185 Clingman Ave. Asheville, NC 28801
“All grit and no quit.” These are the deeply rooted words that Josh Ward lives by to an absolute fault.
An anchored mindset that has led this Texas country music rising star from a drifter’s adolescence to the jeopardous game of the rodeo circuit to the punishing toil of the Texas oil fields, and on into the fickle arms of the music business. Some might argue whether it is having nine consecutive #1 hit singles in Texas under his belt that has garnered him staying power, or that he is killing it in the social media world with over 2 million views on YouTube and over 3 million streams globally on Spotify. Maybe it’s his 3 venerated album releases, or maybe because he can not only bat a full house on a 200 plus dates a year touring average, but also rope in crowds on a first time performance in an unfamiliar town. While impressive, all those distinctions can come and go in the world of music.
Josh spent 2017 heavily touring off the strength of his previous album “Holding Me Together.” All six radio singles hit the #1 spot on the Texas Regional Radio Chart and Ward quickly found himself going from opening act to the headlining spot in a matter of months. But in the midst of his growing popularity, he gladly bent the knee to fellow country music artist and comrade Cody Johnson who introduced Ward to his West Coast audiences. Getting the chance to be endorsed by Cody Johnson and perform at sold out shows in brand new markets is the kind of opportunity music artists chomp at the bit to have. When Ward and his band returned to those areas a few months later all by their lonesome, he simply could not have guessed at the reception he would encounter. “When we went back to the West Coast by ourselves, it was sold out shows. I was literally blown away.” It was at that very point while far away from his familiar stomping grounds in Texas with new fans slapping him on the back that Ward knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that his music was catching on in a big way.
Braxton Keith calls San Antonio home, but the 20something songwriter hasn’t spent much time there in recent years. As one of the newest exports of Texas’ country music scene, he leaves town nearly every weekend, driving his band — and his own tour bus — toward the next show. “That bus is actually the only vehicle I own,” he says. “I drive it everywhere I go.”
Whether he’s onstage or behind the wheel, Braxton doesn’t just play country music. He lives it. Inspired by the traditional twang of storytellers like Marty Robbins and Merle Haggard, he writes songs that blend modern sounds with the best elements of old-school country. It’s a balance of the contemporary and the classic, glued together by a proud Texas native who’s learned to create autobiographical music about universal experiences. “These are songs about love, heartbreak, and drinking, which are things everybody knows about,” he explains. “I’m not the only person to write songs about those things. But I’m the only person to do it my way.”
Born and raised in the West Texas town of Midland, Braxton grew up playing piano. His parents were dentists. His brothers were athletes. Nobody else in the family wrote songs, but that didn’t stop Braxton from penning his first tunes as a teenager. He began playing guitar during that time, too, laying the foundation for the country sound he’d eventually pursue as a hard-touring road warrior. “When I starting writing my own songs, I wasn’t trying to be in the music industry,” he explains. “At least not yet. I was just doing it because I loved it.”