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The best kept secret in music


"Tulsa World"

Jim Halsey can hear musical talent. He snatches artists up before anyone catches on and then guides them to the land of milk and honey.
In his half-century career, the music impresario has represented the likes of country music icons Roy Clark, the Oak Ridge Boys, Waylon Jennings, The Judds, Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakam, James Brown, Roy Orbison, Rick Nelson and Leon Russell.
Now he, along with Thea Nash, is helping the Tulsa rock band Driven, which has a sound reminiscent of the Nixons, to garner a record deal.
Driven formed about a year ago when guitarist Brandon Autry recruited bassist Colt Nipps and lead singer Matt Montgomery. The band also includes drummer Gary Campbell.
Autry said the band benefits from its members’ diverse backgrounds. Campbell studied to be a jazz drummer. Nipps didn’t listen to anything but country and western music up until about five years ago.
Halsey is currently shopping around its three-song demo, recorded at Yellow Dog Studios, to various record companies.
Driven will hold off recording a full album until a record label offers them a contract, Autry said.

- Matt Gleason

"Oklahoma Music Magazine"

Curly’s is full of kids tonight. Most of them, predominately of the squealing girl variety, are there to see the warm-up act. The band sounds a lot like most of the other hardcore outfits currently making the rounds in and about Tulsa. They display little more than basic skills at the instruments and not much vocal range beyond the ability to scream on key. The lead singer is an incredibly short but cute guy with a huge mop of tousled hair that he has learned to work much better than his voice. The girls go wild each time he shakes it- he’s obviously practiced a lot in the mirror. Then it’s over. The band leaves the stage, and at 11 p.m., it is time for Driven.

A lot of girls don’t bother to stick around. Many of them follow the previous band outside. A few stay while the members of Driven begin setting up. As it is time to begin, the few adults who are there begin to sit up and pay attention. Kiddie time is over.

Now it’s time for the real band.

Lead vocalist Matt Montgomery, 20, takes the stage. Looking back at the guys he gives a nod, leans backward with the mic, and begins to sing. And the guy can sing. With pipes reminiscent of a young Eddie Vedder, Montgomery gives voice to the frustrations of growing up- the responsibilities, the hectic schedules, the obligations to friends, family, employer, creditors—as the band launches into “Scream.”

“It’s about being at the point in your life when everything goes in completely different directions, and you get pulled one way, and you get pulled another, and there’s too much happening at once, and it’s all overwhelming,” Montgomery would later relate after wrapping up the impressive set.

It’s a simultaneously aggressive and moving song that puts on display a raw emotion that promises to be honed and finessed as Montgomery’s writing abilities grow and mature. Driven, much like the foursome that constitutes it, is a newbie.

We were both in [different] bands,” says guitarist Brandon Autry, 21, regarding his relationship with drummer Gary Campbell, 22. “Matt and [bassist] Colt [Nipps, 20] were in a band. They were called Driven. “My band ended up breaking up. So I called these guys and said, “Hey ya wanna be in a band?” and they were like ‘yeah.’ And the new Driven was formed.

It was the band’s drive as well as the music that got the attention of veteran manager Jim Halsey. Halsey, whose long career has enabled him to represent James Brown, Roy Orbison, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Judds, Reba McEntire, Clint Black and many others, was impressed with the determination of the young band to succeed.

“A lot of bands can make it,” says Halsey, whose career spans over 50 years in the music industry, “if they have the focus and the drive and the ability to stick at what they do. It’s more than ability, but the willingness to stay with it and be willing to work for it and not give up, and I think these guys have that.” “[Driven] is a way to say determination, perseverance and dedication, all summed up into one word,” says Campbell. Montgomery adds, “Bring that all together and you are driven to do what you want to do. Driven to
follow your dreams.”
Campbell attended Claremore High School, but was never passionate about anything except music and The Simpson’s, taking that passion for music with him into adulthood and a short stint as a student at the University of Central Oklahoma. “My parents always told me to have something to fall back on,” he says, “but for me, music is it. Music and sleep. I try to get as much sleep as I can.” Campbell’s parents have always been supportive and their support has meant even more with the recent passing of his mother. Pulling up a pant leg, he shows a tattoo, a large cross that covers half of his shin. In the center of the cross is a circle. In the circle is another cross. “I had this put on after my mother passed away. I saw this tattoo in a dream a few days before she went to the hospital, and drew it the next day. Then I went out and had it done as a memorial to her.”

While music has always been Campbell’s dream, Nipps is a little Johnny come lately to playing in a band. “I’m a little different from these guys,” the dark blonde Coweta native explains. “Where they have wanted to be in music for a long time, I’ve only been at it for three years.”

Montgomery, at 6-foot-2 or so, is long, lanky and with his blazing blue eyes, looks the part of a cowboy. An accomplished equestrian, Montgomery used to show horses in competitions, but for most of his life, his passion was sports, particularly competitive baseball, until one day he just got tired of it. “I’d sing in the car to Creed and all those other bands that everyone else sings to. I was in the choir, but I never took it seriously ‘til a couple of years ago,” he says.

Autry was raised in a musical family. A not-so-distant relative of Gene Autry (of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” fame, among others), he has been singing since sixth grade choir in Broken Arrow. His parent, always supportive, became substantially so when they began providing capital for the band.

With their help, the band got the attention of Halsey, who immediately saw a potential for commercial success in the talent and dedication of the four young me who, several years ago, would never have dreamed of being in a band that was close to signing on with a major record label.

“I am impressed,” says Halsey, “with their originality, their desire and their commitment. And they are going to make it.”

“There are a lot of people out there with great talent that never do anything because they never focused on what they’re doing. I believe in them [Driven].” ]

- Crystal Kline


Self titled 5 song CD


Feeling a bit camera shy


Abandon any preconceived notion you had about rock music, DRIVEN will defy your expectations. This band of musicians will soon be rocking the music industry, with a fierce new sound and impressive lineup.

Fronted by newcomer Ashlee Bynum, who combines one of the strongest and most intense vocal ranges since Janis Joplin, guitarist Brandon Autry’s powerful lead guitar along with the strong thunderous grooves of drummer Gary Campbell and the undeniable low-end punch of bassist Trey Landis. This combination brings DRIVEN to a unique and elevated status of musicians rarely heard in the music world today.

Hailing from the plains of Oklahoma, DRIVEN has grabbed the attention of some major players in the industry since the release of their first CD in 2002. One of those major players, Jim Halsey has been a dominant figure in the music and entertainment industry for over 50 years, working with some of the most illustrious figures in music including James Brown, Reba McEntire, Roy Orbison, Leon Russell and many others. Halsey and his company, The Jim Halsey Company now represents DRIVEN and have signed them to an exclusive management contract.

DRIVEN’s blizzard of activity has included radio broadcasts and feature guest spots on radio stations throughout the region. As well as a busy show schedule thanks in part to their growing base of fans worldwide and award nominations including the state’s highest musical honor at the 2003 Spot Music Awards.

DRIVEN have a solid standing in music and in life, which include entrepreneurial business ventures. Guitarist, Brandon Autry owns one of the most successful independent music stores in the southwest.

With their talent, attitude and commitment, DRIVEN are well on their way to becoming one of music’s defining bands and long lasting success stories.