Josh Abbott Band

Josh Abbott Band (10:00 PM)

The Cadillac Three (8:30 PM)

Rich O'Toole (8:00 PM)

Wed, August 6, 2014

7:30 pm

Adv Tix $17.00 / Day of Show Tix $20.00

This event is all ages

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Josh Abbott Band - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
Josh Abbott Band
When Josh Abbott Band recorded “Ghosts” for its fourth album, Front Row Seat, Abbott expected to redo the vocals. The final chorus had some technical imperfections, and he figured he could improve on the performance once his heart settled down. Producer Dwight Baker, one-half of the Austin-based duo The Wind and The Wave, wouldn’t let Abbott retouch it.

“I was actually crying my eyes out during that last chorus, and that’s why there’s a couple of notes in the beginning of that section that don’t really explode like normal,” Abbott says. “Dwight was like, ‘We’re keeping that. That’s real.’”

Real is the operative word for Front Row Seat, a 16-track song cycle that represents the most ambitious and emotionally challenging project yet for JAB, a highly melodic six-piece ensemble that’s managed to keep a foot in both the Texas music scene and the national country world. The band won four times during the inaugural Texas Regional Radio Awards behind an upbeat brand of country that still leans on classic instrumentation – particularly banjo and fiddle – to effect a raucous, roof-raising attitude.

The band has lobbed three singles onto the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart – including “Oh, Tonight,” the first charted track to feature Grammy-winning Kacey Musgraves – and nabbed a Top 10 album with the 2012 release Small Town Family Dreams and reached No. 12 with the 2014 EP Tuesday Night.

But Front Row Seat steps beyond the band’s honky-tonk inclinations for a more personal journey as the album traverses the emotional course of Abbott’s first marriage and subsequent divorce. It was not his original intention to depict his private life in a public way, but as he wrote the songs for Front Row Seat, beginning before the split actually occurred, he naturally mined his emotional life for a set of songs that were profoundly honest and revealing. It was only as they began recording the material at Baker’s Matchbox Studios outside of Austin, that they realized they had the germ of a tangible plot.

“We started looking at the music we’d done and had a whole bunch of other songs that we really loved and we were like, ‘Man, we could put this together and make a really neat story out of it,” fiddler Preston Wait recalls. “Especially with the song ‘Front Row Seat,’ we basically just made it kind of like you’re watching a movie and it’s your front row seat to this life.”

Owing to that silver-screen character, JAB employed screenwriting technique by assembling the project with the five elements of plot structure: the exposition, or beginning; an inciting incident; the climax; a falling action (in this case, a breakup); and the resolution.

The story begins with “While I’m Young,” in which a college-aged Abbott lives a typically carefree existence, spending much of his discretionary income in bars and living for the moment, an ideal that’s captured authoritatively in the anthemic “Live It While You Got It.” As the album progresses, he meets a woman who commands his attention for more than one evening, finding himself by track 7, “Crazy Things,” mulling what it is that would make a woman who’s dang-near perfect fall for someone so flawed.

By the time the album concludes, his once-ideal relationship has turned sour, and the two are no longer one. The fracture becomes apparent through the resignation of “Born To Break Your Heart,” and he discovers in “Ghosts” that all the memories that once lived with such passion and revelry continue to haunt his memory, taunting him with whispers of a past he can never reclaim. As Front Row Seat closes with “Anonymity,” Abbott sings a spare dirge with acoustic guitar and fiddle, fantasizing that he could return to the start of the relationship and live it out right.

“When you’re moving on from somebody, even once you’ve accepted it, you just feel alone,” Abbott observes. “That’s the reason the acoustic track ends the album.”

Even though Front Row Seat represents an ode to a failed relationship, it also marks what Abbott expects to be the beginning of a new phase for JAB. One of Texas’ best party bands, the group evolved heavily in the process of making the album. The players fully committed to a darker sound and gave even more prominence to Wait’s fiddle and Austin Davis’ banjo, highlighting the trad-country elements in the lineup while still infusing the influence of multiple genres in its sonic drama.

“When you get to the end of this album, you see a band that grew up before your eyes – like literally front to back, a band that sonically changed,” Abbott says. “You never want to make the same album multiple times, and you never want to sound the same your entire career. You know, you look at The Beatles and you look at all these other great bands, they tweaked their sound over time, and I think you’re gonna start to see us do that a little bit more.”

While JAB is truly a group, the name is centered on Abbott – the lead singer, primary songwriter and band namesake – with good reason. He is a determined force of nature, and his ability to lead – to, in essence, turn something small into something much bigger – has been a hallmark of the band since its inception.

That start came in the mid-2000s when Abbott and frat brother Davis showed up for a few informal gigs at the Blue Light Live in Lubbock, Texas.

“We played two open-mic nights, and we had two songs, no band. Just him and me,” Davis recalls. “I walk in the back, and Josh is talking to the owner and the manager about doing a live record there. And I’m thinking, ‘We don’t even have a band.’ His thing was, ‘We’ll get to that later.’ He’s always thought that way. I’ve played in other bands but never saw anybody else with that kind of confidence.”

Wait and drummer Edward Villanueva showed up a year and a half later, and in short time, JAB’s first single – “Taste,” self-released on Pretty Damn Tough Records – found a home on Texas radio stations. Bass player James Hertless and lead guitarist Caleb Keeter came on board circa 2010, and the lineup has stabilized for the past five years.

“Any movie you see about a band, it’s like five or six kids that are best friends,” Wait says. “Growing up, that’s kind of what you think it’s gonna be like. I found that in this group.”

The friendship is built on constant touring. Texas alone keeps the band steadily employed, but Abbott and crew have built a wider concert base that includes such iconic venues as Nashville’s Exit/In, Chicago’s Joe’s Bar, Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club, Denver’s Grizzly Rose and Los Angeles’ Troubadour. The audience has grown in part because of the singability and relatability of the Abbott Band’s material, which has always held something of an everyman appeal.

As personal as Front Row Seat is, the album has a ring of familiarity. Nearly everyone has messed up a relationship or had their heart broken. It’s practically a rite of passage, and Abbott’s willingness to tear down the walls and bare his heart lifts the project to a new level of connection with the band’s growing audience.

“I know there’s going to be a natural reflection on me and how the album mirrors my life,” Abbott concedes. “But I’d like to think that this is really a story that is so common that everyone relates to it and that it’s not just about me. Hopefully people can listen to it and feel like it’s about them.”

It’s about the band, too. Villanueva used a bigger drum kit in recording Front Row Seat, laying a little more power underneath. And Wait and Davis take a more prominent role in the sound, heightening the country and bluegrass sides of the group without harming its modern texture.

“When we come up with parts, it’s difficult because it’s not standard bluegrass, like Flatt & Scruggs,” says Davis. “You’ve got to do something different. It pushes you to try and make something new.”

There’s certainly plenty new in Front Row Seat for Josh Abbott Band. The ethereal lyrics in “Autumn” and “Anonymity” are a starting place as Abbott’s songwriting challenges country’s tendency toward literal interpretations and storylines. The band also works for the first time with Carly Pearce, who provides a powerhouse female presence on “Wasn’t That Drunk.” Assembling the project as a concept album with a distinct storyline is another new approach for JAB. The tormented lead single, “Amnesia” – with its snarling guitar solo and artsy, unsettling intro – is yet another new technique.

Those wrinkles in JAB’s development demonstrate the band’s willingness to explore new turf, tapping musical character that might have gone unexpressed in its earlier projects. But people don’t build character during the easy times. It comes when they’re tested by the hurts and pitfalls that accompany any successfully lived life. Abbott, as the leader of the band, is emerging from one of his toughest tests to date. He and the band used an ultra-honest approach to the hard times to take the next step as it moves into its future.

“The whole band embraced this project and really committed to not only make it sound incredible but sound different and better,” Abbott says. “It’s more mature than anything we’ve done in the past.”

More mature because it’s so honest. And so real.
The Cadillac Three - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
The Cadillac Three
It may be a ballsy move for The Cadillac Three to name their new album LEGACY, but if any country band has
the shared history to lay claim to such a weighty title, it's the longhaired trio of Nashville natives.
Singer-guitarist Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason and lap-steel player Kelby Ray have known one another
since they were teens and have been sharing stages together for nearly 15 years. This summer, they'll headline
their hometown's most famous venue, the Ryman Auditorium, just a few blocks from where Johnston and Ray
sat in high-school math class daydreaming about one day playing the legendary hall. Johnston's connection to
the Ryman goes back even further: his father has been a drummer at the Grand Ole Opry since Jaren was a
child. And now he has a son of his own, who, like his old man, will be well-versed in all the sounds that make up
both Music City and The Cadillac Three, from country and blues to rock & roll.
So, yeah, "legacy" looks good on this band.
"We're trying to build something and do it our way, which is always harder," says Johnston. "If you're going to
leave something that people are actually going to remember, you can't take the easy way. So we took all of our
history, mixed it with the energy of The Cadillac Three and put it into a record that makes sense of where we've
been and where we're going."
After nearly a full year on the road in support of 2016's BURY ME IN MY BOOTS, their first full-length album
recorded for Big Machine Records, the group returns with a more mature perspective. Johnston, Mason and Ray
have experienced a lot on tour, whether opening arenas across the country on Florida Georgia Line's Dig Your
Roots Tour or headlining their own consistently sold-out string of sweaty club and theater shows in the U.K. and
Europe. As they prepare to head back in November for another big run, for The Cadillac Three, the old saying
really is true: this band is huge overseas.
"Europe showed us that we should bet on ourselves. It was a big gamble the first time we went over there," says
Mason, "but the shows and the fans have continued to grow."
"And going overseas reinforced that we wanted to get more music out more quickly," adds Ray. "They go through
singles really quickly over there. They want more, more, more and that encouraged us to go into the studio,
knock this album out and keep going."
All that travel, from city to state, country to continent, could decimate a lesser band, but it only served to
creatively inspire the mighty TC3. They wrote many of the 11 songs that make up LEGACY on the road, cut the
tracks on rare days off in Nashville and then recorded all of Johnston's vocals – one of the most "country" voices
in the genre – in the back lounge of their bus in between shows, adding a crackling sense of vitality to LEGACY.
They also produced the album themselves.
"We knew what we wanted to do with this record. Instead of putting it together in bits and pieces, we started with
a batch of songs and then picked a single," Johnston says. "That's how this shit should be done."
That back-to-basics approach to making music yielded the band's most infectious single to date: the woozy sing-
along "Dang If We Didn't." Written, as is most of the album, by Johnston and Mason (here, with Jonathan
Singleton; other times with songwriters like Laura Veltz and Angelo Petraglia), "Dang If We Didn't" teases fans
with its ambiguous title, before revealing what the guys actually did in the chorus: get drunk last night.
"When you're a songwriter, you can be critical of song titles," says Johnston. "But with 'Dang If We Didn't,' I
thought it was a little bit mysterious. It makes you wonder, 'Dang if we didn't do what?'"
"Eat pizza last night," quips Mason. "It could be anything."
"American Slang" rivals "Dang If We Didn't" in its grandeur. It's a huge song, akin to Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" or
The Cadillac Three's own "Graffiti," off BURY ME IN MY BOOTS. Lori McKenna (Little Big Town's "Girl Crush")
began writing the tune with the intention of having The Cadillac Three finish it. "We are vampires on Hollywood


Boulevard / angels and sinners of our hometown streets," go the lyrics, painting a picture of life's rebels, before a
massive country-radio chorus kicks in: "We are the back roads, dirty water shore banks…we are born and raised
on American slang."
The constant throughout LEGACY, however, lies in the players: as on all three of The Cadillac Three's albums,
only Johnston, Mason and Ray are the musicians. There's no guest keyboard player, no second percussionist
and certainly no bassist. Ray holds down the low end on his lap steel.
Especially on the standout LEGACY track "Take Me to the Bottom," which features Johnston reaching high for a
breathtaking falsetto. "'Take Me to the Bottom' has the best bass sound of anything I've ever done," says Ray,
who also keeps things greasy on the intense "Tennessee." A thrashing love song, it evokes the stomp of ZZ Top
– a favorite of TC3 – and features a lyrical shout-out to progressive country hero Sturgill Simpson, a kindred spirit
of the band.
No matter the influence, though, the trio stays faithful to their own unique sound throughout LEGACY. "Hank &
Jesus" glides along with Tennessee twang; "Demolition Man" is distinguished by the space between the notes;
and the swaggering "Cadillacin'" is a band anthem. "We don't put anything on our albums that we can't re-create
live," says Mason. "If there is a TC3 rule, it's that: keep it honest."
Honesty, or authenticity, is a favorite buzzword around Nashville. But few artists come to it as naturally as The
Cadillac Three. These guys couldn't fake it if they tried. In the album's title track, they offer a heart-on-the-sleeve
testimony to what's really important at the end of one's days: love and a family tree.
When Mason and Ray heard "Legacy," co-written by Johnston, they flipped, and pushed for it to be the title of the
record. "We're far enough along in our careers where doing an album called LEGACY doesn't feel presumptuous
to me," says Mason.
Not when you run through The Cadillac Three's milestones. It's all there, from boundary-pushing albums,
Grammy-nominated No. 1 songwriting across genres and fan-favorite singles to sold-out club shows and massive
festival gigs alongside Aerosmith.
"With this album, we're continuing to build this thing we've created. We're touring nonstop, headlining shows in
the U.K., playing the Ryman, and putting out a new record," says Johnston. "Shit, that's a pretty good legacy so
far."
Rich O'Toole - (Set time: 8:00 PM)
Rich O'Toole
Who is Rich O’Toole? Rich cannot be defined or put into a box. Is he a country artist? Yes. Is he an independent artist? Yes. Does he make music for everyone? Yes. Rich has a passion to make music for the masses whether a person loves country, rock or rap. He wants to appeal to all. Make no mistake, Rich O’Toole is an artist that draws you in with his dynamic, sultry voice, every guitar lick and the rich, passion of his voice, not to mention the daring lyrics that ring so true, that leave the listener in awe. So is the case, with his PTO Records manifesto, BrightWork, in stores February 19th. Rich has redefined his own music and wants to be known as an artist, not as an artist in a specific regional genre. “I want to play music I believe in without being labeled. Don’t put a name on it. Work hard and work for your fans.”

BrightWork is Rich’s manifesto touting his music business experiences over the last few years and his musical influences including a cover of “Dancing In The Dark” by his musical idol Bruce Springsteen. “Bruce Springsteen is the reason I love music. I cover his music in my live show and “Dancing in the Dark” is by far my favorite song. I am glad I was finally able to cover a song by him on my CD.” “Drunk Girl,” Rich’s recent top 5 smash, written by Jeffrey Steele, Danny Myrick and Bart Allmand, caught a little flack by industry folk for some of the lyrical content, yet fans happily recite the song back to him in concert and download the tune to this day. Being in charge of his own label allows Rich to generously donate all the sales for the love lost song “Last Summer”, to its writer Alan Goodman, a musician from the Austin area, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. “Most musicians and songwriters do not have health insurance, which is the case with Allan. I hope the proceeds from the sales of “Last Summer” will help with some of the mounting bills that are to come for his treatment.”

Rich penned five songs on BrightWork including the song “January 21st” which speaks of the day his heart was broken, “Meet Me in Chicago,” “Miss Wherever You Are,” the next big party anthem, “Summertime Girls,” and the sweet, declarative ditty “I Love You.”

The pleasing sound of Rich’s voice explodes in the ballad and Rich’s current single “Messin’ Around” written by notable songwriters Trent Summar and Jaron Boyer as well as former NFL football player Kerry Collins. The viral video for the song features model Caitlin Hixx and actor Kasey James and captures the dynamism passion of the song that takes you on a story-telling journey you will want to experience over and over.

Rich hails from Houston and began his music career while attending Texas A&M at the legendary bars surrounding the campus.

Rich displays an energetic take on-stage that is aurally present in the record. Rich has accumulated a die-hard and dedicated fan base over his years of touring who can sing every word to each song on the night’s set list. Night after night, he offers audiences an energetic and intimate performance that could only be described as “Bruce Springsteen meets Country Music” and if you ask him what it is that fuels these performances and his recent success, he’ll reply with one word: passion. “If I didn’t love playing city after city so much, I wouldn’t do it,” O’Toole says.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change