After a crazy 2011, the dreams just keep on getting better for Eli Young Band in 2012.
Fresh off a March trek to Australia for their first international tour, the Texas country-rockers got a great April Fools' Day surprise when their platinum-selling, chart-topping breakout smash “Crazy Girl” also won song of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas.
“‘Crazy Girl' going No. 1 nationally, that was a big win for the year, and then that leading up to three nominations, we just thought it really couldn't get any better than that,” bassist Jon Jones said. “And then we were like, ‘That means we're gonna have really good tickets for the show!' So we were real excited about that. Then we get to Vegas after going to Australia, which was the highlight of our year up to that point, and they tell us that we're presenting for album of the year. And we're like, ‘That's great. We get some camera time; we get to be on stage at least once.' And then we win the first award of the night,” said Jones, still sounding amazed almost three weeks after the ACM Awards.
“So really it was the best night that we've ever had as a band.”
The breakout success has been a long time coming for the Denton, Texas-based quartet — singer/guitarist Mike Eli, guitarist James Young, drummer Chris Thompson and Jones — which started back in 2000 at the University of North Texas. This week, the band will play a familiar gig that sort of sums up their 12-year journey to mainstream country music success: the 21st Annual Calf Fry at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall in Stillwater.
“Calf Fry for us is one of those events for us that we've done a handful of times and it's one of those festivals where we've played everywhere from the opening slot when the doors are opening and people are filing in and we're the band that's basically testing out the PA to a middle slot when the sun's still out ... to the headliner of the night when everybody's focused on the band and just going crazy,” Jones said last week from Montana. “We love the town and the energy the fans bring. It was the first town outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area we ever really played ... so it's been our favorite home away from home for a very long time.”
The sweet ballad “Crazy Girl,” the leadoff single from the band's 2011 album “Life at Best,” slowly gained a following, eventually selling more than 2 million copies, garnering 10 million-plus YouTube views for its video and earning the Billboard top country song of 2011 title. For many country music fans, it even became the wedding song of choice, which surprised the band's bassist.