Fans of country music performer Cody Johnson were more than a little disappointed after his concert was rained out on the final night of the 2018 Crawford County Fair. Those same fans, however, will get another shot to see Johnson this summer, as he is set to open the 2019 fair, which runs July 9-13.
The Crawford County Fair Board officially announced last week that Johnson will perform on the Main Stage at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9, following the annual parade to open the 2019 fair. The Tuesday night concert also means that the annual Family Night at the fair, which includes free admission, will be moved to Wednesday, July 10.
While fair tickets do not include a rain check, the fair board has also announced it will try to honor tickets that individuals had for last year’s concert by Johnson that was rained out. If you still have the Saturday portion of your 2018 ticket or your Saturday armband, you will be able to attend this year’s opening night for free (those who live out of the area who had tickets for last year are encouraged to contact the Fair Board via its Facebook page to arrange 2019 Tuesday night tickets).
Take note, however, that the concert is also included in your 2019 ticket price, which will feature two other Main Stage concerts featuring Scotty Bratcher on Friday and the Josh Abbott Band on Saturday. The 2019 fair tickets prices are $20 for Tuesday, free on Wednesday, $15 for Thursday, $20 for Friday or $25 for Saturday. Season passes are $30 in advance or $35 at the gate (only available the first two nights of the fair).
Attendance for Johnson’s concert this year will likely be even higher than what was anticipated in 2018 after he landed two releases in the Top 10 of Billboard’s country albums chart on his own CoJo label and sold 74,000 tickets for a single show at NRG Stadium during RodeoHouston. He has now also signed with Warner Music Nashville.
Johnson’s passionate, rowdy concerts have already drawn comparisons to Garth Brooks, and the music from his previous albums – inspired by ‘90s country foundations but built for the 21st century – has made him a familiar presence on Texas and Oklahoma red-dirt radio.
Johnson’s introductory Warner project, “Ain’t Nothin’ to It,” ups the ante. After writing the bulk of his previous material, he put out word in Nashville that he was open to songs from other sources, and the results were astonishing. A-list writers – including Chris Stapleton, Radney Foster and Brothers Osborne guitarist John Osborne – came to the table with songs that suited Johnson’s life and disposition. Music fans who are just now coming to the table will get a quick understanding of Johnson, from the rowdy troublemaker in the swampy “Doubt Me Now” to the devoted family man in the title track to the self-penned ex-bull rider in “Dear Rodeo” to the devoted Christian in “His Name Is Jesus.”
In 2018, Johnson won Texas Regional Radio’s Male Vocalist again, while adding Album of the Year for “Gotta Be Me” and Single for “Wild As You.” By then, he had already completed work on “Ain’t Nothin’ to It” with longtime producer Trent Willmon, a fellow singer/songwriter who authored hits for Montgomery Gentry and Steel Magnolia.
Now, one of country’s most-sought-after, formerly unsigned musicians is matched with one of Nashville’s most influential labels, at his peak with a traditionally-built sound just as country music is experiencing a ‘90s revolution. Johnson was a hold out for all the right reasons. And now he’s part of a team, again for all the right reasons.
OTHER 2019 ENTERTAINMENT
The 2019 Crawford County Fair will also feature concerts by Scotty Bratcher, a blues/southern rock performer on Friday night, and country music from the Josh Abbott Band on Saturday. Opening acts on Saturday are Justin McCormick and Cameron Debois.
Bratcher, born October 31, 1987, began playing guitar at an age that it became second nature to him; he was 2. By this time, Stevie Ray Vaughan was impressing the world, and when the 1989 release of Austin City Limits was aired, Bratcher was in front of the television. His father had acquired, over time, a few electric guitars that he introduced to the toddler.
At age 11, the family, grandmother and all, began going to open mic nights at clubs in the greater Cincinnati area to expose Bratcher to the live music scene. This was where he began getting on-stage experience and eventually found band members to support him. In the next several years, Bratcher sat in with various bands, one of which posed the opportunity to open for guitar hero Lonnie Mack.
In 2000, Bratcher was entered into the National Jam with Kenny Wayne Shepherd Contest where contestants were to download via computer KWS’s new single of which the lead solo was to be made up by the competitors. Out of 1,200 entries, Sbratcher received 1st runner up.
Bratcher has played with and opened for names like Ted Nugent, Little Texas, Blue Oyster Cult, Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, Chris Duarte, Anthony Gomes, Foghat, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks, Bob Margolin, Eddie "the Chief" Clearwater, Lonnie Mack, Walter Trout, .38 Special, Styx, Peter Frampton, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tinsley Ellis, Lou Graham of Foreigner, Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers Band, Delbert McClinton, Lee Roy Parnell, and many more.
He is also an accomplished studio musician who has recorded with many blues, rock, country, gospel, funk and even heavy metal artists. As of 2007 and since, Bratcher joined forces with Noah Hunt, lead singer for the Kenny Wayne Shepherd band, as the guitar player and second vocalist of the group The 420 Allstars featuring Noah Hunt.
In 2013, the album “All and Nothing More” was released, featuring many new original songs and a few covers featuring legendary Southern rocker Jimmy Hall. After the release, Mr. Hall contacted Bratcher about starting a side project together, adding yet another schedule full of opportunities to see him perform around the country, and sometimes out of it!
The genesis of the Josh Abbot Band (JAB) was almost non-descript. Abbott and Austin Davis, frat brothers at Texas Tech University, performed at a couple of open mic nights at the Blue Light Live in Lubbock. Those dates gave the two budding musicians “the bug,” and they grew their duo into a full-fledged band. Edward Villanueva and fiddler Preston Wait were the first of the current lineup to join, followed by bass player James Hertless and guitarist Caleb Keeter in 2010, and keyboard player David Fralin in 2015.
The Josh Abbott Band
Texas’ red-dirt scene provides a wealth of touring opportunities for young bands, and JAB made the most of it, quickly vaulting into the upper realms of the state’s live acts with a raucous, raw sound and a certain unpredictability. Once “Taste” appeared on radio stations across the Lone Star State, audiences came out to hear – and sing along with – that song and a wealth of hooky, accessible titles on Scapegoat and their 2010 breakthrough, “She’s Like Texas,” both released on the band’s own indie label, the appropriately-named Pretty Damn Tough Records.
JAB nabbed Top 10 debuts on the Billboard country albums chart with 2012’s Small Town Family Dream and 2015’s Front Row Seat, and the band lobbed five singles onto the Hot Country Songs chart, including the infectious “Hangin’ Around” and “Amnesia.” In a cool quirk, JAB also provided two significant women their first chart exposure: 2011’s “Oh, Tonight” introduced many listeners to award-winning Kacey Musgraves, and 2016’s “Wasn’t That Drunk” set up Carly Pearce to sign with Nashville’s Big Machine Records.
Opening for JAB will be Justin McCormick, now 17, who has been signed as an Emerging Artist to PCG Universal in Nashville, TN. The CEO of PCG, Bernard Porter, has managed acts such as Jason Aldean, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Diffie, Little Richard, Michael Ray and Alabama, and Cameron Debois, who is currently touring American building fan base and working with collaborators in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on her next album.
Justin McCormick and Cameron Debois
Other events scheduled at this year’s fair include bull riding on Saturday night, a truck and tractor pull on Thursday and Friday, and the annual queen coronation, prince and princess contest, and a performance by Bourbon singer Blake Beckett on Wednesday night.
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