Erin Detherage aka “Dr. Shred”

The last place I expected to spend Samhain/Halloween night was at Tequila Grill in Elkins, AR. I didn’t know this restaurant was ever utilized as a music venue at all. As always, I love seeking out new and interesting scenes, but this artist caught my eye immediately due to the nickname “Dr. Shred.” Deep down, I had to know if they actually lived up to their name. I was not disappointed listening to interpretations of different Halloween inspired cover songs featuring shredding guitar. The set list varied from artists such as Michael Jackson, Queen, Johnny Cash, & even Lizzo. Usually the shows I have seen before involve singing during the performance, so it was refreshing to hear the instrumental parts of songs being showcased without any vocal accompaniment at all. Erin’s solo show was unique in the fact that she played the lead guitar part over each recorded song as if playing in an invisible cover band. I had a lovely time singing along with the song while it was being played. It was an experience that was truly one of a kind.

If you haven’t seen Erin Detherage do a solo show, it’s quite good and even worth making the drive for. Interviewing Erin was a pleasure and she is a warm, down to earth person to talk to. Get ready for a brain drain of engaging responses.

1.) How did you get the nickname "Dr. Shred?"
"So [I met] one of my very good friends playing in an 80s cover band. We both ended up leaving that band and ever since then we've played together. We've been playing together almost 10 years now and he's the drummer. His name is Scott Varady. We did a little spandex thing [back then] and it was cool [,but] then he just off the cuff gave me that nickname. I was like, 'Oh that's funny', ya know? It kinda stuck 'cause people don't remember my name. I knew that it stuck [for sure] when I worked at [the] J.B. Hunt Corporate offices and [while] I was walking down the hall the [Penguin Ed's cater] guy setting up comes up [to me] and was like, 'Dr. Shred!' I [responded], 'What?' and he said, 'I saw you play last weekend.' [After that] I was like 'Okay, I'm going to use that.'"

2.) How long have you been playing? How did you get your start?
"I say about 15 years. So, I grew up in a very small town in Oklahoma.  My senior year of high school I had a teacher who decided that for a humanities class he was going to teach guitar. It was cool. We learned some really basic stuff and I just kinda took off with it there. So, I did 2 years of college back in Oklahoma and I was like, 'I gotta get out of here.' Then I moved here [to Fayetteville] and did the University of Arkansas thing and that sucked. I didn't like it. [After] the college thing, [I] had a couple of jobs and then what really was kind of a turning point was I heard an ad on the radio for a Guitar Center opening here. I went and interviewed. I didn't know shit about it, but I ended up getting the job because they needed a door greeter. Being around those people like that was the most sense of belonging that I had with anybody. They're all cool, they're musicians and they just don't give a shit. From there, a gal came in and they were looking for a rhythm guitarist for their band. [My store manager at the time] said, 'I think you should do it.' I said, 'What? Oh my god. I don't know.' So he kind of pushed me into that. [After that] I went and tried out with them and that was [my] first start."

3.) Tell me about the other bands or projects you are involved in.
"I am currently doing a project now. It's a COVID project. I've got about 3 projects right now. I do my solo thing and basically it's a lot easier with one person. [Lately] it's kinda been me finding what clicks. Finally, I kinda got a good thing going where I can get booked regularly.

For the last 4 years I have been playing with a modern country band called Mary Heather Hickman & the Sinners. I met her here. She moved to Nashville, TN. She's been recording [and] trying to get label stuff. [Being] with that band, I [have] had so many cool opportunities. We played at [Dallas] Cowboys Stadium the last 3 years and we've opened for some really cool people. It's been cool. She kind of does her own thing writing and so it's great. She'll bring us back recordings and Nashville studio artists and then we'll play it. We're her live band for now.

The COVID project involves the band I met during COVID. I [discovered them] perusing through Facebook one night and they were like 'We're looking for a guitar player.' I was like, 'Ah, what the hell?' Ya know? They had already named themselves as Polaroid Panda. We've been getting together for about once a week and then we found a bass player. What I love so much about [it] is that this is the only project where everybody has an input on the writing. I'm really excited about that. We're actually going into a recording studio in 2 weeks. We're going to try and record 3 songs. We finally got our first live show at Six Twelve Coffee House & Bar in Fayetteville, AR on December 22."

4.) Has being apart of the LBGTQIA+ community affected your career in music?
"You know what? Actually, I don't think it has. I have been really fortunate because the people that I have played with have been very open minded and super accepting; especially this country band that I play in. Let's just face it. Country people are going to be super conservative, but our singer is on the trajectory to do something potentially big in Nashville, TN. She's just like, 'Whatever. I like how you play, we have good chemistry.' What's funny is we'll play places and it'll be packed [with] like sorority girl moms or super conservative people.  It's people that I'd never talk to, but [since] they're listening to music and having a good time; we all just kind of connect. It's so comforting in that, especially now with politics and all different kinds of things in the mix. Now saying that, I'm sure along the lines you have to fit a certain mold, but I have actually experienced more acceptance. I think that's why I enjoy it and kind of crave playing so much because I feel like I am on the same platform as everybody."

5.) How would you define your style of music?
"I try to conform to different things, but I would say my favorite to play would be blues, country and rock. You can't go wrong with that."

6.) What is the biggest challenge for you as being a LBGTQIA+ performer?
"So it's funny because being LBGTQIA+ and then being amongst [not LGBTQIA+ people] is like a weird purgatory. It's like I'm not super popular. This past year Pride was virtual and they took video submissions. So I did little snippets of LBGTQIA+ friendly artists. I did a piece of a Cher song, a piece of a Lady Gaga song, and ya know? They shared that on there and that was cool. [It] was probably the most in the community I've ever been able to do. So it's like there's that. On the flipside, I work in a music store which is predominantly male driven. On that sense of it, trying to establish a dominance [and a persona] there [being female] is why I feel like I am not huge in the community, but I would like to be."
Video Link in Instagram:
10/31/20 @ Tequila Grill- Erin Detherage

Erin Detherage can be contacted via Facebook, Instagram & YouTube. If you need a proper “brain drain” or just want to hear someone melt your face off with guitar, go see one of their shows.

Keep supporting artists & don’t stop looking for art and culture to fill your mind. Peace.

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