Mercy Fort Smith ultrasound tech blends work with passion for music
For Brandon Butler, it’s all about the sound waves.
This is true in his job as an ultrasound technologist at Mercy Fort Smith, but it’s also true when it comes to his love of music. Butler is lead singer and songwriter for The Brandon Butler Band, a group that’s been performing country music together for almost 10 years.
Music has been a part of Brandon’s world his entire life.
“I went on stage for the first time at 15 years old,” Butler said. “It was a talent show in Liberal, Kansas. It was the first time I ever sang in front of people, and I won the grand prize. So, then I was like, ‘There’s something to this!’”
A native of Weatherford, Oklahoma, Butler moved to Sallisaw in 1999 and has worked at Mercy Fort Smith for about three years. Combining both his dedication for work and his love of music might mean a 24-hour day for Butler, but it’s something he enjoys.
“My whole world revolves around sound waves, either out of an ultrasound machine or out of a guitar and a vocal,” Butler said, laughing. “Everything’s sound waves, just different frequencies.”
The band most recently performed Nov. 13 at the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa. Other dates are planned in December, including a New Year’s Eve performance in Sallisaw.
Because of COVID-19 regulations, the band has played fewer gigs than usual this year in front of smaller audiences, which has been frustrating.
“As a musician, you’re wanting that feedback from the crowd, but you’re not getting it now,” Butler said. “We play all over, but this year’s been a fluke. All the musicians are struggling right now. We’ve played Tunica, the Downstream Casino in Joplin, the Hard Rock Casino, all the major casinos here locally.”
Butler added that the fans are ready for live music to make a return.
“I think people are eager for it, but you have to use common sense,” he said.
The Brandon Butler Band features all local musicians, including drummer Don Martin; Rick Endel on keyboards; Michael Brinson on guitar; and Elijah Brinson on bass.
“My band makes it easy, they’re so good,” Butler said. “We don’t really even practice; we just tell each other what song we’re going to play and we show up and everybody knows their part. We’ve played together so long that we don’t need to talk about things. We’ve got that camaraderie, that brotherhood going on at this point.”
Butler has long struggled with social anxiety, something you wouldn’t expect from the lead singer of a band that has performed in front of thousands. But being a singer puts Butler in a position to allow music to help him overcome his fears.
“It has helped with my social anxiety a lot,” he said. “When you’re a lead singer, everyone presumes you’re this outgoing guy, and so I’ve had to kind of take on that role more than I would have if I weren’t a musician.”
“I can get on stage in front of 5,000 people with my band and light up. It’s just my element. It’s where I feel most at home,” he continued. “But when I walk off that stage, it’s hard; I struggle with it a lot.”
Butler figured out early in life that the arts were “his thing,” whether it’s music or even languages. He taught himself to speak Spanish and often serves as a translator while on the job at Mercy. He encourages others to pursue what they love, whether it’s music, sports or something else.
Even though he’s the leader of a country music band, Butler said he enjoys all kinds of music.
“I sing and play country music, but I literally love everything from rap to heavy metal to country to old rock ‘n’ roll to indie rock,” he said. “When you’re a musician, that’s just kind of how it is. You pick parts of the songs out that you like or the arrangement … my mind’s just always thinking about music. It’s part of being a musician.”
As for his future, Butler said he really can’t imagine his life without his work in health care, but he’s enjoyed the friendships, fun and a little bit of fame that music has provided him.
“It really is for fun at this point,” he said. “I’m not going to go to Nashville and become a star … but just because you’re not famous doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do. These guys in my band could hang with any musician, I’m certain of it. They’re great. But this is the life they chose for themselves.
“It’s cool where music takes you, because it takes you places you wouldn’t otherwise go.”
Music by The Brandon Butler Band is available on iTunes here as well as at reverbnation.com. Fans can keep up with the band on its Facebook page at Facebook.com/BrandonButlerBand.
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems for four consecutive years (2016 to 2019) by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy includes more than 40 acute care, managed and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, 900 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 45,000 co-workers and 2,400 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy's IT division, Mercy Technology Services, and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast.