The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


February 14, 2014

Loaded lyrics: Josh Abbott Band brings meaning-filled music to Miami

MIAMI, Okla. — Maybe it's just some eager music video directors, but there's a lot of epic stories behind the songs of the Josh Abbott Band.

The video for "Touch" gives subtext to the relationship between a woman and killed-in-action soldier she loves. And the video for "She Will Be Free" is an 11-minute mini-movie that depicts the horrors of human trafficking.

Those extra layers are partly intentional, Abbott said in his official bio. Almost each song on his latest album, 2012's "Small Town Family Dream," has a bigger meaning or dedication attached to it.  

"Dallas, Houstion, Austin and San Antonio, they are all great, " Abbott said in the bio. "But the backbone of what makes Texas really Texas is the rural communities. The farmers, ranchers and all the other poeple who work their asses off while living in small towns all across the state, this whole album is really an ode to them, and I really wanted that theme to come through in the songs."

Abbott and his band will perform that music in concert tonight at Buffalo Run Casino. The Texas country band has released three self-produced albums under Abbott's label, Pretty Damn Tough.

"Idalou" is a hometown salute. Firefighters and wildfire victims are championed in "Hell's Gates on Fire." Texas farmers fighting a drought are canonized in "Rain Finally Coming Down."

And though the lyrics of "She Will Be Free" are generic, they have been attached to efforts to assist the International Justice Mission fight human trafficking across the world.

The band got its start in 2006 while attending Texas Tech University Ñ Abbott and some fraternity brothers started up a band. Just a thesis away from earning his master's degree, he left the university to start a band full time. After some EPs, the band released "Scapegoat," its first full-length album.

"Small Town Family Dream" is the band's third album; "She's Like Texas" was released in 2010.

At the heart of the band's music is Texas country, a fine line of demarcation between the Nashville country scene and the Texas country legends who influenced Abbott, including Pat Green.

Abbott said the band is focused on playing smaller places, such as the Texas nightspots where it cut its teeth. Though the band has received offers from outside record labels, he said he's content with running his own and that the indie label lets them make music and connect with fans.

"I'm not turning a blind eye to them," Abbot said in the bio. "But if we ever sign one, it's going to have to be a really good deal and one that makes sense for us. People who sign with record labels shouldn't be crucified. There's a real science to it, and I have a lot of admiration for the guys that have made the system work for them."

The band's touring plans include an expansion of concerts in the Southwest and Midwest, including New Mexico, the West Coast, Chicago and more.


Want to go?

The Josh Abbott Band will perform tonight at Buffalo Run Casino. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $25, $30 for early entrance.

Details: 918-542-7140, ext. 2200.

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