I recognized his familiar lop of hair. I waved as I exited my car. We strolled into BDubs and took a seat. When the waiter arrived, I ordered a Bud Light, expecting the aspiring singer to at least order the same. But my music industry stereotype was instantly busted. He ordered coffee and water.

A few minutes later, I noticed everyone in the restaurant knew this guy. I found out later his band’s video release party packed the place on Oct. 3. I also noticed, after about an hour, that our waiter didn’t come around very often. When I brought this up in conversation, Runion laughed. “He sees you writing, so he’s giving us space.”

I put my notebook away, because by now Runion’s wife, Jessie, along with guitarists Scott Artis and Tony Phillips, had sat patiently waiting to order food. Even without notes, however, I remember most of our conversations.

I remember being impressed with the collective mindset of this group, Jessie included. In most marriages, especially those involving couples like the Runions, who are in their late 20s, jealousy and time management create major arguments. But she supports him fully. “She pushes me harder than I push myself,” he said.

Phillips works as a graphic designer/screen printer. Artis is a Portsmouth firefighter and Sunday school teacher. Runion is a history teacher at McKell Middle School in Greenup County. The band’s drummer, Boone Brabson, wasn’t able to make it for the interview, but he makes regular trips from his home in central Ohio to play with the band.

In one hour, plus a few phone calls and texts, I had the opportunity to pick the minds of these artists. I found the humanity in them much more refined than expected. This is a group of talented guys with a hunger to play music for a living.

And they’ll be at the Ro-Na at 7:30 this Friday. Tickets are only $10 and can be bought at the door.

Go to YouTube and type “Shane Runion Band” into the search bar to see the “Two Piece” video, which was filmed in Minford and Lucasville.

Early next year, the band will record again in Nashville with Aldean’s band and production team. When you get noticed by a superstar, the dice tend to continually roll your way.

It pains me to tell Jon Ferguson he did something right, but for Rick Jansen’s sake, I’ll do it.

Good call, Jon.


Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at