Catching Up With Del Gray Of Little Texas

Del Gray Little Texas

Every country fan who hasn’t lived under a rock the past 30 years knows the song “God Blessed Texas” by Little Texas. Their other songs that have really stuck with me over the years are “What Might Have Been” and “Amy’s Back In Austin.” I also really love “You And Forever And Me.” For some reason that song always makes me think of the start of spring. So I am excited to finally get to see them tonight in Liberty, NC [concert info at the end of this interview]. Won’t you join me?

Catching Up With Del Gray Of Little Texas

Eat Play Rock: This weekend you’re playing in Liberty [NC] and you guys are also playing in the Everglades, right?

Del Gray: We are. It’s a last minute gig that came up. We did that gig a few years ago and I guess somebody fell out. And the promoter called to see if we could do it so we’re, we’re headed there as well.

Eat Play Rock: Nice. That’s a lot of traveling in one weekend, but I guess you guys are used to it.

Del Gray: Oh yeah. Well we are and we have two bus drivers so we can run continuously.

Eat Play Rock: That’s good. I read that, when you guys were first becoming really popular that you played like 300 plus shows a year. And you didn’t always have the best driver. Is that true?

Del Gray: Well, by the time we started doing that many shows we did but, you know, the van and trailer days, we played everywhere from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, all the way up to Phoenix Arizona and every place in between. The year that our first single “Some Guys” was released, we actually played 319 dates and continued that pace for the next five, six years. I mean we would do anywhere from 250 to 300 days a year so we worked it hard. But you know what’s nice about that is it really sets up for what we do now. I mean we kind of laid a lot of groundwork and and built some great relationships. And I tell people I get to be a rock star on the weekends and I’m home with my family during the week because we do about 70 to 75 dates a year. So it’s basically weekend work, which is fun.

Eat Play Rock: Yeah, that’s nice. That’s a big change in the amount of shows. Do you ever feel antsy, like you’re not playing enough or are you good with the momentum you guys currently have going?

Del Gray: Not really I mean we play almost every weekend, it’s a little slow in the winter but after after a busy summer we’re kind of ready for some downtime so no, at 31 years into it, that’s a perfect schedule for us.

Eat Play Rock: Shows in general are just slow in the winter. There’s just not a lot going on from anybody really.

Del Gray: You know, we do some theaters but, the bulk of our work is fairs and festivals and we play some casinos. We happen to be kind of moving into the theater year round playing. We’re playing some smaller theaters in the winter and that’s that’s fun. It keeps us working. So we’re excited to get over to North Carolina and play. Back in the 90s the bulk of our record sales was in North Carolina, South Carolina. We played a club called “Cowboys Nightlife.” And there was about three or four those, so we really had a good fan base in the Carolinas.

Del Gray Little Texas

Eat Play Rock: Yeah there’s definitely a lot of fans for Little Texas here. You said that you guys play theaters and fairs and casinos mostly. Do you have to change your set a little bit to cater to the different audiences are they basically the same?

Del Gray: We do. I mean, a festival or, or a fair – it’s a little more rocking. And a theater show… we grew up on Willie and Waylon and Merle. We also grew up listening to KISS and Van Halen and Rush. And so we’re highly influenced by rock and the Eagles were one of our favorite bands. But in a theater setting, its a little tamer. More stories about the songs get told. It’s more intimate.

Eat Play Rock: Speaking of The Eagles. You guys did an awesome version of “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” Do you still play that today?

Del Gray: We do, absolutely. We just put that back in our set a couple of months ago and so, yes, you will hear that, depending on our week. We played a theater this past weekend and our acoustic guitar player, Dwayne O’Brien, sings that song. He was a little under the weather last weekend and was having some vocal trouble so we we didn’t do it. But I’m sure he’ll be all ready to go this weekend when we play.

Eat Play Rock: We definitely hope he feels better. Okay, so you guys broke up for a while. What let you know that it was time to reunite and go back on the road?

Del Gray: Like three or four of us became staff writers and had success with with other artists in the music business. And we would see each other at events and somebody called one day and said, “Hey you want to go rehearse at SIR?” and we kicked into “Amy” and kind of looked around and said “Yep, this sounds like Little Texas.” It was one of those things where I tell people the best thing that ever happened to us, is the fact that we took a break. It gave everyone a chance to grow up and kind of enjoy what we had worked for the 10 years previous. So, when we put it back together it was easy. It was like hey let’s go do this.

Eat Play Rock: I also read that you guys reworked some of your songs since Little Texas has a little different lineup now. Is it true that some of your songs are a little more guitar-centric now? And, if so, how do you think it’s changed the feel of some of the songs?

Del Gray: Well, we’ve always been a guitar driven band but we no longer have a keyboard player. And we kind of love it. It’s great. And it rocks a little harder and it gives Porter a chance to even play more – which he is a fabulous guitar player. So, the band now is four pieces – all original guys – and Porter Howell is our lead singer. He wrote the bulk of the songs, the hits, back in the day, and he was kind of a stunt vocalist anyway.

Eat Play Rock: Well, as far as like the newer sounding music, the keyboard isn’t really an instrument that, in my opinion, has stood the test of time anyway. If you are going to lose an instrument, it’s not the worst thing to lose. The music sounded good back then but the keyboard is not something I think that’s necessary for today.

Del Gray: What’s neat is we just went in and cut 16 new songs, 8 of the hits and then 8 new songs for a 30th anniversary project that we’re working on this year. And, Porter, basically if there was any kind of keyboard part that was prominent in the mix, he was able to do on guitar. So, it’s something that you just don’t miss.

 

Eat Play Rock: So, you guys were on “Star Search.” That’s the first reality music based competition I remember. What do you think about when you see those competitions today and how they compare to “Star Search” back in the day?

Del Gray: I wish everybody well. Fortunately, I’m in a position where I don’t have to watch that. I mean, people say, “Well what do you listen to today?” I search out great music and Americana music and older music. I love some of the girl singers in country. Miranda Lambert is one of my favorites. I’m a fan of Eric Church. But I don’t listen to the radio and I don’t keep up with it. I’m a fan of talk radio. And my radio stays on talk radio.

Eat Play Rock: Besides radio, it’s interesting all the formats you can get music in today. I mean you can download it, even vinyl has made a resurgence. What do you think about the availability of just so many ways to enjoy music today?

Del Gray: What’s neat about that is, that ASCAP, BMI and SESAC are all finally getting a handle on all the different streams. So you would think that a band 30 years into their career, that the royalty checks would be dwindling, and that’s not the case for us. Because of all the different streams, we’ve seen an increase over the last three to five years.

Eat Play Rock: Well, I mean, “God Blessed Texas” is on every other movie you see so you have to be making bank off that one in particular.

Del Gray: Oh yeah!

Catch Little Texas live locally tonight at 7pm at Liberty Showcase Theater and check out the rest of their tour schedule here.

Del Gray Little Texas

Get Social With Little Texas

Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Eli Young Band’s Mike Eli Talks About “Love Ain’t” & “Break It In”

eli young band
Photo Courtesy John Shearer

With megahits like “Love Ain’t,” “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Crazy Girl,” the Eli Young Band is one of the best country acts out today. They have a long track record of producing tunes that are both catchy and relatable, thus garnering the band multiple awards and nominations including Song of the Year and Group of the Year. If you haven’t gotten to catch the Eli Young Band live, you have several chances locally this weekend. Read on to learn about their inspirational “Love Ain’t” video, new single, “Break It In,” and how that particular song applies to both their lives and careers.

Mike Eli Talks “Love Ain’t”

EPR: So first I’m going to ask you about the video for “Love Ain’t” and what was your inspiration? I mean what made you guys decide to cover that subject matter?

Mike Eli: We do a lot of work with the Wounded Warrior [and] we were brainstorming. We wanted to find kind of the ultimate love story because “Love Ain’t” is obviously a song about what love is. We wanted to find that ultimate love story, whatever it might be, whether or not it’s something that we create in a video format. And at the time we were working with the Wounded Warrior Project and talking about what we’re doing with the single and they said, “You know what? Let us let us look around because we may have something.”

So they started streaming us some of the footage of Taylor and Danielle Morris and we were incredibly moved by what we saw and what we were told about them and it kind of just started snowballing after that. It was such a huge opportunity to be able to be a part of telling their story to a lot of people who didn’t necessarily know…a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of these men and women, when they come home from serving their battles, a lot of relationships don’t survive. The Wounded Warrior Project and a lot of organizations out there do their best to help families and circles survive from the war.

EPR: Yeah, they do seem like such a wonderful and dedicated couple and it’s really amazing to see what they’ve been through and how they’re able to, you know, work through that together.

Mike Eli: They are every bit as awesome as you think they are.

eli young band
Photo Courtesy Cal Quinn

Eli Young Band And Their College Days

EPR: Well, okay, so to switch subjects, you guys started as a college band, is that correct?

Mike Eli: That is right. We started the band in North Texas, back in the day. In the beginning we were, obviously this was a hobby and really an outlet for us to be able to make music while we were getting our degrees and it turned out that we were able to continue.

EPR: So did you all meet in college because I know that two of you did for sure but was that the case for all of the band members?

Mike Eli: Actually yes. So James and I ran into Jon and then Chris which is part of the story. The other three guys had met prior to that, and had kind of started jamming and making music together before we started the band. and I started college ’99 and they had been jamming together and I said, “Hey man, I sing. Maybe I can join in.”

So James and I had started writing music, a few songs, and so we started kind of playing acoustic at some of the local places in Denton [Texas] where we started the band and it was working until October of 2000 when the other two guys jumped on stage with us and they played about four songs, and it all snowballed from there. ‘

Mike Eli On “Break It In”

EPR: That’s really cool that kind of fate brought you guys together like that. A lot of groups can’t stay together that long because they just can’t get along. Being that y’all met in college and have been through a lot together, can you tell me how that applies to your single “Break It In?”

Mike Eli: Yeah, I mean, I think that “Break It In”, is one of those songs that is an incredibly appropriate song for where we’re at in our lives and our career. We feel like we’re kind of just drinking this thing in. You know, I think over time, we’ve figured things out and we’ve become better musicians, better performers and better entertainers and we kind of feel like we’re hitting our stride 20 years later. And there’s not an awful lot of bands that can can feel that way as far as being the same four dudes making making music together.

On The Road & Time Off For Christmas

EPR: Will you get to take any time off for Christmas?

Mike Eli: We will. Yeah. This is our last weekend and we’re ready to play our show in Charlotte and then we are off for about a month.

EPR: That’s great any big plans?

eli young band
Photo Courtesy Cal Quinn

Mike Eli: Yeah! A whole lotta Christmas and some traveling and family and those things that we’ve been neglecting too much over the first of the year. So we’ll be playing some catch up will be a lot of with that. That will be a lot of what that month is all about.

EPR: You already mentioned the show in Charlotte. But you also have a show in Greensboro this week. Do you want to tell me about your shows and what people can expect to see?

Mike Eli: Obviously, the show, will be revolved around the hits, but we play a lot of those old songs that maybe just the fans who have been with us a long time will know. will find that maybe you know. So, it won’t just be the radio hits. It will be a lot of the stuff that the hardcore fans that have been with us and supporting us for a long time will know.

It’s an old school rock’n’roll show. We’re a band that’s very rooted in old school rock and roll and I think that when people come to our show, that’s what they see. You know, we’re just getting up there and turning our amps up and having a good time. And we really feel like that we’ve hit our stride and the shows have just been a ton of fun and and hopefully people come out to just have a really good time.

Catch the Eli Young Band TONIGHT at Cone Denim Entertainment Complex in Greensboro, TOMORROW NIGHT at The Fillmore Charlotte and at House Of Blues in Myrtle Beach on SATURDAY. Check out the rest of their touring schedule here.

Get Social With The Eli Young Band

Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

Ray Scott On The Rise Of Independent Artists Finding Success Through Social Media & Satellite Radio

Ray Scott On The Rise Of Independent Artists Finding Success Through Social Media & Satellite Radio

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Catching Up With Kasey Tyndall At Carolina Country Music Fest #CCMF2018

Catching Up With Kasey Tyndall At Carolina Country Music Fest #CCMF2018

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Horrible Celebrity Interviews: When Interviewers Act Unprofessionally

Horrible Celebrity Interviews: When Interviewers Act Unprofessionally

I have interviewed a few people in my day. Aside from a 2 year hiatus, I have worked in radio for 10 years and interviewed several artists on air including Little Big Town, Ty Herndon and T.G. Sheppard. I have also interviewed several people {for Examiner and my other blog} including Matt Paxton {Hoarders} and the Kentucky Headhunters. You can also check out my interview section on this blog to find interviews with Sister Hazel, Aaron Tippin, Dom McManus, Jackie Collins and more. So, I think I know a thing or two about how an interview should ideally go. Just like everything, there is a way to do something and a way to not do something. So, here are some examples of horrible celebrity interviews.
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Swoosie Kurtz on Mike and Molly - Image Credit TVGuide.com

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A Chat With The Hardest Working Man In Country Music: Aaron Tippin

Aaron Tippin Interview ~

Aaron Tippin

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A Chat With Sister Hazel’s Mark Trojanowski

Sister Hazel ~

Sister Hazel talks to Eat Play Rock about Hazelnut Hang, Rock Boat XIV, touring and more

With catchy and meaningful tunes like “All For You,” “Change Your Mind” and my personal favorites, “Champagne High,” “Your Winter” and “Thank You,” Sister Hazel has been cranking out tunes to a very receptive fan base {with diehards known as the Hazelnuts}. You should see how many Twitter followers they have! Their unique blend of pop, folk, Americana and country sounds and accessibility to fans has helped to secure Sister Hazel’s longevity in a changing musical landscape that has lasted since the mid 90s. Eat Play Rock got the change to talk to Mark Trojanowski, the band’s drummer, to see what Sister Hazel has been up to.

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Black Sabbath’s Founding Drummer Bill Ward Talks Art @billwarddrums

Bill Ward from Black Sabbath ~

Bill Ward Talks Art Collection and Black Sabbath | Eat Play Rock

Even if you are not a heavy metal fan, you’ve heard of Black Sabbath. Their iconic song, “Iron Man”, can be heard blasting at just about every high school and college football game in the country. With metal standards such as “War Pigs”, “Changes” and “Paranoid”, Black Sabbath is without a doubt the kings of heavy metal and have been doing there thing for over 40 years now. For the majority of those years, one man has been the back beat and rhythm of the band, drummer Bill Ward. Ward was the Black Sabbath’s original drummer and has been with the band for the majority of their recording career. Even after Ozzy Osbourne’s departure and Ronnie James Dio’s initial hiring, Bill Ward was still there.

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