In pursuit of bigger musical dreams

Liam Tully entertains fans in Camas-Washougal and beyond

Liam Tully’s parents have told him he used to dance around on the fireplace mantle at the age of 3 or 4 with a plastic Mickey Mouse guitar and pretend to play “Johnny B. Goode.”

Tully then got involved in theater, until he said playing the guitar started to consume his life.

“I’ve always just loved that energy and connection with an audience — making people forget where they are for a minute,” he said. “It feels like being the conductor on a train to another dimension.”

Now 22, Tully is spending part of his summer performing around the community. He entertained diners at the Puffin Cafe, in Washougal, Saturday night.

In June, he sang at the Camas Farmer’s Market. This summer, Tully is also working on two tracks, recording them for release in late September.

His album, ‘Love At Third Sight,’ is available to purchase at or download on All of the songs were written, arranged and performed by Tully.

He dedicated the album in December 2012 to his father, Tim, who served as co-producer with him.

Tully said there are challenges to performing solo.

“It’s just me, my voice, and my guitar to hold people’s attention,” he said. “There are no other band members to hide behind or lean on for support, but there’s also a freedom in performing solo. You can improvise totally on the fly and follow where you sense the audience wants you to go.”

When Tully returns to the University of Puget Sound to play with his band, the song structure is a little more set but the energy increases.

He performs with Johnny Mei, a violinist who is classically trained in Balkan music.

“Our bassist, Austin Schmalz, is a crazy-talented, dyed-in-the-wool funk bass player,” Tully said. “When you put the three of us together, the music that comes out is strange and beautiful.

“I love those guys,” he added. “I push them, and they challenge me to be better.”

Tully is majoring in U.S. politics and minoring in economics and Chinese.

After he graduates next year, he will pursue song writing opportunities in Los Angeles.

“The plan is to continue to write, record and produce, while marketing my songs to pop artists who are in need of material,” Tully said.

That is a career path that artists such as Bruno Mars and Ryan Tedder, of OneRepublic, have followed.

“They develop a reputation as writers/producers who can reliably deliver hits to artists, and the demand for their skills starts coming from bigger and bigger artists until they’re writing and producing for artists like Beyonce, CeeLo and Adele,” Tully said. “By this time, any record company worth its salt is much more willing to bet their money on funding a record for one of these guys [rather] than an unknown band that’s never written a hit single.”

Tully said he has the blessing and the curse of multiple passions. He has spent a lot of time developing his knowledge in politics and is considering a career in law or public service.

“But I know music is a young man’s game, and I want to give it my shot before I have a head full of gray hairs,” Tully said.

He is putting together a five-year plan for his music with specific goals that he has to reach in order to continue pursuing it.

“The deadlines give my pursuits a certain urgency and given the countless challenges that I’m sure I’ll face in such a cutthroat industry, that should help keep me focused,” Tully said.