Artist and Craftsman

Artist and Craftsman Kevin Deal
If you check out and you see what this man creates out of stone and concrete, you can bet that this top craftsmanship also takes part in his songs. Kevin Deal is a man of many talents and, even past 60-years-old, you can still find him working on construction sites. In the evenings, you’ll find him at songwriter joints and Honky Tonks in Texas. At the anniversary of Tommy Alverson’s Family Gathering, I had the opportunity to visit with him and talk about his artwork.

Bruno Michel: Kevin, you’re married for 40 years and have five kids. Your construction company soon also has it’s 40th anniversary. You also are a volunteer fireman and member of the city council of your hometown. After a ten-year break you restarted your music career in the 90’s. How do you manage to balance family, hard physical work, nightly gigs and all the rest and still going strong. Kevin Deal: Right. In 2023, my company, K. Deal Masonry Inc., is 40 years in business. I stopped working on the city council. It’s gotten too stupid. If you think it’s bad in Austin or Washington D.C., try politics in a small Texas town. Oh my god. It can get pretty messy pretty quick. So, I quit after 14 years on the council. But, after 20 years, I am still volunteering at the Fire Department. Plus, as you mentioned, a big family with meanwhile thirteen grandkids. I have no idea how I still get all this done (laughs).

Well, many people between 60 and 70 years of age start thinking about retirement. Some do it, others just keep going until they can’t do it no more. You recently entered this age group. Which category do you fit in? I probably have to keep going for a while. Recently, I checked how much social security I would receive. That made clear that it would be not enough by far. The politicians in DC constantly approve higher salaries for themselves, but the retired people never get raises even close to compensate the price increases.

Your creations out of stone are unbelievably great. Just like your songs. Are there any similarities between creating a stone project and creating a song? Yes. To create solid things, you need a good foundation. That’s equally true on the construction site and at songwriting. When I was young, the foundation to a song came with the melody. Today, I mostly have lyrics first and then construct the melody around it. Since I was never educated in music, I mostly have no idea in which key or pitch I should sing the song or play the melody. Then I go to the studio and Lloyd Maines helps me to model the ideas in my head into a good song.

… like I told Max Stalling a couple days ago: Lloyd Maines is a legend… … exactly. I think that’s his middle name: Lloyd Legendary Maines.

You once said that even during your break from making music in the 80’s, you permanently had new song ideas going through your head. Back then, was already the melody first or the story? In my younger years, I mostly played Rock And Roll music. And, always, I first had the guitar riff in my head that I learned to play. After that I threw words around it (laughs).

During my 15 years in Texas, I always found hardly any competition among my musician friends. It’s more like a big family, where everyone helps everyone else or where they often play together on stage. Even years ago, when Two Tons Of Steel had their trailer stolen with all equipment in it, they didn’t have to cancel one gig. Someone threw in an amp, another one some instruments or microphones. What does it mean to you to be part of this family? Well, generally speaking, you are correct. Sure, there’s competition, but it’s rare. It’s true, I made many good friends. And most of the people were nice with me and I tried to be nice with them. You can’t get along with everyone but you can try.

What are things that people don’t know about Kevin Deal? No idea. I am more like an open book. Maybe, that I watch many movies. Based on my day job, I can tell you in each movie if the stone buildings are real or fake. In the movie Braveheart, for example, everything was fake. And when I played a gig in Ireland, a friend told me that even the story of the movie wasn’t real.

Your recent project, The Long Road Home, came out in 2019. Are there new recordings that fans can soon enjoy? I have a couple new songs ready. I just need to find the time to get to the studio. At the moment, we have almost too many projects in construction, just like during Covid times, when two of my sons lost their job and started to work for me. I never had so many inquiries like then and it keeps going on to this day. Therefore, completing songs is just on the backburner for now and I have to keep writing a few more to make it enough for an album. It’s really time. If it doesn’t happen until June next year, kick my a.. if you see me and remind me of this.

We all get older and everything takes a little longer than it used to… …tell me about it. I should not reveal this but I go to a chiropractic twice a week to relax my back and the rest of my body. He’s asking me how I feel and I tell him: I am a young man imprisoned in an old body (laughs). Hopefully, no one steals that line because I think it will make for a good new song of mine.

If Kevin Deal wouldn’t be a mason or musician, what would he be today? No idea. I started in high school with a class to become a construction worker. I knew I didn’t want to go to college. In my last school year, I worked halftime with a mason as his apprentice. Then I had a job as a mason for a while, then came family, kids, establishing my own company and so on. So, I never even had time to think about doing something else.

Is one of your five kids ready to step in dad’s footprints, be it as a mason or songwriter/musician? My oldest son played bass in my band for a while. At the moment he’s focusing on other things, despite his obvious talent. My second oldest is a hard worker, a good boy. But he doesn’t like jobs that get you dirty. My third son worked in my company during Covid and I am still trying to convince him to come back. Then there’s my daughter, who is a baker, and a good one at that. Maybe I can convince her husband to join my company. My youngest son is serving in the Air Force right now and is much too intelligent to step in daddy’s footprints. Maybe it works with one of my grandkids if I can keep going long enough (laughs).

Last question: If you were to interview Kevin Deal, what question would you ask him that I did not ask? Man, no idea. You basically asked about everything there is to know about me. Oh, maybe: what’s my favorite beverage? I like dark beer. Or: how do I get ideas to my songs? From personal experience, like in the song Truck Stop By The Liquor Store By The Highway. That story played out in front of my eyes and I thought, hey, here comes a country song. Another example is If You Hurt The Ones You Love. I thought that one was funny. My wife not so much (laughter).

Great final point. Thank you so much for the interview.