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Red dirt rocker, state chart-topper gives audiences some Texas country flavor



Reared in rock with folk singer roots, red dirt music is often disparagingly referred to as "college country" in music towns outside Oklahoma and Texas.

But that's fine with Josh Abbott, a singer/songwriter and band leader from Texas. For Abbott and the rest of his band " fiddle player and guitarist Preston Wait, drummer Edward Villanueva and bassist Daniel Almodova  " the moniker simply means a diverse set of fans and an Internet-savvy audience eager for more.

"You wouldn't believe the amount of people that have MySpace," Abbott said. "They log on and listen and want to message us and talk to us. Word just gets around so fast."

In many ways, the Josh Abbott Band is a college country band. Forming on the Texas Tech campus in early 2006, Abbott joined three fellow fraternity brothers and booked a show at Lubbock's Blue Light " a club well-known by locals and acts touring through West Texas.

The group released a four-song, self-titled EP in 2007, an album Abbott said was intended as "a demo, really." The album became a fan favorite, thanks to the tune "Taste," an acoustic guitar and fiddle-driven love song that boasts more than 800,000 plays on the band's MySpace page. In September 2008, the band released "Scapegoat," its first full-length release. The album is still being carried by "Buried Me," a track that's made it to the top 20 of the Texas Music Chart.

"Our (album) sales are pretty shocking to a lot of people," Abbott said. "Especially for a no-label, indie Texas country band. A lot of people are pretty shocked."

The Josh Abbott Band will perform 10 p.m. Friday at the Wormy Dog Saloon in Bricktown, the group's first time playing to Oklahoma City crowds.

"We thought we'd be the opener, but they decided to let us headline," Abbott said, with a laugh. "We've been up to Stillwater a few times, but we're excited to play in Oklahoma City."

He said he has already started writing songs for a new album, which he and the band will record over the summer and release next fall or early winter. One new song, "Brushy Creek," which Abbott said has an "Alan Jackson feel" to it, has already become a live set staple and will likely appear on the new album.

He said the group likes to test songs with live audiences before they commit to recording.

"We like to see what they dig and what they respond to," he said. "The feedback helps us decide what to record." "Joe Wertz

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