Baylor grad Josh Grider returns to familiar territory

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 12:01 am | Updated: 5:18 pm, Wed Jul 23, 2014.

Texas singer-songwriter Josh Grider may live in Nashville, Tenn., these days, but he keeps a close eye on the state where his band lives and he plays. He knows, for instance, that his new single “Summer and Sixteen” came oh so close to topping last week’s Texas Music Chart.

How close? “Five spins away,” he replied in a phone interview earlier this week.

The Texas Music Chart measures radio airplay on Texas country radio stations and while there’s not a direct impact on the pocketbook as, say, the Billboard charts that measure album sales and digital downloads, it’s a strong signal a musician is finding an audience.

“I look at it as something else to point at,” Grider said. “It’s another brick in the bigger house we’re building and No. 1 is on a load-bearing wall. Your song is getting played . . . people are listening and you see that reflected in sales.”

Grider, who had a No. 1 Texas hit with his “Lone Star Highway” last year, also sees Texas music chart success reflected in his audiences.

“When you start playing a song they know like ‘Lone Star Highway,’ you see faces light up and beers raised. And you think, ‘Yep. That works,’ ” he said.

The Texas singer-songwriter and his band perform Saturday night at Wild West Waco and the date catches them riding a wave of touring popularity with some new songs.

Grider landed a publishing deal a few years ago with AMP Entertainment and moved his wife and young son to Nashville two years ago. As he’s now paid to write songs in addition to his performing career, the 2002 Baylor graduate is doing just that.

“I’ve had more songs written in the last two years than the 10 years before,” he said. So much so that he’s always looking for ways to try out the new

material.

“I test-drive stuff all the time, a lot of times at sound checks,” he said. Although his band members sometimes are reluctant to play musical rough drafts in public, Grider just shrugs. “C’mon, we’re not changing the world here,” Grider said.

Songwriting in Nashville is often a collaborative effort and Grider finds the process stretches him in a good way. Crafting songs with female songwriters helps shape lyrics with a female perspective or sensibility and the result is a better song, he noted. “It really frees up you mind,” he said.

His backlog of new songs is nudging him and his producer toward a new album, possibly starting in November.

Saturday’s show brings Grider back to the city where his music career started. He had moved to Waco from Colorado to start his Baylor studies in 1998 and got a first-hand introduction to Texas country music. Grider recalled seeing Waco country singer-songwriter Pat Green perform at Baylor’s Marrs-McLean Gymnasium. Green’s accessibility, in contrast to arena concerts Grider had seen by superstars Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson, made the young musician realize he could do it, too. Green’s subsequent statewide success, along with that of Waco music promoter Greg Henry, confirmed that belief.

During his Baylor years, Grider played in the band Riverside. He recalls its first steady job was a weekly gig at the Continental Cowboy. Probably the greater draw on the nights that Riverside played was the club’s 25-cent beer, he added. “I think we served as a cultural bridge between Waco and Baylor,” he laughed.

Riverside also provided Grider his first recording experience in the studio at Lone Star Music and the initial thrill of seeing a single from that session in the jukebox at George’s Restaurant. “It was in George’s jukebox forever, at least until they got a digital jukebox,” Grider recalled. He met his wife at Baylor and his periodic visits to Waco bring back a multitude of memories, personal and professional. “Your first band is like your first love,” he said.

Those planning on hearing Grider and his band should bring their dancing shoes after downloading his music to learn the words, he advised. They also should tune into the upcoming season of “Troubadour TX,” an independent television series about Texas country musicians (Grider’s one) working their way up the ladder, he continued. One more thing: keep listening to “Summer and Sixteen” on the radio.

Only five more spins, you know.

-----

Josh Grider

Performance: 10 p.m. Saturday at Wild West Waco, 115 Mary Ave. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Tickets: $8 in advance, $10 day of show, $12 for those 18-20.

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