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{Review} Josh Weathers – Wild Ones

Josh Weathers career can be described in many ways, but mercurial may perhaps be the most fitting adjective. Never one to follow the herd, Weathers has found success on his own terms. The viral nature of modern social media brought him to the doorstep of major label and reality TV fame and fortune, but he walked away because it didn’t square with what’s in his heart. A man that has the type of self-confidence and belief in the Plan, is not one to be taken lightly. Weathers has always had more talent than just about anyone around him. He’s a gifted entertainer, deft vocalist and adept guitar slinger. His style has grown from singer/songwriter to blue-eyed soul revivalist to praise leader to country crooner to where we are now which is a mixture of all those elements.

Owing to his pattern of doing things in his own time and way, his latest release, Wild Ones, comes out a full decade after his previous album Big Night in the City. As referenced in his recent 20 Questions interview, Weathers attests that this new project is probably the closest he’s come to capturing his live show intensity in a studio format. If you’ve been to a Weathers show in the past few years, many of these songs will be familiar. Album opener, “Sometime” has been the standard third of fourth song in the set when he wants to change the pace. Full of graceful multi-part harmonies, resonating guitar and lyrics regarding the mansion awaiting us all upstairs. Chris Watson’s keys play a prominent role in propelling the song to a powerful crescendo. The title track was released before the album and it is a catchy, triumphant testament to celebrating life buoyed by some contemporary production techniques. “Before I Met You” was once described by Weathers as his attempt to write a Stevie Wonder song (he succeeded). One of the most impactful tracks on the record is the arresting cover of Mike and the Mechanics “Living Years”. Knowing Weathers’ backstory of losing his father as a teenager enables the tune to pack an even greater punch.

The main reason this is a successful album is the feelings it creates. Much like a live Weathers show, this collection of songs is life affirming. You feel better upon listening, even when he’s cutting deep into your soul. His vocals take you to church, the guitars take you to the rock show and the melodies are firmly planted down on the fun side of town. The only qualm one can really find with this record is that it’s only 8 tracks. It’s the perfect complement to many of life’s activities and doesn’t quite sound like anything else. This record could be as big as Josh Weathers wants it to be. And the cool thing about that is that none of us know exactly how big that truly is.

{20 Questions} Josh Weathers, 2nd ed.

I first interviewed Josh Weathers back in 2012. At the time, he was riding a rocketship of buzz that was created from a career making set at LJT and the start of a viral sensation from his cover from the Kessler in Dallas of “I Will Always Love You” (now over 2 million views). He was beating around Texas in a beat up van playing anywhere that would have him.

That was then, this is now. Weathers is now an established headliner who plays when he wants to. He’s become one of the most well-known entertainers in the region and beyond. His family has grown, his career has grown and now his catalog has grown. His latest record, Wild Ones, drops on Friday and he caps release week with a show at Billy Bob’s on Saturday that is sure to sell out. In this edition of 20 Questions we cover all of it. Enjoy!

1. It’s been 7 years since we last did this.  That’s a long time!  You’ve had quite a bit happen during that time period.  Among other things…you put out some records, adopted some children, started an Indian orphanage, gained massive success in business outside music, stepped back from music for a while, went viral for the same video a few times, played President Trump’s Inauguration, and established yourself as one of the premier live acts in Texas.

What’s the biggest difference between 2012 Josh and 2019 Josh?

I would say all of those experiences have changed me drastically… I’ve really embraced the opportunity for personal growth. Embarking on our non-profit, adopting kids, building a business, playing for the president… have all humbled me time and time again. I would say I am far more confident in my identity as a man then I was in 2012. 

2.  Your gigging calendar has transitioned to quality over quantity.  That’s a luxury many musicians don’t have when they’re on the come up.  What’s the best piece of advice you received as a young musician that you like to impart now that you’re a veteran?

I am really grateful for the 10 years I spent playing anywhere and everywhere. I would say don’t be in a hurry for the lime light. That may be contradictory to culture, but I say take some time to figure yourself out and what makes you special. Also, go play weddings…learn how to entertain people, we need more great entertainers! 

3.  Name association:

Pat Green – Legend

Seth James – Hero

Cody Canada – Rockstar

Wade Bowen – Friend to all.

-Kylie Rae Harris – Songstress

Adam Hood – Hero #2

-Steve Helms – Big brother…decent golfer, (laughs).

-William Clark Green – The Beatles and Stones tune is the best jam in Texas Music of the last 10 years.

4.  You cut your teeth in the landscape of 4 hour Stockyard gigs alongside a young lady named Maren Morris. You’ve also been privy to the rise of Leon Bridges from your backyard too.  The question is two-fold, did you predict them becoming superstars? Do you ever regret not choosing that path as well?

I can honestly say, and you can ask any of my friends, I called it with both of them! The level of stardom they’ve reached however, nobody could have predicted. I’m famous at my house every Saturday morning when I make pancakes. That will do for now! (laughs)

5.  Related to that, what do you think makes the Fort Worth/817 music scene so fertile?  The talent pool in Fort Worth seems to be deeper than just about anywhere and people continue to flock to it.

Fort Worth doesn’t have a thing per se that makes the music sound a certain way. Certain cities, it seems, are genre specific if that makes sense. Fort Worth gives artists an opportunity to just be themselves. 

6.  The new record, Wild Ones, was produced with a new plan in place for you. In the past you’ve had your frequent collaborator Nick Choate co-produce with you. This time, you took a new route. What’s the one thing you’d like folks to know about the making of this record?

Nick and I have been brothers for 15 years. He gets what I love about music, but we decided to leave the hard decisions to someone else this time. I had a friend named Michael Howell produce this one at his studio in North Fort Worth. I felt it was time we give someone else that control. We just had fun being musicians this time. I explained my vision to Michael and he made it happen.

7.  It feels like the studio quality of your music is finally catching up to the level of your performance and songwriting.  Do you feel like Wild Ones is the best studio representation you have of what you deliver live?

Absolutely, that was a big goal for this record. We wanted to create that same energy in the studio, and I think we did a good job.

8.  Favorite touring memory of the following towns:

New Braunfels – Playing Gruene Hall the first time at KNBT Americana jam to a packed house right after Robert Earl Keen.

Austin – Playing Stubbs to a packed house with my buddy Luke Wade.

Houston – We used to play this little joint in Conroe like ten times a year… too many stories there!

Lubbock – Playing The Blue Light after being gone for two years and seeing a line wrapped around the block when we pulled up. That was a great feeling.

Oklahoma City – Wormy Dog.

Tyler – One time we looked up Robin Hood Bryan’s studio while we were playing in town. ZZ top made their first two records there. We went by there and he was home! He let us hang out a few hours and told us all kinds of stories.

Amarillo – One of my favorite towns, Hoot’s is always great to us.

San Angelo – We were playing Blaine’s and Texas legend Augie Myers got up and sat in with us.

Bryan/College Station – We played a joint there once with Somebody’ Darling and we sang a “Small Town Saturday Night” together to a packed house. It went off!!

9.  You’ve gotten to see or perform with a great number of legends and fantastic musicians; if you could play a gig with one other act currently working, who would it be and why

That’s a tough question…. I’d say Stevie Wonder. Nobody changes the atmosphere like Stevie Wonder. That dude is a legend and just oozes joy. 

10.  You’ve played in countless bars and venues, and you’ve also played in church settings with praise bands.  The audiences of both aren’t that dissimilar are they? I’m assuming the same things that get folks excited in a honky-tonk, also get them grooving in behind the pews.  

My job is really the same to me no matter where I’m playing.. I want to create an atmosphere love, joy and gratitude. I want my gift to be used to give God glory in every setting. 

11.  Have you given any thought to doing a full-blown live album with an extended band of backup singers, horns, complementary guitar players etc in a really good venue?  

That’s on the schedule for 2020!

12.  Stories behind the following songs:

-”Big Night in the City” –I wrote it with idea of young love in a small town in mind.

”That Kind of Man” – I wrote this about a young lady who, more or less, asked me out knowing full and well I was married. The incident kind of caught me off guard because she was dead serious. 

-”Wild Ones” – I wrote this for the folks that are on the front lines risking their necks to share the gospel. That’s the easiest explanation.

”Before I Met You” – Before I met my wife I thought I had it all figured out….(laughs).

”From This Day On” – About my walk with Jesus.

”Sometime” –I was really inspired by a hymnal that my grandmother gave me. A lot of the lyrics really moved me. Part of the lyric in this is taken from a song in that hymnal written about 120 years ago! 

13.  The record also features a cover of the Mike and the Mechanics hit “Living Years”.  What motivated you to cover that song on the record? Were there any others you considered?

I lost my Dad when I was 19. That song really gets me. I recorded it for him.

14. The musical journey through your completely respectful impressions of folks like George Strait, Bruno Mars and Prince pepper your live show.  Is there any impression that is only found behind the wheel of your truck that hasn’t made it to the show yet?

I don’t think so, (laughs).

15. One time, at the Saxon Pub in Austin, I heard you bust out an impromptu cover of Ace’s “How Long” because y’all had heard it on the radio while driving to the show.  Choate and Blaine Crews just smiled and followed you. Has there ever been a moment when you pull something out and they just have to leave you stranded because they don’t know where you’re going?  

(laughs) Nope, somehow they’ve always got me!

16.  It’s 3am and you’re driving home from a show.  You stop at a Buc-ee’s. What are you walking back to the van with?

Texas club sammich, Topo Chico…some of those warm cinnamon pecans, probably a new pair of overpriced Sanuk sandals, and a Yeti hat, even though I don’t own a Yeti cooler. (laughs)

17. You have a very distinctive and unique style.  Do you get help with that? What’s your favorite vintage shop?

Nope, I shop alone. I don’t shop vintage much anymore. It’s funny how different a large was in 1975! (laughs)

18.  Rapid fire:

Topo Chico Original  or Topo Chico With Lime? Original

Favorite restaurant in Fort Worth? Man, that’s too tough. Bonnell’s, Capital Grille and Salsa Limon are some of my favorites.

Favorite movie? Lonesome Dove

Vinyl or Streaming? Streaming

Salsa or Queso? Both!

19.  This is the spot that we usually ask what your favorite George Strait song is, but you’ve already answered that (“Friday Night Fever” which you cover sometimes). You mentioned in that last interview that if you met George you’d “croak”.  With all your adventures over the past 7 years, have you come close to meeting him?  

I know people that know him I just haven’t had the guts to ask any of them for the hookup.

20. What’s your favorite Bible verse?

Matthew 6:33

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