At the time Country music is mentioned, the following may pop into your mind: Moon Mullican, Willie Nelson, tax evasion, banjos, fiddles and the "jugs" of Dolly Parton.
Yet, if not already, the Eli Young Band might just come to mind when first thinking about country and western music. Unlike Moon Mullican's genre (Western Swing and Rockabilly), Willie Nelson (Outlaw country) and Dolly Parton (Mainstream country and pop), the four man band's sound fits into the Country music's genre of Country rock. And, after playing together for some eight years, they have had their career explode.
The Eli Young Band, began with relatively small goals, such as being the best band in their dinky town in Texas. Since then their single "When it Rains" "ultimately became the longest running single in the history of the country chart." Their single "Always the Love Songs" "eventually became their first Top 10 hit at country radio (www.eliyoung.net/ 2009.")
They have performed on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and Jay Leno's twice. Plus, "the band made their debut at The Grand Ole Opry, earned their first ACM nomination, CMT nomination and a performance spot at the CMT Awards (www.eliyoung.net/ 2009.") Their list of critical acclaim and other accomplishments goes on and on!
Appropriately, the Eli Young Band have been riding in major style; click the link below to check out the limo they rode in to the Country Music Awards:schlicken.blogsome.com/2007/09/03/redneck-limo/
(I'm thinking no one will be offended by that photo because all of the self-proclaimed, "Rednecks," I know poke fun at themselves and are easy-going people.)
Just for the record, the band actually rode in a jet black limo to the CMA's, which they have a video clip of on their website @ www.eliyoung.net/
Moving along, no one can truthfully say the Eli Young Band didn't work their way to where they are now--they have made the ultimate and painstaking sacrifices in every single area of their lives. From the band's very start in their small town of Denton, Texas, they rehearsed and played local shows while cramming in the duties of being college students and often working two day jobs on top of it all. (Now, that's what I call criteria fit for serious exhaustion and a nervous breakdown!)
As a result, they have missed priceless special moments with their families, the chance to have steady romantic relationships and the comforts and luxuries of home sweet home (e.g. assumingly not having to empty the waste of four men from an R.V plus being overpowered and overwhelmed by the putrid stench of each other's feet!)
Regardless of the Eli Young Band's grueling hard work, heartbreaking sacrifices, and the rough times they've seen in the lives of others, their music is explained as being colored with an underlying infectious optimism. Jon Jones (bass player) sums up the predominate theme of their music best, "It might be raining today, but it might be sunny tomorrow, so it's worth sticking around for (www.eliyoung.net/ 2009.")
Given the band's mighty impressive history, credentials and drive, the question lies whether they will fall short of people's expectations at their show tonight at Joe's Bar in Chicago?
When I walked into the tavern, I couldn't help but notice it was jammed packed with people in their 20's or so, with a basically even guy to girl ratio. To my surprise though I saw more baseball caps than cowboy hats.
The Eli Young Band played their song "Radio Waves" first and their energy as well as the audiences' was depressingly lacking. Yeah, initially their performance was disappointing until they "belted out" their third or fourth song, which was "When it Rains."
Most of the band's songs that followed would start off slow and mellow, and at the middle to end they would have instrumental passion, intensity and vocals of strength, ownership, confidence--gusto!
The Eli Young Band are tight, polished musicians who not only know how to play their instruments well, but also a crowd. For instance, Chris Thompson on drums and lead guitarist, James Young, usually did not stop playing at the end of the band's songs. That is, Thompson gave fun funky beats of the drums while Young displayed eclectic guitar riffs, psychedelic, rock and so on. They created a greater anticipation, in a good way, for the next song to be played and sung.
Jon Jones was no slouch, either--he played the bass right on, masterfully and seemingly effortlessly while having a stoic-like stage presence. His younger brother, Mike Eli (vocals and guitar), interacted with the crowd just the right amount--not to the point where you're thinking to yourself, "Man, c'mon--would you just shut up, and play already"!
A few times Eli ordered him and the rest of the band shots and they raised their glasses to give cheers to the audience. The fans would hold their bottles of Bud and pitcher's of Coors Light up high in the air, before them and the band "tossed them down the hatchet." Eli also held the mic over the fans, who sang at least three of the band's songs back to them.
Yet, my cowgirl hat really goes off to them for their rendition of the Beatle's song "Come Together." It was played low-key, sensually and seductively until in the midst of it when the band turned it into nothing short of awe-inspiring, with chaotic and extra loud sounds coming from all of the band's instruments. It resembled the music in the song "Helter Skelter," magnificently!
After the band played "Always the Love Songs" and for their encore "Small Town Kid" they gave their autographs and threw a bunch of guitar pics and some of their t-shirts to their fans. (During which time the band wore genuine smiles.)
I spoke to about three people after the show and they said it was good and they didn't have any complaints.
An additional person I probed, Ken Snyder, told me his favorite thing about the Eli Young Band is how they are with their fans. He revealed they had allowed him to party with them on their tour bus before. Ken said he was so taken by the band, being "very personable" coupled with their "great music," he has been following them for the past two years. Ken, whose from Ohio, has been driving from state to state in even the worst of winter weather to make their shows.
Another long time fan of the band, Shannon Sawyer, whose also from the band's little Texas town, had no difficulty answering what she likes most about the band--she said she really likes "that they're not mainstream country."
Perhaps, more interesting, though, was I saw Eli stick his tongue out at a pretty blonde backstage. It did not look as if he meant in a good way, either. I'm so nosey, I would love to know how he and the lady are associated! Maybe, the National Inquirer will let us "busybodies" know someday.
Of greater significance, new songs from the band's "Jet Black & Jealous" album were well received from the crowd this evening. I'd say the loudest screams from their most recent songs came from after they played the one "Crazy Girl." So, "for whatever my two cents are worth," I predict we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from these guys.
Lastly, speaking for fans of the Eli Young Band in Chicagoland, "Y' All Come Back Now, Ya Here?"