Saturday, October 13 – Demontrond Stage
Authenticity isn’t something that can be manufactured in a studio. It’s not a craft that can be learned or artfully practiced. It comes from living life. It’s the by-product of blood, sweat and tears and as the foundation for music, it elevates mere entertainment to compelling art.
“You’ve just got to be true to yourself and you can’t fool anybody,” Randy Rogers says of the band’s philosophy. “As a whole, our body of work is pretty consistent with our live show, and the band that plays on the record is the band that you go see.”
The Texas-based band has kept its lineup intact since 2002, and the group has reached the Top 5 of Billboard’s country albums chart with each of its last three studio releases, including 2016’s “Nothing Shines Like Neon.” The group recently completed a new album, set for mid-2018 release, at Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A with GRAMMY-winning producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson).
Over the course of a dozen releases and multiple major award nominations, Rogers and his band have gone from rowdy college-town bar group to one of the most successful, longest-running acts in the always burgeoning Texas music scene. A group that’s regularly on the road 200 dates a year is booked deep into 2018 to play fan favorites like “Tequila Eyes,” “Tonight’s Not the Night,” “Kiss Me in the Dark” and “In My Arms Instead” all across the country.
The music has evolved as they’ve soaked up life experience. “As men, we’ve all matured and lived a lot of life together,” Rogers says. “We’ve had a few breakups happen to us. We’ve had babies. We’ve had life changes. I’ve been in this band 17 years so a lot has changed. I still listen to Merle Haggard every night. I mean that hasn’t changed, but a lot has changed for us musically and privately. We all are in a good spot and we all are just as good friends as when we started.”
Camaraderie and creativity have made Rogers and bandmates Geoffrey Hill (guitar), Johnny “Chops” Richardson (bass guitar), Brady Black (fiddle), Les Lawless (drums) and Todd Stewart (utility player) one of the top bands on the competitive Texas music scene.
A native of Cleburne, Texas, Rogers grew up addicted to traditional country music. “I wanted to be George Strait when I was in the sixth grade,” he says. “I grew up listening to Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, I’ve listened to them more than anybody else, my whole life. I always liked songs. I always wanted to find out who wrote the songs and what the songs were about.”
Like many artists, Rogers got his start performing in church and then expanded to local venues. “I could write a song when I was pretty little, 11, 12 or 13,” he says. “It’s like a kid who could do calculus or something. It was just something that clicked in my brain for me. I went and finished college and got a degree in public relations and then started a band.”
Since then the Randy Rogers Band has steadily built a following that has spilled beyond their native Texas.
“You come to a show, you know what you’re going to get,” Rogers says. “We’ve worked hard at making ourselves better on stage and we care about our live show. It’s a way to come out and unwind, and we’ve stuck to writing songs that are about real life, about breakups or divorces, falling in love or babies being born and, in the case of this record, even death, the ups and downs of life. People can relate. That’s what country music is supposed to be. Our band has been around for a long time because there’s no bullshit to us. We’re not in it to be rich and famous. We’re in it to make a living, provide for our families and do something that we all love. You can’t fool people and we haven’t ever tried. I think that’s the key.”
Saturday, October 13 – Demontrond Stage
The best introduction to Jon Wolfe is the basic yet not so simple fact that he’s a country singer and songwriter. Country music, as it was, is and always should be, with boots firmly standing on the bedrock of tradition and an eye focused on taking it into the future. And that, as any fan of true country knows, is no simple proposition.
“At heart, it’s all about being a great singer and storyteller.”
Hence the other best introduction to Jon Wolfe is to hear him sing and share the stories in the songs he performs and writes. And to learn his life story — from small town Oklahoma to the bustling big city commodities trading floor to the dancehalls and honky-tonks of Texas and Oklahoma to Music Row, to give the highlights — and witness his faith in the power of music and determination to touch the hearts of others with something that means so much to him.
It’s world class country music from the American heartland, informed by the great singers that inspired Wolfe — like George Strait, Garth Brooks (a fellow Okie), Clint Black, Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson and Dwight Yoakam, to name a few — yet fired by his own contemporary energy and vision.
Wolfe’s music has been burning up the Texas Charts where he garnered six consecutive Top Ten singles(“Let A Country Boy Love You,” “That Girl In Texas,” “I Don’t Dance,” “It All Happened In A Honky Tonk,” “The Only Time You Call” and “What Are You Doin’ Right Now”), making Wolfe a “must see” act in the Texas touring scene.
“A seasoned performer, Wolfe has opened for some of country’s biggest stars and has played more than 400 live shows over the past four years. ”
His 2010 release, It All Happened In A Honky Tonk, became such a regional success that it was re-released as a Deluxe Edition by Warner Music Nashville in 2013. The album debuted at #34 on the Billboard Album Chart and has collectively sold 25,000 units.
2015’s Natural Man debuted #13 on iTunes, #25 on the Billboard chart, and #8 on the Nielsen SoundScan Top New Artist Albums Chart. It’s been loudly applauded and continues to sell and produce chart-topping singles. The 13-track collection merges Wolfe’s signature traditional sound, influenced by some of country music’s greatest legends, with an edgy, modern energy.
Jon Wolfe’s current single “Boots On A Dance Floor” hit No. 1 on the Texas Regional Radio Report. It’s Jon Wolfe’s 4th consecutive No.1 single! He’s risen to 77,000 monthly Spotify listeners and the single has 470,000 total Spotify streams and counting Added to Spotify’s “Texas Red Dirt” playlist (158,000 followers)
After lots of interest from many boot companies, Olathe Boot Company hopped on board as the “Boots on a Dance Floor” Tour’s official boots sponsor. Jon Wolfe gave away 30 pairs of their boots throughout the tour.
The tour hit over 30 cities from South Texas all the way to California. Highlights were sold out shows in Austin and Corpus Christi, and near sellouts in College Station and Tulsa, OK.
“Wolfe invites country music fans everywhere to dust off your boots, download or spin the single, and come see the electrifying live show that has everyone talking. The numbers don’t lie: Jon Wolfe is the torchbearer for country music.”
Saturday, October 13 – Demontrond Stage
Our favorite songs are like one-night stands: passionate or sad, capable of recalling moments with Proustian power. Our favorite artists are lifelong companions: fixtures we turn to for comfort and highs.
Over the last two decades, Jason Boland and the Stragglers have delivered and become both.
“We’ve always just wanted to entertain ourselves and put out music that would be a part of people’s lives, not just something passing to them,” says Boland. “We want to be something more monolithic.” He pauses and grins as he adds, “We’re just a social experiment at this point.”
Boland is talking about the deep body of work he’s created with his band of jangly honky-tonk aces, the Stragglers––Grant Tracy on bass; drummer and background vocalist Brad Rice; Nick Worley on fiddle, mandolin, and harmonies; and Cody Angel on guitar and pedal steel. Fronted and co-founded by Boland with Tracy and Rice, the band has featured only a handful of other members over the last 20 years, all of whom––whether they’re currently Stragglers or not––are like brothers. As they’ve independently sold more than half a million albums, the outfit has packed iconic dancehalls, theaters, and other big rooms across the country.
With their new recordHard Times are Relative, Boland and the Stragglers stack the smart, road-ready outlaw country longtime fans have come to expect alongside creative risks that flirt with punk and psychedelic sounds. The 10-song collection is a rare blend of instantly gratifying and rewarding of closer listens—a definitively Stragglers accomplishment. “It’s an upbeat album—a lot of fast songs, but it doesn’t try to be fast,” Boland says with characteristic insight. “It just sits in the pocket.”
No one has combined Woody Guthrie’s conscience with Waylon Jenning’s panache quite like Boland and the Stragglers. Since debuting in 1999 with the Lloyd Maines-produced Pearl Snaps, the band has matured without taming their refreshing irreverence. “We always joke that we try to take as much as we can from Lloyd and apply it to producing our own records,” Boland says. “We’ve worked with him so many times. The most obvious thing he taught us is: just be musical. Don’t hammer through the songs like a garage band all the time.”
That mix of subtle musical sophistication and unruly Oklahoma junkyard pedigree has resulted in some of the best independent honky tonk in recent memory. “You just have to be where you are—keep plugging away and doing the best you can at any moment,” Boland says, reflecting on their career thus far. “For a bunch of slackers [like us], that’s not too terribly tough.”
Co-produced by the Stragglers, David Percefull, and Adam Odor, Hard Times are Relativeis the band’s ninth studio record. All songs were recorded live to tape and without the use of any computers—now a Stragglers’ hallmark. Upbeat steel guitar kicks off album opener “I Don’t Deserve You” before Boland’s signature baritone thunders in, smooth and stronger than ever. When fellow sly honky-tonk champ Sunny Sweeney joins him in out-front harmonies, the two become the rootsy dream team you never knew you always wanted.
The album’s title track is a masterpiece: an epic story song about a young orphaned brother and sister depending on the land and one another. Rich details layered over strings paint a scene that’s compelling and lush. The song has become one of Boland’s favorites. “Folk music is hard to write. Country music is hard to write,” he says, reflecting on the difficulty of spinning a long tale while keeping it simple and engaging. “When you hit your own little tuning fork in your head, that one is a hard sell, even to me. But I enjoy that song.”
“Right Where I Began” sounds like vintage Stragglers: clever wordplay and muscly guitars ready for two-steppers. Fiddle and vocal showcase “Searching for You” shows off Rice’s and Worley’s harmonies that are downright divine. Crunchy guitars drive “Dee Dee OD’d” as Boland offers another round of wry observations. Easy gem “Going Going Gone” makes a solid argument for fiddle in rock-and-roll as Boland deftly turns a baseball metaphor into a classic leaving song.
Gorgeous waltz “Do You Remember When” bemoans some of modern life’s emphasis on disposability and the dismissal of heritage. Rollicking “Tattoo of a Bruise” picks up the same idea, and is tongue-in-cheek country doo-wop, fueled by fiddle, steel, and drums. “I’m not judging anybody,” Boland clarifies. “Our music has always called it like we see it, right or wrong, smarter or dumber.”
Praise for the past but acknowledgement of nostalgia’s limitations is a career-long theme for Boland, and one that this record continues to carry. “We don’t want to lose the chili recipes and the Schroeder Halls because people are moving on to faster, louder, and newer,” he says. “But instead of just hemming and hawing, remembering what’s old and gone, we want to have new experiences within those frameworks—make memories with what’s left of the good stuff.”
With lines like “Empty pockets don’t mean you need money / It’s just another place to put your hands / And focus on that rock you’ve been kicking / One day it’s going to be a grain of sand,” “Predestined” challenges listeners as it soothes. The song is a lyrical victory for Boland, who’s long-since become a master of distilling heady ideas into digestible nuggets.
Penned by Oklahoma music godfather Randy Crouch, “Grandfather’s Theme” serves as the album’s climactic closer. Attacked with psychedelic ferocity by the band, the song picks up the record’s recurring concepts of the ground’s insistence on shifting, inevitability, and our complex relationship with the past. Stripped down as Boland sings, the song soars off into a trippy, robust jam-band send-off—a serious triumph especially considering it’s a defiantly analog recording. “We’re fighting the digital world because they can make it so huge,” Boland says, discussing the balancing act of filling out songs while letting them breathe. “I’m really proud if what we did.”
As he mulls over where the Stragglers have been and where they’re headed, Boland comes back to one idea over and over again: he and his band are who they are, and with that genuineness comes grit, beauty, and staying power. “We’re fortunate that we’re not trying to fool anybody,” he says. “That’s what it comes down to. We’re all loners but somehow a team. Now that I can look at it all, I can see: it’s been fun.”
Here’s to the next 20 years.
Saturday, October 13 – Demontrond Stage
Upon meeting Jason, you immediately feel like you are kicking back with an old friend. He has a gift of making everyone feel like family, which allows listeners to relate to him personally through his songs. In 2012, fans and industry alike, named Jason as “One To Watch” as chosen by CMA Close-Up; and with 3 #1’s & 4 top 10’s (in Texas), 2 Billboard charting singles and a #1 CMT Pure 12 Pack music video, it is easy to see what the noise is all about.
Jason’s most recent album “717” received rave reviews from critics and debuted at #12 on the iTunes country chart and top 40 on Billboard country. The greatly anticipated release of “717” follows a string of hits from recent album’s “Keep It Country” and “My Redemption”. With 6 straight Top 20 radio singles and fresh off a #1 with his most recent single “Rest of Forever”, Jason is excited to continue building momentum. “I’m more ready than ever,” says Cassidy. “My fire inside is reignited. I’m pumped for the future and we are enjoying playing the new songs and witnessing first-hand the impact it’s having on everyone at our live shows. This is by far, the broadest collection of songs I have ever recorded; there is something for everyone on this record.”
Jason has shared the stage with many other established artists such as: Aaron Lewis, Tracy Byrd, Easton Corbin, Steve Wariner, The Band Perry, Josh Thompson, Montgomery Gentry, Joe Nichols, Tracy Lawrence, Eli Young Band, The Bellamy Brothers, Kevin Fowler, Aaron Watson, Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, and many more.
Saturday, October 13 – Demontrond Stage
Hannah Kay is a Texas-born and bred torch-bearer for traditional country music. Her voice and writings are rooted in the soil of early Nashville making her a standout in the growing population of young country singer songwriters. At the ripe ol’ age of 8 she penned her first song, and by 10 had graced the studio to capture her first professional recordings. In the following years, Hannah would be mentored by Grammy-winning producers and songwriters.
She began traveling to Nashville and became a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, collaborating with numerous A-list songwriters. Her talent got her into rooms with Shane Stevens (Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum), Jerry Flowers (Sam Hunt, Keith Urban), and Catt Gravitt (Rascall Flatts, Kelly Clarkson), among others. On her newly released EP “Magnolia to Nashville”, Hannah displays sass on “I Hate Boys” and “You’re Gonna Need Jesus”, substantive soul on “Cuz It Ain’t” and “I’m Gonna” and a lighthearted, boy-attracting fun side on “Magnetic”.
Hannah Kay has performed live on KHOU’s Houston Life and shared the stage with many incredible artists including: Andy Griggs, Jon Wolfe, Tracy Byrd, Shenandoah, Rick Trevino, Scooter Brown Band, Jason Cassidy, Jody Booth, and many others. On October 25th 2017, Hannah Kay was officially named the 2018 “Female Artist of the Year” by CMA of Texas.