With its new album “Small Town Family Dream,” the Josh Abbott Band pays tribute to the loves, struggles and misadventures of rural denizens in their native Texas and other middle-America states.
Unlike the fictional folks who inhabit many mainstream country hits, the characters in their songs aren't the kind to drive sexy tractors, serve cornbread and sweet tea at every meal or pass the days cane-pole fishing.
“When you get off a tractor at the end of a long, hard day, you don't come home to some supermodel wearing a bikini bathing your tractor and climbing all over it. That just doesn't happen,” said Josh Abbott, the band's singer, acoustic guitarist and primary songwriter, with a laugh.
“The bookends of the album and from song one to 12 really tell the story of what it's like to be in a small town, whether that's in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota or Alabama. You know, in the Southern and Midwest states that have small towns, I feel like people really relate to that.”
Maybe those authentic blue-collar songs are why the Texas country sextet has earned such a strong fan base in the Oklahoma City area. Of course, the free T-shirts and CDs Abbott gave away to all 300 fans who turned out at a Wormy Dog Saloon show a few years ago could have something to do with it, too.
“Well, that was cool. We were just having a good time and the crowd was really into it, and you know, we were just still trying to get our name out there,” he recalled. “I just thought, ‘Man, you know what, instead of like hoping X amount of people buy a shirt or CD, I'm just gonna give it away.' So we literally gave away like every shirt and CD that we had. It was awesome.”
Instead of the Wormy Dog, with its 750-fan capacity, Abbott and Co. will play Friday night at the 1,500-seat Showplace Theatre at Norman's Riverwind Casino. But the frontman said fans of the up-and-coming band should expect the same rollicking show.
“We hope that they'll pick up on our energy and how much we appreciate them being there,” Abbott said. “When people come to a live show, they expect to be entertained, they expect a good time, and it's our job to make sure that that happens.”