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Eli Young Band works on a new album, enjoys mainstream success

Texas country-rockers Eli Young Band are returning Friday to the Oklahoma State Fair as part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls Tour at Jim Norick State Fair Arena.
by Brandy McDonnell Modified: September 19, 2013 at 7:10 pm •  Published: September 20, 2013

Since Texas is home for the Eli Young Band, Oklahoma is sort of like your favorite neighbor's house.

“It's just right next door,” said guitarist and co-founder James Young in a recent phone interview. “Oklahoma's always been great to us.”

The Texas country-rockers are returning Friday to the Oklahoma State Fair as part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Xtreme Bulls Tour at Jim Norick State Fair Arena.

Since they last played the fair in 2011, the Lone Star State quartet is enjoying a new level of success thanks to its double-platinum ballad “Crazy Girl,” which became the group's first No. 1 hit, Billboard's most-played country song of 2011 and the Academy of Country Music's 2012 song of the year. The inspirational follow-up single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” also reached No. 1 and went platinum.

“I remember being blown away by the crowd the last time we were there, so I can only imagine what it will be like this time,” Young said. “We've always had an amazing fan base in Oklahoma and Texas, 'cause, I mean, heck, we've been playing there for so many years. I think what we're finding now is (with) the crowd, really you have people who might just know us from ‘Crazy Girl' and ‘Breaks Your Heart.' But it's great to see those fans that were kind of there in the beginning and those fans that know like the earlier stuff off ‘Level' and some of our early records before, you know, we were doing what we're doing now.”

Rewards of success

With the mainstream popularity of 2011's “Life at Best,” the album that featured “Crazy Girl” and “Even if It Breaks Your Heart,” the Texans — singer/guitarist Mike Eli, bassist Jon Jones, drummer Chris Thompson and Young — have been able to play late-night talk shows, cut a track for the tribute album “Alabama & Friends,” tour across the country with Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley and even take their music international with a jaunt to Australia.

The success has given the band members opportunities to spend more time with their growing families: Young got married about a year and a half ago; Eli's daughter just turned 1; and Jones welcomed a baby about 6 months ago.

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by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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