- John English
Chris Journeay turned bad luck into an opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream
A moped accident 10 years ago proved to be one of the worst things – and also one of the best – that’s ever happened to Chris Journeay.
The Azle man sustained multiple injuries in the accident that rendered him convalescent for quite some time, when all he really wanted to do was go back to work. Journeay had experience in different professions from server to construction worker, but was unable to work eight straight hours due to his injuries. It was then, at one of the most difficult times of his life, that opportunity knocked.
“Some people told me about a guy playing music at a restaurant in Azle where I live,” Journeay said. “He would go in there and play for tips. A friend of mine told me about it and said, ‘You know, you’re healthy enough to sit on a bar stool and play a guitar.’ And I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a shot.’”
Journeay, 54, started by performing at two restaurants in Azle, strictly for tips. One evening, the bartender at one of the restaurants told Journeay that a lady sitting at one of the tables wanted to talk to him when he took a break.
“I went over to the lady’s table, and it turned out that she was the activities director at the Richland Hills Rehabilitation Center,” Journeay said. “She said that they had entertainers that played at nursing centers, but that there were not enough of them. She asked me if I would come play for her people and I did.”
After he performed, the activities director had more good news.
“She told me they paid people to do this and gave me a check,” Journeay said. “She asked if I would play for them once a month, and I said sure. I never thought much about it. I played a few months there and was still playing my restaurants for tips.”
Then one day she called him into her office with an idea.
“She said, ‘You’re trying to heal from this wreck and go back to work, and your whole life you’ve wanted to play music,’” Journeay said. “She said, ‘How about if I schedule you at different places and you do this for a living?’ And I said I had never thought about that.”
Journeay had to play for free at multiple venues when he first started out to demonstrate his ability. The Azle man went and performed 40 times in the first month of his new venture completely gratis.
“And about 34 of them hired me to come back the next month,” Journeay said. “So as it turns out, it is what I get to do for a living. I’m not famous and it is not particularly glamorous, but I love music, and I present a true show to them. And I still play bars and restaurants at night, but this is how I make my living.”
Journeay grew up in Mississippi and moved to Texas in 2009. The Azle man said he thoroughly enjoys performing for seniors and actually played at the Senior Synergy Expo in May of 2022.
“That was wonderful,” Journeay said. “I always try to put myself in their shoes, and I remember that one day, God willing, I’m going to get older and I am going to want someone to come and play for me and care about me.”
Journeay has been performing now since 2017, but has been playing music for 43 years. He mainly plays classic country, as well as gospel and patriotic music, which are mostly covers, though he does have a few originals.
“I played at a place recently where a lady motioned to me with her finger to come over,” he said. “She whispered, ‘I like your music.’ That’s all she said. A few other people raised their eyebrows and looked astonished and told me that she has never said a word. That makes you feel good.”
Journeay said he will continue to perform until “I go to heaven,” and said he finds his life very fulfilling.
“I get to do what I love to do for a living, and it makes them happy,” Journeay said. “And that’s a different kind of a payoff. When you go to a place and there is a person who is excited to see you and you find out that they never really get excited about anything, that’s a payoff you can’t really describe.”