POSTED ON FEBRUARY 9, 2011:
Eli Young Band continues to grow on heavy touring and an upcoming new single, 'Crazy Girl'
Young Men. Texas boot-stompers and Tulsa favorite Eli Young Band fuses pop, rock and country and returns to the Cainís Ballroom with new songs from its forthcoming album.
When Texas country act Eli Young Band made its now annual stop in Tulsa at the end of January last year, it was a weekend to remember. The band had booked back-to-back nights at Cain's Ballroom and was on its way to town when the snow and ice hit.
True to its road warrior form, the group made it to Tulsa in time for the show, but due to weather conditions, made a last minute change in plans out of concern for their fans' safety.
For those who had already traveled in from out of town and were hell-bent on making it to the concert, the show would go on. For fans who were already in town or those willing to wait it out, however, an additional make-up show was staged earlier that day as a matinee performance. In all, the band played three shows in two nights without blinking an eye. It's all part of the job and the Eli Young Band's way of reward its audience's loyalty.
In reflecting last year and looking forward to Saturday's show at the Cain's, drummer Chris Thompson remembered it clearly.
"The earlier show was probably the youngest audience we've played to, which made it a different experience, but it felt like it had a higher level of excitement," he said.
That seems to be the story of the past two years for Eli Young Band. After 10 years together, things have been snowballing ever since the release of Jet Black and Jealous in late 2008. Radio airplay, videos on CMT and GAC and larger and larger crowds have been the standard, especially in Tulsa where the band headlined a concert at the Expo Square Pavilion after a rodeo in early October.
"We were told right before we went on that it was sold out," Thompson said, "The crowd was amazing. Going into it, we didn't know how it would turn out because we were so used to playing Cain's Ballroom, but it worked out great."
Amongst the highlights of the past year on the road were tours with Gary Allen and Jack Ingram and the band's inclusion on the Country Throwdown Tour: a traveling showcase of the hottest modern country artists, organized by the people who organize the Vans Warped Tour, which placde Eli Young Band alongside other rising acts like Jamey Johnson, Jack Ingram, Eric Church and Little Big Town. Another standout moment was the Eli Young Band's slot opening for Dave Matthews when he played the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, a show that Thompson said was overwhelmingly positive for the group.
"The average Dave Matthews crowd is mostly fans of music in general. If you play well they will usually be pretty accepting," he said. "It went well and was a great experience for us."
Even amidst the heavy touring and high profile shows, however, one of the year's signature events -- and a huge indicator of the quartet's growing popularity -- didn't even occur on the road. This past fall, the Eli Young Band did a promotion with a Cox network radio station in Houston as part of its fall tour. Directed at high school students, the promotion called for fans to upload and submit a video of them doing the best cheer, with one entry being picked to win an acoustic performance by the band at the school.
"It was crazy," Thompson said with a laugh. "When they opened the website for submissions, they got so many it crashed their network nationwide. We thought the response would be good, but we never imagined that would happen. I've got a great story for my grandkids when I get older, though."
Although the past two years have seen the band's buzz grow immensely, that doesn't mean the members haven't kept one eye on the future. The group has already been in the studio recording a follow up album and Thompson shared that the first single, "Crazy Girl," is set to debut in mid-March, with plans for the album to be released in early summer.
The song has already become a fan favorite after appearing in the band's set list over the past year. A mid-tempo ballad in a similar vein to the band's previous hits "When It Rains" and "Always the Love Songs," the single is expected to storm the country single charts and pave the ways for a strong debut when the album is released.
Thompson said Tulsa fans will get a preview of the new material at Saturday's show.
"You'll hear 'Crazy Girl' for sure and a couple others. We actually debuted two new songs at Cain's when we played there last winter," he said.
Thompson said he's looking forward to hearing 2 Steps Back, the Lenepah, Oklahoma act that graced Urban Tulsa Weekly's cover in November, which is also opening Saturday's show.
"We haven't got to play with them yet, but we've got a couple of shows planned with them, so we're looking forward to it," he said.
When it comes to Texas bands, Eli Young Band is a standout. Although the group obviously has some country influences and has been embraced by country radio, it's just as influenced by rock and pop, and the musicians have no problem incorporating such elements into their live show.
"We just do what comes naturally, instead of trying to be something we're not, and I think the fans appreciate that," Thompson said.
If the past few years are any indication, the Eli Young Band will only continue to grow. While the quartet's popularity has grown nationally, the band has also become a favorite here in Tulsa as well.
Saturday's show starts at 8:30p.m.; doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $33. For more information, visit eiyoungband.com.
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