The Kenneth Threadgill Concert Series presents Johnny Bush, Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
Johnny Bush, Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
2821 Washington St
Greenville, TX, 75401
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM (event ends at 10:30 PM)
Johnny Bush Shinn III was born on Feb. 17, 1935, in Houston
Bush’s association with [Ray] Price opened doors in Nashville, and he got a job singing demo records for a big-league song publisher. Meanwhile, he played drums in Nelson’s new band, The Record Men, and tried to land a record deal. But label executives thought he sounded too much like Price. So Nelson, primarily known as a songwriter in the 1960s with such songs as Price’s “Night Life,” funded Bush’s first single recording, “Sound of a Heartache,” the title track of his debut album in 1967.
By 1972, Bush’s career was arching up into national prominence thanks to RCA Records, whose Nashville division was headed by the legendary Chet Atkins. Bush’s amazing vocals that soared to operatic levels with a honky-tonk beat led one music critic to dub him the “Country Caruso.”
“Whiskey River,” Bush’s first RCA single, was churning up the charts with airplay across the nation. He was selling out big clubs and was looking forward to a hard-charging tour to support the single.
Since the turn of the millennium, Bush has released a dozen studio albums – “Lost Highway Saloon,” “Johnny Bush Sings Bob Wills,” “Green Snakes,” “Honkytonic,” “Texas State of Mind,” “Devil’s Disciple,” “Texas on a Saturday Night,” “Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston’s Country Soul,” “Lillie’s White Lies,” “Who’ll Buy My Memories,” “Texas Legends: Johnny Rodriguez & Johnny Bush” and “Reflections.”
Bush was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003 along with Kris Kristofferson and Lefty Frizzell, his hero. His life-long compadre Nelson did the honors.
His renewed visibility has made him a mentor to younger Texas artists who were inspired by the honky-tonk/hardcore country sound that Bush does so much to perpetuate. They regularly invite him to share the stage at their shows, presenting Bush with a new generation of fans.
Bush - “In contrast to the powers that be in Nashville, who have either boldly or subtly set out to kill the original roots of country music, in Texas it is our musical birthright and responsibility to keep these sources alive."
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
In regard to the Lone Star State’s finest tunesmiths, Bruce Robison lands at the top of the heap. His songwriting turned the heads of some of the industry’s biggest artists and took them to the top of the charts (Dixie Chicks’ No. 1 version of “Travelin’ Soldier,” George Strait’s recording of “Wrapped” and the beautiful Tim McGraw/Faith Hill rendition of “Angry All The Time,” to name a few). While those achievements might be considered the pinnacle of a song writing career to some, Robison has never been one to rest on his laurels. He is always creating.
The last two releases from Robison were as a duo project with wife and acclaimed singer/songwriter, Kelly Willis. Cheaters Game and Our Year were released just over a year apart in 2013 and 2014, respectively, to rave reviews. With rockabilly roots and a heartache-meets honky-tonk voice, Kelly Willis has been labeled a country ingénue. As a new traditionalist singer/songwriter, her tunes effortlessly combine the storytelling and strings aspects of country music and the driving force of rock. Kelly has a solo project currently in the works, which will tentatively be released early next year.
After touring extensively to support the duo’s releases, Bruce turned his focus toward his other passion project, The Next Waltz, a “virtual social house” of music, videos and interviews spotlighting the artists and songs that make up the pedigree of this generation’s cream of the crop. In his studio located just outside of Austin, Robison hosts and records an evolving array of artists who share in his commitment to continue the tradition of collaborative creativity. Everything in Bruce’s studio is recorded on analog tape “with no digital shenanigans – just like back when music was good.”
From Robison’s perspective, that difference - between digital and analog – makes all the difference. In fact it’s so important to him, that tag line appears on the liner notes of Bruce’s brand new album, Bruce Robison & The Back Porch Band, to be released on April 28. While immersed in the process of capturing some of his favorite songs and artists for The Next Waltz, Robison was inspired to round up his own band and lay down a collection of originals, co-writes and covers to put his personal stamp on. With a list of musician credits that could easily be mistaken for a hall-of-fame roll call, Robison delivers a truly organic listening experience that includes “happy accidents and all kinds of things that just feel real.”
Bruce Robison & The Back Porch Band is a “real” nine-track album made up of good-time, light hearted romps (“Rock n’ Roll Honky Tonk Ramblin’ Man”) and wistful, sometimes bittersweet ballads (“Long Time Coming”; “Still Doin’ Time”). Even The Who’s “Squeezebox” – which Robison calls a “a great country song by some English dudes” - fits perfectly in the mix. Long-time friend, Jack Ingram, appears with Robison on “Paid My Dues,” (written by Jason Eady and Micky Braun of Micky and the Motorcars) for a rowdy honky-tonker version. Robison marvels, “The song that I cut with Jack, there’s not even one overdub on it. That sounds like a simple thing, but I’ve never done that in my entire career, where we don’t even go in and fix anything.”
“Recording the way we do really allows the players to bring their own voices, their own styles, into the music,” says Robison. “That’s the kind of vibe I’m trying to get back to. I want to let people see how cool this process is and how much it has to do with country music, and how the kind of music that we make is tied to those traditions.”