Riding Passenger, For Fun and Profit

Chris Collins liked being a rock star, but he loves being a lawyer

Published in 2009 Texas Rising Stars magazine

By Paul Nolan on March 13, 2009


When Chris Collins stepped away from his passion for playing music, he discovered that he enjoyed it even more.

Collins, 37, a partner at Barlow Garsek & Simon in Fort Worth, grew up in a musical family and befriended a guitarist named Cody “Bear” Quisenberry while enrolled at Texas Tech University. The two men started a band called Passenger and, with Collins handling lead vocals, poured out soulful rock ‘n’ roll covers and original songs that earned a respectful fan base in Texas nightclubs.

Between 1991 and 1998, Passenger played nearly 200 gigs a year. Collins and Quisenberry intended to make music full-time for the rest of their lives, but somewhere along the way reality sunk in. “In 1997, I was getting married and needed something to fall back on,” Collins says.

He enrolled at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, but continued to play with Passenger through his first year of law school. Eventually, both he and Quisenberry put music on hold to figure out the rest of their lives.

“Bear and I both struggled with the decision greatly,” Collins says. “We knew it was the responsible thing to do, but we had to make ourselves do it rather than really wanting to do it.”

In 2003, four years after he graduated from law school, he and Quisenberry (who became a successful insurance salesman), recruited new musicians and revived Passenger, which now plays 15 to 20 shows per year. Collins says stepping away from his first love was one of the best decisions he ever made.

“Music is something that I love more dearly than any other part of my life aside from my wife and kids. But when we were doing four shows a week, neither Bear nor I enjoyed playing like we used to,” he says. “We learned the hard way that it’s a lot more rewarding to do it as a hobby than it is as a profession.”

You can hear Passenger and learn about upcoming shows at www.passengerlive.com.

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