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As a pianist, D. R. Commander's approach to the instrument is decidedly non-traditional and borrows as much from Earl Scruggs and Mark Knopfler as it does from keyboard gods like Bruce Hornsby, Elton John, Steve Winwood, Jackson Browne, and Donald Fagen. As a singer/songwriter, he is further inspired by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Gordon Lightfoot, and Waylon Jennings. A seasoned and versatile performer, Commander is equally as comfortable belting out songs in an intimate solo keyboard setting as rocking them out with a 4-piece band. He often performs his songs in different styles based on the mood of a particular performance.
While his musical style is not easily categorized, to Commander, it seems like a perfectly natural product of his many diverse musical experiences. From teaching himself the piano at age 7 by playing along with radio stations in his home town of Beaumont, Texas to playing lead trumpet in the University of Houston Jazz Ensemble, music-- in one form or another-- was always an integral part of his young life. After college, Commander played piano professionally in the Houston jazz, swing, and R&B scene for four years before moving to Austin. He has spent more than a decade in Austin honing his keyboard and songwriting skills with various bands, including jazz fusion quintet The Harmony Theory, R&B/funk powerhouse Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys (whose first album contains two of Commander's songs), veteran jam band Flounders Without Eyes, and, perhaps most notably, Peter Rowan's all-electric band ("Twang an' Groove.") On occasion, Commander has also lent his keys to a variety of other artists, including the legendary Arthur Brown. In addition to his work as a singer/songwriter, Commander also currently plays and sings with Austrian prog rocker Ulrich Ellison and his band ("Tribe.")
Commander's first solo album, entitled "Seven Cities", was self-produced over a period of 3 1/2 years and released in April of 2013.