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The band arrives at Las Palmas Race Park in Mission for a performance next Wednesday, June 26, with gates opening at 7 p.m.
Lubbock-based Josh Abbott was in a grad school program at Texas Tech in Lubbock when his path made a drastic turn and passion turned into dream career. He had picked up the guitar a few years earlier to strum along with his favorite country artists' songs, but the vision for his new career path came into focus in 2004 at a Randy Rogers concert when the desire hit to begin writing and playing his own music.
The band cut their first demo, "Taste," in 2007 and started touring outside of Lubbock in 2008 when they got their booking agent. That's when their rising star status took off—faster than they expected.
"We'd start showing up at venues and there'd be a lot of people there, and we didn't even have enough originals to play 90 minutes. And it was kind of a weird deal for us because there were a lot of bands on the scene that were a lot more tenured, and they went from not even knowing who we were to all of a sudden playing these co-bills with us within like a two-year span," he said, but noted they had paid their dues even though it came together faster than anticipated.
Their concert audiences, which barely drew 100 paid customers in the beginning, have turned into sold-out crowds at well-known, super-sized venues like Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth with 6,000 tickets sold.
In 2009 the band recorded their first album, "Scapegoat," and "She's Like Texas" followed in 2010 which made the Top Country Albums chart and then placed on the Country Songs charts in 2011. Their latest CD, "Small Town Family Dream," was released in 2012.
Abbott, leading the band with vocals and acoustic guitar, is intent on moving their fan base outside of the southwest to hit the larger markets across the country.
Abbott is joined by Preston Wait on fiddle and electric guitar. Wait, raised in Campo, Colo., began violin lessons at the age of 5 and soon developed a love for bluegrass and joined the family band. He continued to hone his skills with other bands along the way while winning fiddle contests. His skills were refined at South Plains College in Levelland studying commercial music where he won the Country Musician of the Year award in 2007 and was given a scholarship awarded by the faculty to the top country music student enrolled in the program. He joined the Josh Abbott Band full time in 2008.
Along with Wait, drummer and "comic relief" Edward Villanueva came on board with Abbott early in the band's formation. Influenced by his father, a professional drummer, Villanueva began his passion at age 9 and by age 15 was performing professionally with Tejano bands while he studied sound and commercial music at South Plains College.
James Hertless started his career path at age 12 playing bass in his father's band. Carving a name for himself in the Texas country music scene as a bassist and vocalist, he's played for Drew Womack, Kevin Fowler, Gary P. Nunn and Brandon Rhyder. He joined Abbott and company in 2011.
Caleb Keeter on the electric guitar was born in Fayetteville, Ark., but got to Texas as fast as he could—and grew up in Belton. Influenced by the Dave Matthews Band, he picked up the guitar early on, but returned to Arkansas to go to school. It didn't take long for him to realize his true passion was music at an open mic night when he was offered a gig with the house band. After stints with several bands, including Charla Corn, Abbott had come to know Keeter from the different venues they shared. When the band needed a guitarist, they turned to Keeter.
Austin David rounds out the group on banjo. First influenced by the banjo-picking frog, Kermit from the Muppets, by fifth grade the 10-year-old had his first paying gig. The strongest impetus for him to make the banjo his instrument of choice in his high school years was Béla Fleck. His path has allowed him to work alongside names like William Clark Green, Charlie Shafter, Charlie Stout and more. He hooked up with Abbott when he went on to Texas Tech and rushed the same fraternity, and he joined the band in 2006.
General admission tickets are $28 in advance and $39.50 for reserved tickets online, available at www.lasplamasracepark.com and www.joshabbottband.com; or call 877-435-9849.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.