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Josh Ward ‘old school’ country singer with an edge

Beth Atkins, Arts and Entertainment Writer

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Josh Ward, along with Flatland Cavalry, will be opening for Cody Johnson at the Midland Horseshoe Arena 8 p.m. Friday, October 6. The entertainers are headed to the Odessa-Midland area after finishing up their tour along the West Coast. Ward will definitely be an opening act you won’t want to miss.

Ward is an independent country music artist originally from Montgomery, Texas, just outside of Houston. His interest in music goes all the way back to his youth when he sang gospel hymns in his church. Ward was in the rodeo circuit during high school

and was inspired by classic country musicians, like George Jones and Merle Haggard, to begin performing country music in the parking lots of rodeo shows. The positive responses he received from these performances led him to form a small band in 2003, with whom he performed around his hometown area. These local shows slowly grew his fan-base, and, in 2007, Ward put out his first recording project: an 8-track EP entitled “Hard Whiskey.”

Ward now has two full-length albums, “Promises,” released in 2012, and his latest album, “Holding Me Together,” released in 2015; both were produced by the Grammy award-winning producer Greg Hunt. This October will mark two years since his latest album’s release. Of the singles released from his two albums, eight of them have hit number one on the Texas Regional Radio Chart, including one of his latest singles, “Change My Mind.” Ward’s song “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely” has just been released as the sixth single from his latest album. Both of Ward’s full-length albums, along with his 2007 EP “Hard Whiskey,” are available for streaming on Spotify.

I was lucky enough to get to speak with Josh Ward for a brief phone interview this week and learned some interesting things about him, his music, and his experience touring with Cody Johnson. Ward’s music has often been described as having an “old school” country sound, which he says is because he “grew up on Merle Haggard and George Jones,” obviously influencing his taste and style. The use of steel guitar in his songs is one attribute which gives them that old school feeling. But alongside this classic feel, he says that his songs still have “just enough edge” to stand out among modern music as fresh and new.

Ward says his and Cody Johnson’s musical styles complement each other, and that his tour with Johnson has helped him to become an even better artist and performer. In a previous interview on Jack Ingram’s Songwriter Series, Ward stated that one of the main purposes of his latest album “Holding Me Together” was to convey, through music, who he is. Ward told me that the themes he explores in this album are diverse, including heartbreak and sincerity along with more light, “fun-loving songs.” When asked which of his eight number one hit songs he enjoyed playing live the most, he said, “All of them are my favorite,” but specifically mentioned “Broken Heart” and “Change My Mind.”

Johnson and Ward have known each other for years, and Ward states that touring with him has been a lot of fun. He is excited about his upcoming visit to the Permian Basin and states that he has been here many times before for performances, family, and personal trips. When asked what he most looked forward to in  Friday’s show, Ward replied, “Hangin’ out with good friends” and “gettin’ to play some good music for some folks,” and said that “it’s gonna be a good time.” His light-hearted, friendly attitude and sincerity definitely seem to be reflected in his music, and in the conversation, I had with him.

Tickets for the concert are available through the Midland Horseshoe Arena’s website. Prices range anywhere from $25 to $75. Make sure you arrive early so you don’t miss out on Josh Ward’s opening act!

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