Josh Ward

Josh Ward will perform Saturday at the Melody Ranch.

Mark Deskin/Aggieland Photography photo

Performers often speak of being in the groove when they perform, that moment when everything clicks between what’s on stage and what’s in the audience. Texas honky-tonker Josh Ward looks for “the big ol’ whirlpool.”

That’s what he calls the moving circle of two-steppers around a Texas dance hall floor and when he sees it forming, he knows he’s doing something right.

“I learned this long ago: If they ain’t drinking and they ain’t dancing, you ain’t doing your job,” he said in a recent phone interview from his home in Montgomery.

Ward’s apparently doing his job: He and his band play Saturday night at Waco dance hall the Melody Ranch, in what he estimates may be his 10th or so appearance there over the years.

If one could see radio, Ward’s music might be swirling, too. “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely” recently hit Texas country radio, the sixth single from his 2015 album “Holding Me Together,” and already is in the Top 30 on the Texas regional radio charts.

Albums that have more than three singles winning substantial airplay usually delight their makers; six singles is rare, but Ward, who also has an enviable streak of eight consecutive No. 1 hits, takes it in stride.

“If you’ve got great songs, put them out,” he said. “(Six singles) means you put a heckuva lineup on your record when you did.”

Ward, 37, also can boast of more than 1 million views on YouTube and a recent live concert stream from Fort Worth honkytonk Billy Bob’s Texas that drew 11,000 online viewers.

It’s all satisfying to the country musician who got started only about 15 years ago when Ward, then a high school rodeo rider, would play in the rodeo parking lot for whoever would listen. He started recording in 2007 and put together his current band in 2014.

He attributes the response to “Holding Me Together,” his fifth album, to the songwriters in Nashville and Ohio with whom he writes and to his gut. “Every record I’ve ever done, I let it speak to me,” he said.

Ward fans will be glad to hear there’s a new album in the works, with a May release date penciled in. Even better, he plans on more of the same. “It’s that old saying — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said.

Until then, he’s happy to stand on the stage with his band and watch for the dancing whirlpool.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years, but the last couple of years it really caught on,” Ward said. “I’m still having the time of my life.”

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor