Mt. Airy’s rock star, Timothy Showalter, rocks out at the Mercury Lounge in New York City.

Mt. Airy’s rock star, Timothy Showalter, rocks out at the Mercury Lounge in New York City.

by Len Lear

Timothy Showalter, a Mt. Airy resident, may not be a household name, but in the world of rock music, his star has definitely been rising as he has been playing bigger and bigger music venues and touring the country almost non-stop.

But Showalter, 32, who resembles Rock icon Bob Seger (“Old-Time Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”), has run into more detours than a trip through Pennsylvania, one of which almost cost him his life.

After high school in Goshen, Indiana, where he grew up, Showalter moved to Pennsylvania briefly, then returned to Indiana to marry his high-school sweetheart. While Showalter was on tour, however, that relationship fell apart, and Timothy moved back to Wilkes-Barre in 2003 to take a job teaching second grade. A couple months later, however, he came home to find his house burned down. Showalter spent his nights in hotels and on park benches with a borrowed guitar while working at an orthodox Jewish day school.

Despite the turmoil, he was able to find inspiration to continue writing music that would later be released. In 2010, Showalter married again and moved to Philadelphia. On Christmas Day in 2013, however, Showalter and his wife, Sue, were driving back to Philadelphia from Indiana after visiting his parents when they hit a patch of ice and crashed into two semi trucks. Showalter suffered a concussion and broke every rib on his right side.

“We were only 15 minutes away from my parents’ house, just starting the 13-hour drive to Philly,” recalled Timothy. “My wife was driving. We hit a patch of ice on the turnpike, back tires spinning. The car made a 360-degree turn and wound up in the opposite lane.

“We were hit by two semi trucks going 70 miles per hour. It was bad as you can do it and not die. I do not remember any of it. Woke up in hospital. I had a concussion and all my ribs broken on the right side. The doctor said I may get my memory back of that incident.

“We had no wallets or ID when I woke up, but a nurse knew my dad. There are not too many men with tattoos and long hair in Goshen, a rural area, so I sort of stood out. The area is so rural that the hospital has a horse and buggy rigging for Amish people.”

One thing the near-fatal accident did not destroy was Timothy’s sense of humor. “I figured it was time for a new car anyway,” he mused. “The doctor said things would suck for six months, and that’s exactly how long it took to recover. I am OK now, though.”

Showalter always wanted to be a musician. Since he was a kid, he played music to unwind, and he has always been a touring musician as an adult, even when he was still in college. He played bars, basements, any place that would have him.

Last year was huge for Timothy and his four-man band (including him), Strand of Oaks. They sold more records than in the previous nine years combined. They played at some major Philly venues such as Johnny Brenda’s and at Union Transfer in early December for 900 people.

The name Strand of Oaks came from joking around in college. “We looked up scientific groupings in the dictionary, and ‘Stand of Oaks’ was one of the names,” said Timothy. “We have definitely been busy. I was only home in Mt. Airy for one month in 2014.”

By a remarkable coincidence, Strand of Oaks had already written and recorded an album called “Heal” before his car accident. “The album is about trying to get over your problems. It fits. If this story was made into a Hollywood movie, viewers would say it had to be fiction. But it really happened. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

According to a review in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, “Timothy Showalter’s creativity breakthrough (on ‘Heal,’ on Dead Oceans label) rocks out with passion and fights through the pain with winning, seize-the-day sincerity.”

Timothy and his band will do the festival circuit starting in March all over Europe and America. “I don’t know anything else,” he said. “I just keep trying to make the music and the shows better. The more you work on your craft, people can sense it. My career has done much better the harder I work. I don’t need my ego fed. I don’t give a crap about what is in fashion. I just love to share my music with people.”

Timothy originally came to the Philadelphia area to attend Eastern U. in Radnor, but he only lasted one semester. For years he went back and forth from Indiana to Philly, but he has lived in Mt. Airy since 2009.

“I like living in the city but not near center city,” he said. “It is a great escape up here. There are so many arteries to get into the park. I spend a lot of time wandering around in the park with my headphones up on the rocks. People probably think I am an artist or a homeless guy.”

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  • Gemini

    I first heard Timothy and his band, Strand of Oaks, on WXPN and also saw them on one of the late night talk shows. Good music!