The Gift of Music


Shane Runion Band Hoping to Turn Talents into Stardom

Shane_Runion small thumbnail picOn October 30, I met the members of the locally popular Shane Runion Band at Buffalo Wild Wings® in Portsmouth, Ohio. A few days prior, my buddy Jon Ferguson raved about the band’s first video, “Two Piece,” and literally forced me to watch. I was so impressed I contacted the band’s lead singer and namesake, Shane Runion, and made arrangements to meet for a story in this magazine.

The 6’3” Runion arrived at “BDubs” looking the part of a musician. His unique hairdo, which I immediately recognized from his band’s video, wasn’t the only thing unusual about this guy. Sometimes, our minds take in, gather and process information at a rate beyond our understanding. Then we get what is known as a gut feeling. My gut feeling within five minutes of our initial handshake was “this guy has a gift.” Actually, he has multiple gifts, one of which is an undying passion for music. “We’re looking to make hits for a living,” he said without a hint of doubt. “We intend to achieve our dreams.”  Add confidence to the list of gifts under Runion’s blessing tree. And don’t mistake his confidence for conceit. “I feel like every song is a gift,” he said. “We feel like there’s a guiding hand helping us along. The stars are aligning right.”

Another gift is his beautiful wife Jessie, who joined our table about 10 minutes into the conversation. “I’m lucky,” he said when asked about maintaining the relationship/music balance. “She pushes me harder than I push myself.” Runion then mentioned a song he wrote about his early relationship with Jessie titled, “Love You That Much.” “Of the songs I’ve written, that was my favorite,” he said. And my gut feeling was “he’s not just saying that because she’s sitting here.” He meant it.

We talked about his life outside of music. The 27 year old is a 2005 graduate of Minford High School and has taught history for the past five years at McKell Middle School in Greenup County, Ky. He counts being blessed to work with kids as yet another gift, but admits the harried pace of life can be overwhelming. “I haven’t been sleeping much lately,” he laughed as our waiter delivered his coffee. Add unlimited adrenaline to his gift list.

Then some more gifts arrived at the table, guitarists Scott Artis and Tony Phillips. Each immediately conveyed the same passion, humility, confidence and desire as their lead singer. Artis, a Portsmouth firefighter, explained the band’s love of music this way: “It’s always there. You just have to get it out. If you don’t play, you’re miserable.” And get it out they have. On October 3, the band posted the “Two Piece” video on YouTube and Facebook. The response was overwhelming. Nearly a month later, the video averages more than 1,000 views per day. “When you have 40,000 views on YouTube, it’s hard to believe this is real,” Runion said.

Artis read a text on his phone. “They’re playing ‘Two Piece’ on (99.3 FM) WNXT right now,” he tells the group.

Runion chimes in, “This is surreal. Even more surreal is to be stopped at a red light and hear your song playing in the car next to you.”  Add in the fact Runion wrote the song, and surreal, to him, surely means Disney World® magical. Add another gift.

The Shane Runion Band, which also consists of acoustic guitarist Boone Brabson (from Waverly) and newly added drummer Zach Barney (Portsmouth), isn’t your garden variety bar band. These guys truly believe they have the talent to make national waves. And, as Runion noted, “We stress quality over quantity. We don’t play just to be in front of a crowd. We want to produce the best music possible.”

Barney wanders into BDubs toward the conclusion of the interview. Once the 24-year-old drummer takes his seat, he’s asked how he joined the band. “A guy walks into a bar,” he said, laughing. And that’s really how it happened. He ran into Artis, whom he’s known his entire life, at BDubs and fate took care of the rest.

I spent an hour with these people. In that short period of time, I recognized the hunger each of the individuals in this band have for success. Phillips, who works as a graphic designer/screen printer at Larry Moore Trophy & Sports, praised his employer. But his dreams are tied to the music he and his bandmates produce. “We all love our jobs,” he said, “but once we clock out, it’s all about the band.”

Add dreams to the gift list. Shane Runion has dreamed of singing his songs in public since he was a child. He walked me out of BDubs and played “Love You That Much,” the song he wrote for Jessie, on his phone outside the entrance. I told him I would record this moment for posterity so I could someday say, “I heard that song on his phone long before it hit the radio.”

The band recently performed at the Alpine Theater in Ripley, W.Va., and a  little closer to home at the Ro-Na Theater in Ironton, Ohio. Visit the band’s Facebook page – Shane Runion Band – for information about other upcoming dates.

While you’re waiting for the show dates to arrive, type “Shane Runion Band” into YouTube and get yourself hooked on “Two Piece.” My gut says it’s going to be a hit.


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Billy Bruce

Billy Bruce, M.Ed., LICDC-CS, is a community justice specialist at STAR Community Justice Center in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He has been a local freelance writer for seven years, contributing to The Herald-Dispatch, The Ironton Tribune, and the fantasy baseball Web site He lives in Lawrence County, Ohio, and has three teenage children. He can be contacted via email at or located on Twitter @Billy_Bruce.

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