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Life & Work with Rudy Villarreal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rudy Villarreal. Them and their team share their story with us below:

The idea of Fun Gus & The Shrooms came together in the Summer of 2019. Rudy Villarreal (vocals, guitar, bass) and Jason Salinas (guitars) ran in the same circles back in high school in Corpus Christi, TX and reconnected in Austin, literally decades later. We met up over pizza and beers at Pint House Pizza in Austin and talked about possibly getting together to perform a few songs at a local open mic sometime. After a few months of open mics and living room rehearsals, we played our first gig as an acoustic guitar duo at the Three Legged Goat in Pflugerville, TX in November of 2019.

After a few gigs, We met up with Gary Faires (vocals, guitar, bass), who was also from Corpus Christi and we pondered the idea of expanding into an acoustic guitar trio. After a few more open mics and living room rehearsals, we had evolved into an acoustic trio, which continued for more than a year. As a trio, we started playing gigs throughout the Central Texas area and played in our hometown of Corpus Christi occasionally as well. As our setlist started to expand, we started adding more percussion/bass to the trio.

After a year and a half of performing as a trio, we started to entertain the idea of adding a drummer and becoming a full four piece variety cover band. Mike Quinones, who is also from Corpus Christi, started playing percussion/drums with the Shrooms once in a while. Eventually, it just made sense and Mike became a permanent member.

We also have an additional (occasional) member in the band, Albert Martinez (harmonica/vocals) and yes you guessed it, he is also from Corpus Christi, same age, and graduated high school same year as well. Albert currently lives in Chicago, IL so doesn’t get to gig with the band often, but we welcome him onstage whenever he’s in town. We like to call him an honorary Shroom.

We love telling our story to anyone who will listen because it is so unique in that we are all from Corpus Christi, we are all the same age, and we all graduated from high school in the same year, 1987. Granted, we didn’t all know each other back then, but we all ended up here in beautiful Central Texas.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road so far has been pretty smooth. We are fortunate not to have run into any major challenges as a band. If we had to pick one, it would probably be our booking strategy. We do all of our own booking. We have never used a booking manager and don’t intend to anytime soon. This may not be ideal for some bands, but it really works for us. We like to establish a personal relationship with the venues and the people we play for and fear we may lose that personal touch with a booking manager. Who knows, maybe that will change in the future, but we’re happy with the way things have turned out. We’ve met some amazing people and have had the opportunity to play at a lot of awesome venues, and we did it all on our own.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Fun Gus & The Shrooms is an Austin area based four piece variety cover band that performs a diverse mix of genres from 70’s classic rock to modern alternative rock. All members are originally from Corpus Christi, TX, born in the same year, and graduated high school in Corpus Christi in the same year. The Shrooms now sprout in Central Texas! Our live performances are uniquely fun, energetic and always get the crowd singing along!

Gary Faires – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Rudy Villarreal – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Jason Salinas – Guitar(s)
Mike Quinones – Drums/Percussion

One of the things that sets us apart as a band is our musical diversity. Yes, we are a variety cover band, but the music we cover always tends to bring out the Fun whenever we perform (no pun intended). We have an extensive set list of cover music that includes classic rock, modern and classic alternative rock, and even some country music from the 70’s through the 2000’s. Almost every time we play, someone will comment on our variety of music and say how they loved our set.

Another Fun part of the band is our name, Fun Gus & The Shrooms. People often ask us, which one of you is Gus? In reality, we are all Gus. Gary Faires (vocals, guitar, bass) summed it up nicely by saying, “The band name is a metaphor for something great happening that you couldn’t have predicted. In a smaller way, it’s like going out for a drink and hearing a song you love that raises your spirit in a way you weren’t expecting. There’s a little Fun Gus in Everyone!”

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
If we could offer any advice, it would be to stay focused and organized. As musicians, each of the Shrooms have been playing individually for decades. Keeping a working band going consistently can be challenging, but the rewards and gratification make up for all the hard work that goes into it. Staying organized and maintaining communication and camaraderie with your bandmates (or Shroomates, as we call each other) is key.

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