311 Fan Spotlight – Stephen Gwaltney – 9/28/15


Hey hey again my excitable companions! It’s that time again, time to meet the new fan spotlight! Let me introduce you to Mr. Stephen Gwaltney!

Early nineties radio is how 311 was introduced into Stephen’s life. Then in 1996 they came to Nashville the day after his 18th birthday. His friend Jeff bought him a ticket as a gift, but they both worked together and their boss wasn’t going to let them have the night off. “So we both quit and went to the show. From the moment they took the stage I was hooked! Can’t really pinpoint exactly what draws me to their music. It’s just the positive vibes with a funky beat.”

75 is the count of live shows Stephen has seen with his wife, but he didn’t keep count until they got together so he’s probably closer to the 85 mark. When asked his favorite event or show, he had a hard time choosing because they basically plan their vacations around the big 311 events. “But if I had to choose just one, I would say cruise 4. Something magical happened on that deck while they were doing the Soundsystem set.”

The song “Sun Come Through” is one that Stephen loves, he says it gives him goosebumps every time he hears it. However he doesn’t have a specific song that means something special to him. “Stereolithic gives me the feels. I listened to that album at least once a day for at least 18 months straight…which reminds me, I need to listen to Stereolithic again lol!” Some of his favorite lyrics are: “Stay positive and love your life,” “Life’s a bowl of punch, go ahead and spike it,” and “The ones who aggravate you most and happen to be ever close, seem to be the ones lurching for the same things you are searching. The ones that make you feel ill and you think that nature should have killed, those curse when you’re alone, seem to be so close to home.”

Lexington, Kentucky is Stephen’s place of origin and he moved around a lot up until the fourth grade (he moved from K.Y. to Florida, back to K.Y. and then back to F.L.) when he finally landed in Nashville, Tennessee. Even though he changed schools a bunch he didn’t mind and says it’s probably why he likes meeting new people. At age 11 he began playing bass and was in a band all through high school. When he turned 18 though they all decided to go their separate ways and it was shortly after that he went to his first club to see a DJ. “Once I saw the way the DJ made the crowd move I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I started DJing house music.” Shortly after that his friend Jeff, the one who took him to 311, introduced him to his wife. “She was a 311 fan AND a house head, it was meant to be! We’ve been together for over 17 years. No kids, just fur babies. I think we love traveling so much that slowing down to have kids wasn’t going to happen.”

In 2003 they moved to Chicago because they both wanted a change and it’s the birthplace of house music. “If I was rich I would own a summer home in Chicago. Greatest city in the world…during the summer. Winters can suck it lol.” Stephen started doing an internet radio show while in Chicago. It gave him a global audience and ultimately helped him get more gigs all over the U.S. and Europe. He still does the show on Friday nights at 8pm CST. Check it out on www.sugarshackrecordings.com.

Now back in Nashville (because they got tired of the winters), he has a monthly DJing residency and still travels for gigs occasionally. He’s mostly been focusing on his new business called Synergy Digital Graphics. “I do dye sublimation printing on t-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and all kinds of other swag. I’ve been in the sign and large format printing industry for almost 20 years. This year I started my own company and do consulting for other start up printing businesses.” Oh and for those peeps in the Familia, he’s the one who made the new logo decals and he has been handing them out for almost 2 years now!

Fun fact about Stephen, he is a registered Native American (Osage). He is also a master at those claw machines. “I win so many plush toys from them that I donate several trash bags full of them each year for Christmas.” Guilty pleasure would be listening to movie scores while he works. “Do anything to the score from the Dark Knight movies and you’ll feel like a bad ass!”

Other bands that Stephen loves include: Tool, Muse, Pink Floyd, Pigeon John, Rebelution, Arctic Monkeys. Then the DJ’s he’s into are: Derrick Carter, Mark Farina,  Hardkiss Bros., Giom, Inland Knights, and Corduroy Mavericks.

His personal message to 311 is a simple two words – “THANK YOU!!!” And his message to all the fans is the same:

“I guess I would just say the same thing to them, THANK YOU!!! Thanks for bringing your energy to the live shows. Thank you for continuing to support 311. Thank you for stopping me on the street because I have on a 311 hat or shirt and giving me a high five and a hug. THANK YOU!!!”


That is Stephen’s tale of his love for 311! Hope you all had fun reading as much as I did writing his story. Thanks for taking the time to meet Stephen! Now go kick some butt and have an excellent week. Until we meet again!

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – Brett Travis – 9/21/2015


Greetings and salutations my excitable friends! Welcome back for the new edition of the 311 fan spotlight. This week we learn all about Mr. Brett Travis!

The year – 1994. The place – a hibachi steak house. Brett was working there at the time and prior to one of his shifts, he was hanging out at his coworker/friends apartment “getting right” as he called it. The friend put on the album Grassroots for Brett to listen to. “I was instantly drawn to the dual vocalists, the slap bass, and the psychedelic feel of that album.” Not long after his introduction to 311, another friend at work heard Brett talking about the band and let him borrow his bootleg copy of Music. Then shortly after that the Blue album was released and 311 played at the Electric Ballroom in Knoxville. From then on, Brett was hooked.

The “secret show” at the Hive Bar in Omaha was number 129 for Brett. He’s seen them in 32 different states. His favorite individual show was number 100 in Chicago in 2014. “Nick dedicated “Borders” to me. What an unbelievable honor and they slayed that track. I was over the moon.” Then favorite event so far has been cruise number 2. “So much going on, so many good people, so man good shows. And 311 on the beach!”

“All Mixed Up” is the song that means the most to Brett, since it’s sort of become he and his wife Suzanne’s song since they started traveling to shows together. Some of his favorite lyrics are: “We spend our lives learning, if you like learning, life is large. It could never be only the ups, the downs will always come around” and “And if you don’t know I say check the show, do what you got to on the dance floor.”

Knoxville, Tennessee is where Brett was born and raised. Both of his parents were teachers and he has one younger sister named Paige. He and his family traveled a lot while he was growing up. “My parents took advantage of the summer breaks from teaching school, and we made the most of those opportunities to see the country.  My parents are big baseball fans, so lots of our travels included visiting major league ballparks to see games.  We made many trips to Florida for spring training games.  My mom is a civil war buff, and I can’t tell you how many civil war battlefields we toured.  But it wasn’t all history museums and educational stuff!  We went to theme parks and beaches and did fun stuff, too.  Looking back, it’s amazing all the stuff we got to do on two public school teacher salaries.”

College wasn’t something Brett took very seriously so he didn’t last long after he started. After spending a couple of years working in food service he landed a job at a local magazine publisher where he learned a great deal about desktop publishing, the printing business, and troubleshooting personal computers.

Brett met his wife Suzanne at a University of Tennessee football tailgate back in the fall of 1998. They then had their first date attending a UT/Arkansas game and announced their engagement to their family on New Years Eve the following December. While Suzanne attended UT Pharmacy they lived in Memphis and he worked at a label manufacturing company plant. They then spent a year in Murfreesboro before moving back to Knoxville in 2004. Suzanne’s job then required them to move to Indianapolis in 2013 and they still reside there. “We miss the mountains, but are enjoying life in Indy.”

Back in 1997, Brett was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, which is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes your colon to become enflamed because it thinks it’s supposed to be fighting some sort of attack against the body. For sixteen years he battled the disease with medications to keep the inflammation under control. He was on Prednisone which is a great drug for the treatment but did damage to his muscles and bone structure, something he’ll be dealing with the rest of his life. Finally his doctors decided to remove his colon and he had the procedure done in 2013. It took two surgeries and he is doing well now after the second. “ I have what’s called a J-pouch, which means I don’t have an appliance, and I get to make poops like a real boy!  My fingers are crossed that the J-pouch gives me years of good service.  My wife and family and friends have been super loving and supportive throughout the whole ordeal, and I’d be nowhere without them.”

Some things that make Brett unique are he’s great at video editing, which he credits the bug for that to his pops, who was a semi-pro videographer. “I’ve really enjoyed putting together videos from our travels. Several of the videos are from our 311 trips.” Many of you may know that Brett also makes these awesome souvenirs to give away at various 311 events. “If you’ve gotten one, I hope you enjoy seeing it occasionally and remembering the fun time you had at that show.” If you want to see the souvenirs or videos you can check them out at http://btravis311.wix.com/weakcookies. His guilty pleasure though is Farm Story 2 for iPhone. “I’m 10,000 coins away from being able to expand to Jeb’s Old Water Garden!!!”

Aside from 311, Brett has a few other favorite bands. The list includes Mastodon, Queens of the Stone Age, Faith No More, Tool, and Beastie Boys.

Brett did something original with my question about what one sentence you would say to the guys if you could – he rephrased my question to read, “If you could present a manifesto (or merely a spoiled superfan rant!) to the band, what would you say?” His answer was so well written, I couldn’t resist letting the one sentence rule slide! Here is his manifesto to 311:

“Dearest 311 Dudes,

Remember that awesome 311 Day show in Memphis in 2006?  Yep, me too.  I was there, going bananas with my friends.  You were there, playing all the super sick jammy jams.  I also remember that HDNET was there, filming the whole thing in HD.  Wasn’t that cool?  I’m sure we can agree that it was.  Let’s also agree that, while it was a really special thing that HDNET created a 2-hour special from that footage, and presented it in spectacular high-def with great sound, it was kind of bummer that they didn’t show the WHOLE thing.  They FILMED the whole thing, right?  I’m sure that most everyone would say that what makes a 311 Day so special is the experience as a whole, not just selections from the show.  But still, that special they broadcast WAS awesome, and we loved it and cherished it and saved it on the DVR for years until we had to surrender the DVR to DirecTV.   Now I, like a lot of fans, just figured, “OK, so they didn’t show the whole thing.  That footage will see the light of day sometime.  It will be a great day when THAT happens, so I’ll just be patient.”  Yet, here we are.  It’s 2015, and we still don’t have access to that gem.  At this point, I figure it’s never going to see the light of day as a consumer product.  Heck, I’d just be somewhat sated if I were told just what exactly has become of it.  I mean, is it lost?  Tied up in a legal quagmire? Is it sitting in Mark Cuban’s basement?  Did Katie Daryl trade it for a Snickers bar and a Diet Coke?  Please just tell me where it is and why I can’t throw all of my money at you to get my greedy little paws on it.  Please and thanks so much, and keep up the great work.

Respectfully in lifelong adoration and friendship,


Now that you’ve read the manifesto, he’s got a personal message to all the awesome people in the 311 community:

“Thanks to all the friendly faces and charming fans we’ve met along the way.  You guys are a huge reason that we continue to travel and stay involved with this community.  See you at the shows!”


There you have the story of Brett Travis my friend! A great read in my opinion and I hope you all enjoyed learning more about him. Thank you, as always, for your continued support of my project, introducing you to more and more fans each week! Keep on being awesome and spreading that positivity.

Much love – The Runt



311 Fan Spotlight – Luke Valla aka Zedanko Earthling! 9/14/15



Hey there excitable ones! Welcome again to another edition of the 311 fan spotlight. Let’s get this party started…time to meet Luke Valla, a.k.a. Zedanko Earthling!

The year was either 1994 or 1995 when Zedanko was given a tape with Music on one side and Grassroots on the other. “I was getting a ride home from my friends sister and she was listening to it. I expressed my appreciation of the jams and she offered the tape to me.” Zed said it was really the stoner/marijuana element that drew him into the music. “They seemed to represent what we stood for even when it came to blazing thee herb!”

Somewhere between twenty and twenty-four is where Zed stands for live shows. It wasn’t until he was in his late twenties when he started seeing them in concert. He said before that it was just the “anticipation of the next album.” Favorite event so far has been the fourth cruise, which was his first.

“Visit” is Zedanko’s favorite song. “Since my very first listen it has had a home deep in my heart. I love SA’s verse ‘Livin’ when your hungry.’ I felt like I could relate to this song.”

Zedanko Earthling is a nickname that Luke prefers to go by, and you can also call him Zed. He grew up in Los Angeles, raised by a devout Southern Baptist church six days a week. To fund his 311 habit he does labor in the construction field and also sells paintings.

One interesting fact you may not know about Zedanko? “I dream of being a hippie.” Something that makes him stand out is that he’s been known to display ESP at times. “I’ve been known to be a lucky charm. I also read Tarot.” Guilty pleasure? “Coffee ice cream topped with heavy cream and snacking at midnight.”

Some other bands that Zedanko listens to are Dengue Fever, Tame Impala, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Damien Marley, and Bunny Wailer.

His message to the band is a great one:

“Thank you for lending much inspiration and challenging me as I grow here on Earth!”

And to all the fellow fans, the message is simple:

“Reconsider everything!”


There you have the story of Zedanko Earthling my friends! I hope you enjoyed it, as always, and thank you for reading about your fellow excitables! Remember we are all one big community trying to spread that positivity and love. Until we meet again, keep on being amazing!

Much love – The Runt

311 Fan Spotlight – Michael Simonetti – 9/7/15


Good morning my friends in the wonderful 311 nation! Welcome again to another fan spotlight! It’s time to meet fellow excitable Michael Simonetti!

Right after 311 Day 2006 is when Michael started to grow interest in 311. He knew some of their songs but nothing really about the band in general. It was a neighbor across from where he lived that introduced him to their awesomeness and shortly thereafter he started listening to them more and more. Then in 2007 he attended his first concert at the Mud Island Amphitheater, right on the Mississippi. “My brother, who is 10 years older than me, happened to be a big fan and took me. I’ve been hooked ever since, spending lots of time making more excitables and introducing folks to the greatness it is. I continue relationships with much of these badass peeps and they all rep the 311 Familia stickers in Memphis! (Thanks Stephen)”

Around 22 to 23 shows is the tally Michael is at now. He went to 311 Day 2014 and had a blast. However he said the third cruise tops it. “Even with the weather if was by far the most unreal experience.”  While he couldn’t figure out his favorite song (although he could probably narrow it down to a top ten) he does have some lyrics that he loves: “On the scales of desire your absence weighs more than someone else’s presence,” “When I look at you it’s like praying with my eyes,” and “Think of all the good times, instead of wish we could times.”

Michael, 23,  was born and raised in Memphis and is currently a senior at The University of Memphis. He says it’s funny that all of his older siblings loved 311 back in the day and he’s gotten them all back into them now. He loves to play and watch sports. Guilty pleasure? 311 of course! He also said another one is FIFA. Something you may not know about him is that he’s a “damn good whistler.”

Michael is into a variety of music genres. “I love everything from Jack Johnson to Korn.”  He’s also gotten into some great bands thanks to 311 such as Pepper and Rebelution. Then some of his other favorites are The Urge, Incubus, The Beatles, and Breaking Benjamin.

Michael’s message to 311 is this:

“I would just like to thank the band for all they have brought to my life.”

Now to all the amazing fellow fans:

“I love the Familia and our clique! Y’all rock!!”


That’s Michael’s story my friends! Thank you for reading as always and I hope you found it enjoyable. Until we meet again…go out and spread that love & positivity.

Much love! – The Runt