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Tickets to The Bluestone
Eli Young Band
September 8, 2022 at 7 PM
at The Bluestone
by Mark Deming
Fusing a young man’s take on heartland rock with the tougher side of Texas country music and the cocky enthusiasm of alt-country firebrands, the Eli Young Band have become a potent draw in the Southwest on the strength of local airplay and extensive touring. The Eli Young Band’s story began when Mike Eli and James Young both enrolled at the University of North Texas and found themselves sharing a dorm room as freshmen. Both played guitar, and the two new friends started writing and singing songs together. Under the name Eli & Young, they began playing acoustic shows at local bars and coffee houses, and in time they expanded the band into a full electric quartet with the addition of fellow students Jon Jones on bass and Chris Thompson on drums, thus giving rise to the Eli Young Band.
The group became a potent local draw, and in 2003 opened a show for rising star Miranda Lambert. Producer Frank Liddell saw the show and was impressed enough to offer the band a deal with his independent label, Carnival Recording Co. The Eli Young Band’s debut album, Level, appeared in 2005, and the songs “That’s the Way” and “When It Rains” began scoring significant airplay in the Lone Star State. The Eli Young Band’s enthusiastic live show helped them draw a large and loyal audience in the Southwest, where they were able to fill 2,000-seat venues as a headliner, and they toured the country as an opener for the likes of Pat Green, Cross Canadian Ragweed, and Jack Ingram.
In 2006, the group’s live show was captured for posterity on the concert recording Live at the Jolly Fox, taped during a gig at a club in Huntsville, Texas. The Eli Young Band then landed a deal with the Universal-distributed Republic Records; a video for a new recording of “When It Rains” subsequently received extensive play on Country Music Television, and the group’s first album for Republic, Jet Black & Jealous, was released September 2008, with “When It Rains” and two other songs from the album, “Always the Love Songs” and “Radio Waves,” becoming Top 40 hits.
The follow-up album, Life at Best, delivered another hit, the Liz Rose– and Lee Brice-penned “Crazy Girl.” The album was well-received by fans and critics alike, and the following year the Eli Young Band were nominated for a host of awards, including a clutch of Academy of Country Music Awards where they took home the Song of the Year accolade for “Crazy Girl.” They were also up for Grammys for Best Duo/Group Performance and Best Country Song. They soon returned to the studio to record sessions for their fifth album, and in 2013 the fruits of their labor appeared in the shape of the “Drunk Last Night” single, which raced to number one in the U.S. Country Airplay chart. Building on this success, they headed out on tour before announcing that 10,000 Towns was set to be released in 2014; it was preceded by the second single “Dust.” An EP called Turn It On was released in the spring of 2015. For 2017’s Fingerprints, the Eli Young Band signed with the Big Machine subsidiary Valory; the record entered the Billboard country charts at 17.
In March 2019, Big Machine released the compilation This Is Eli Young Band: Greatest Hits.
September 15, 2022 7 PM
at The Bluestone
THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY HAS LONG BEEN FILLED WITH ITS SHARE OF CHARACTERS. FROM WILLIE TO HANK AND DOLLY TO WAYLON, EVERY LEGEND STARTS OUT AS JUST ANOTHER ARTIST THAT DOESN’T FIT EASILY INTO SOME PREDETERMINED BOX. AND AS HARD AS COUNTRY MUSIC MAY TRY TO FIT MATT STELL INTO ONE OF THOSE TRIED AND TRUE BOXES, IT’S DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE.
Heck, he’s 6’7.
But more so than the massive physique that helped Stell become a collegiate basketball standout, the Platinum certified singer has proven via the songs he sings and the shows he puts on that he is far too powerful of an artist to ever fit into some sort of singular category. In fact, to describe Stell in a few words would be a complete disservice to the man he is and the artist he looks to become as he releases his new EP Better Than That on October 16.
“If you cut a groove too deep, it’s hard to get out of it,” he remarks with a chuckle. “I’ve never wanted to be some one-dimensional artist, and with this new EP, I think I’m determined to show that there is much more to me than just a guy who can sing a love song.”
Indeed, the Arkansas native comes from a long line of self proclaimed badasses. He can spin a romantic verse as easy as he can rock out an anthem. He can overanalyze a word as easily as he can let the melody ride a lyrical wave. And yes, he gets as much enjoyment out of discovering a hook in the writing room as he does hooking a fish.
“When you step out into that river and the salmon are still swimming upstream like they have for thousands of years, it’s a real cathartic, therapeutic thing for me,” he says of a recent fishing trip to Alaska. “It’s a great reset.”
In everything he does, it’s evident that Stell is reflective and adventurous and funny and pretty damn smart. And if he’s being totally honest with himself, he’s never been one to love a love song.
Yep, you heard that right.
Granted, it was in fact a love song that catapulted Stell to country music success in 2019 via his massive hit “Prayed for You,” a life-changer of a song that spent two weeks at the number one spot. As the only debut single to top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in 2019, and one of NSAI’s “10 Songs We Wish We’d Written,” the hit has gone on to rack up some impressive stats with over 270 million streams, his first RIAA Platinum certification and more than 20 million views of its official music video to date.
But there’s a catch.
“If the only thing you’ve heard is ‘Prayed for You,’ you would have a different idea of who I really am,” Stell explains. “Knowing that you are making music that means something to people is the ultimate compliment, but there is so much more to me.”
A few more of the many facets of Stell are currently on display via his current top 10 and rising single “Everywhere But On,” a song that Stell calls ‘autobiographical’ in the way that it tells the story of a man trying to escape the memories of a long lost love.
“Having two songs on the radio is an incredible thing, but what’s even more incredible is finding your own voice and your own identity,” he says.
Stell showcased a whole bunch of identities in another Better Than That EP standout – “If I Was a Bar.” At a time when some of his fellow artists were perfectly content in simply sitting down with their guitar and playing their songs during the pandemic that Stell lovingly refers to as a ‘damn biological hurricane,’ Stell and his rather relentless work ethic turned out a music video that had him playing thirteen different roles in the span of a 3-plus minute song.
“I threw every stitch of clothing I have ever owned into my truck for that video shoot,” laughs Stell of the somewhat restrictive project. “Sometimes creativity benefits from constraints.”
Yet, there were few constraints on Stell’s songwriting during the creation of the new Better Than That EP, which was co-produced by Stell alongside Ash Bowers. Via songs co-written by Stell such as “I Love You Too,” “Chase It Down” and the title track “Better Than That,” the listener can still hear Stell’s distinctive way of wrapping a lyric around a memory and the twist he can put on a phrase.
“Songwriting is a craft that can get better the more time you put into it,” remarks Stell, as he laments to himself about how much he hates clichés.
But for the first time in his still evolving career, Stell relied on outside writers on three of the eight tracks of the Better Than That EP in an effort to fill in the blanks of the overall project.
One of those cuts is “Sadie,” a melodic brain-buster of a song that offers ‘a sparse lyric but one in which every word means something.’ Another outside cut is “Look At Me Now,” perhaps one of the most earth-shattering love songs in recent memory. Yes, the guy who says love songs aren’t his thing just might make history with yet another love song.
But before Stell looks too far into the future, he finds his soul planted deeply in the present. He is praying for the day he can plug his amp back in and jump on the bus with his band and play these new songs for a live crowd.
This new chapter in his journey leaves Stell with a whole bunch more ammunition in the writing room and a unique vantage point to view the characters in his songs…and the character he might ultimately turn out to be.
Maddie & Tae October 14, 2022 7 PM
with Sacha & Abbey Cone
Tickets purchased before postponed date are still valid.
Maddie & Tae‘s All Song No Static Tour presented by CMT Next Women of Country is headed to Columbus with special guests Sacha & Abbey Cone.
- Website: www.maddieandtae.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maddieandtae
- Twitter: @MaddieandTae
- Instagram: @maddieandtae
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/MaddieandTae
About Maddie & Tae
Award-winning duo Maddie & Tae are drawing praise for their No. 1 debuting The Way It Feels album release with Rolling Stone saying the new music is “anchored around their stellar vocal pairings and some of the tightest harmonies on Music Row.” Together as longtime friends and music collaborators, Maddie Font and Taylor Kerr co-wrote 14 of the album’s 15 tracks including the Platinum-certified No. 1 country radio hit, “Die From A Broken Heart,” which Esquire calls “their finest moment yet.” The pair also co-wrote two brand new holiday songs to join a collection of classics for their first ever holiday project- We Need Christmas.
Maddie & Tae first broke out in 2013 with their brilliant counter to bro-country, the Platinum-selling smash, “Girl In A Country Song,” which took Country radio by storm, skyrocketing to the top of the charts and quickly going PLATINUM. The duo became only the third female duo in 70 years to top the Country Airplay charts, also earning trophies from the Country Music Academy and Radio Disney Music Awards along with multiple ACM, CMA and CMT Award nominations. Maddie & Tae have received widespread praise from Associated Press, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, The Tennessean, The Washington Post, Glamour and others. The celebrated duo has toured with country music’s hottest stars including Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and more.