Tyler Anthony originally of Memphis, TN returns to his hometown with the Knoxville-based band, Cereus Bright. They will open for Judah & the Lion at the Hi-Tone on Friday October 17th – ($13 in advance, fees included, Tickets Available HERE) & again for The Dirty Guv’nahs at Minglewood Hall on Thursday November 13th – ($19 in advance, fees included, Tickets Available HERE).
We asked Tyler a few questions to learn about his music, background, and his Memphis roots:
C901: Tyler, some might see the name Cereus Bright & have no idea what a cereus is. Tell Choose901 – what does the band name mean?
Tyler: The Cereus is a type of cactus flower that only blooms at night. When I first stumbled on it, I was incredibly inspired by the idea – here was this beautiful flower growing in the driest place and blooming in the darkness. For us, it’s a symbol of hope, a symbol of the unexpected happening. The best thing might be just around the corner, even when nothing good feels possible. We think that’s something everyone could use a reminder of.
C901: When someone asks you about Cereus Bright’s style of music & what you sing about, what do you tell them?
Tyler: We call ourself “modern folk”. There’s an honesty and a rawness to folk music that is really important to us, but we also recognize that we aren’t writing songs that are classic folk either. Even as we work on new songs and try out different styles and sounds, we maintain a desire to capture something real and tell its story. Life has so many different kinds of experiences – sadness, happiness, guilt, doubts, etc. We want to tell stories about them all. If someone can walk away from our music having been moved in some way or maybe feeling like they aren’t alone in what they experience – then we’re happy.
C901: You grew up in Memphis, tell us what part of town you grew up in, where you went to school, what did life look like for a young Tyler Anthony growing up in the Bluff City?
Tyler: I did grow up here! I spent most of my childhood living right off Ridgeway, and conveniently, I attended MUS for middle school and high school. Life for young Tyler looked a lot more like a “typical MUS kid” than an aspiring musician. I suppose most of my days were spent in hand me down khaki pants, awkwardly navigating adolescence, and not being very good at sports.
When you’re in high school, the world is only as big as the walls of your school. I didn’t quite fit the MUS mold, but I wasn’t really sure WHO I was or what I really wanted to do.
Honestly, it wasn’t even until after college that I was finally able to be honest with myself about wanting to try music.
C901: So you went to MUS & now you have this amazing, folksy beard. Has that ever caught someone by surprise when you’ve told them you went to MUS?
Tyler: Yes, in fact, I’m sure I scare most people from my past (at first). I remember when I first grew my beard out, I went to church and tried to hug an old lady that I knew. I think I traumatized her. It is fun to run into people from my “MUS days.” I’ve been thankful to reconnect a little with some old buddies and have felt some great support from old classmates.
C901: Since you’ve (sadly) left Memphis and lived in Knoxville, what has caught your eye about so many young people moving to Memphis?
Tyler: I think it’s wonderful! It’s been so inspiring to see so many friends and peers investing in Memphis. Like every city, Memphis has its pros and cons. I’ve loved getting to see so many people my age make the choice to believe in Memphis, move back, and plant roots. It’s that kind of attitude that will make our city and its people flourish. Go Memphis!
C901: When you come to visit your family, what are the places (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.) you frequent in Memphis?
Tyler: Sadly, I was not a very cultured youth, but it’s been fun to return to Memphis with a (little) more grown up palette. I’ve always been a sucker for a night at Huey’s or late night donuts at Gibson’s. Otherlands Coffee Bar has recently become a favorite coffee spot! We got to play a show there last time we were in Memphis. Great vibe, great people.
C901: Have you been to shows at the Levitt Shell and if so what do you think of that venue and how it has become such a great thing for Memphis music?
Tyler: When I was around, the Levitt Shell wasn’t necessarily doing much for Memphis music, but it’s no doubt, even from a distance, to see how much it’s helping. There have been countless shows I’ve seen posted or heard about that I would have LOVED to attend. It was awesome to see Drew Holcomb launch the Moon River Festival there this summer. It’s definitely on our Memphis “to play” list! (hint hint)
C901: How did growing up in Memphis influence your music, whether it be style or the story you tell?
Tyler: That’s a great question. I wish I could say that Memphis’ deep musical roots launched me into my own music, but I was actually pretty unexposed most of my childhood and youth. Most of what I listened to was pop and Nashville singer-songwriters. HOWEVER, it may have worked to my advantage in that when I finally found my way to the sounds and styles of places like Memphis – it was so fresh! I didn’t know much about folk or roots music, but I think I discovered it all at the perfect time.
C901: What does the next year look like for Cereus Bright?
Tyler: Well, we’ve had a crazy year so far. We went from being a primarily Knoxville band to getting to travel and open for some amazing national acts. We are so excited to get to go back on the road with The Dirty Guv’nahs this fall and winter. We absolutely love those guys. We are working on new songs in the spaces of touring and plan on recording our first full length album next year. Can’t wait!HERE.