Birthday songs aren’t a frequent catalyst for sparking a career change, but then again, few songwriters have aerospace engineering and haiku poetry in their background like Houston guitarist Mark Winters.
Winters, who has a solo show Thursday at the Southern Roots Brewing Company, grew up a military kid who gravitated to math and science in school but found his grandmother encouraging a creative side that expressed itself in poetry, especially haiku.
The math and science side led him to a career in aerospace engineering after graduating from Texas A&M University, but he found working in military aircraft design not entirely satisfying. “It wasn’t my cup of tea. There wasn’t enough camaraderie and social elements for me,” he said in a recent phone interview from his home in Sugar Land.
In 2011, the idea of writing and singing a song to his wife for their birthday planted the seeds for a career change. The songwriting part was one thing, but the music part required something else: learning to play the electric guitar.
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“I like to jump feet first…I bought a guitar and gave myself six weeks to learn how to play,” he recalled, adding that his daughter was helping him in his efforts. The writing and performing experience hooked him, and Winters began to pursue music, starting with a band from Houston, Agave Report. After playing with the band and their mostly cover repertoire, Winters decided he needed to create and perform more original music. “I realized I couldn’t sing words I couldn’t agree with,” he said.
That light rock-propelled path led him to his debut album, “Slipstream,” in 2019, and Winters was gearing up to support him when the COVID-19 pandemic stifled live performances in Texas for months. Winters persisted and now has a second album to promote, “Boundary Layer”, named after the area between a fluid and solid object where movement is in balance.
His Waco Thursday show is part of a nine-show tour of Texas, with a second tour scheduled for August. What audiences will hear is “rock with a positive vibe,” he said, a sound that borrows from Tom Petty, John Mayer and Jason Mraz with a hint of song narration and lyrics pointing to the more positive side of things. “I’m kind of a three-quarters full glass guy,” he says. “I see beauty and joy in life and I resonate with the good that I see.”