Tag Archives: Ross Copperman





     If you walk into a casino hoping that lady luck is on your side, perhaps what you need to do is put EYB on your playlist. Originally a garage band from Texas, Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones, and Chris Thompson have been together for 15 years. Professionally, they’re the Eli Young Band. They have found unprecedented success in the music business, despite the odds being stacked against them. The hand they were dealt consisted of four unique musicians, each with different taste in music. First, they had to come up with a sound that would win over music fans in Texas. Beat the house there and they had to play again, taking on the house capable of dealing them a record deal. The Nashville music scene is stacked like a house of cards. You might be invited to sit in for a game, but staying in the game takes skill, and sometimes the luck of a lady……or at least one (#1) “Crazy Girl.”

     To understand the sound of a band, you have to follow the roots of each of its members. The guys from EYB met in college in Denton, Texas at North Texas State, just north of Dallas. They started hanging out, playing the music they liked for each other. For Chris (drummer) it was Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and grunge rock. The first country he got into was Dwight Yoakam. James (lead guitar) listened to more country, like Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson, but was tuned in to some rock music as well. Mike (lead vocals) was purely a country listener and liked the old school, Opry stuff. Jon (bass) added some jazz, big band, and funk to the mix. When they started writing and recording music, all of these sounds showed up at the table. Before Mike came along, James, Jon, and Chris were playing Weezer and Radiohead covers. When Mike entered the picture, he and James sat around playing country songs. Shortly thereafter, the two became an acoustic duo playing the Denton bars as Eli & Young. Within about a year, Jon and Chris joined them and the Eli Young Band was formed. They thought about changing the name to something less personal but Chris said they could never agree on anything that sounded cool enough. Once the merchandise started being made, EYB stuck.

     Many country bands start out with a dream of hitting it big and set their sights on Nashville. For EYB, that was never a planned destination. Chris said when they first started playing together, they did it just for fun and free beer. There was never a conversation about being a country band, moving to Nashville, and scoring a record deal. It may surprise you that they still don’t live in Nashville. When they decided they wanted to make a go of being a professional band, they cut their teeth in the Texas music scene. Texas has a vibrant music scene with a ton of venues that book live music. Once you start playing, the challenge is to have the songs that will attract a fan base. Soon, they were selling tickets and records at a rate better than a lot of their peers in the Texas market. To traditionalists in the Texas scene, Chris said EYB never fit that mold. It wasn’t until they’d achieved national success that Texas lauded their roots.

     Not wanting to pigeonhole themselves as a Texas band, EYB made a conscious effort to play the national scene. Gaining traction at that level was no easy task. It took years for them to get anyone’s attention in Nashville. Seen as outsiders living in Texas, it took some success for them to break through. They had to overcome being disregarded as a Texas band by Nashville insiders and country radio. Fans loved the music and bought tickets to their shows. Without any hits on the radio, EYB was selling 3,000 tickets to shows around the country. This herculean feat had record labels asking them how they were doing it. With little support from the industry, they’d achieved what few others had. No longer just a little Texas band, the Eli Young Band was commanding a Nashville audience and country radio was about to spin their hits like crazy.

     From the time they started recording, the sound of EYB has had people talking. With so much diversity in their roots, it’s not surprising that their music is a unique blend that’s not easy to put in a box. Chris says they never decided to be a country band. They’d put out two records and were well on their way to being an established band when their publicist asked how they wanted to be classified, rock or country? Their decision was based on Mike’s voice sounding undeniably country to them and their early sound being somewhat Americana. They felt they leaned more towards country so that’s the box that got checked. Through the years from about 2005 to the present, their sound has evolved as they’ve grown through the process. The early sound was more of a rock/blues fusion and through the first two or three albums, their sound was well defined. Chris felt that by 2011, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” was a defining change in that sound. By 2014 with 10,000 Towns, it changed further. It was still essentially EYB, but as Chris called it, “a different version of us.” On their upcoming EP, there are some early sounds and some elements of pop/rock in the mix.

     The process of writing and recording music for EYB has been an evolutionary one. They’ve always written music together, but in the early days, Chris said they would sit around and write together with their instruments and fill in the words later. Now it’s an opposite process that he says is much more efficient. In the crafting of an album, they work like a rock band. The guys play on the albums and write most of the songs. They do bring in other studio musicians to play instruments they don’t. For everything else, what you hear is EYB. Over the years, they’ve grown a lot as musicians in this process. The down side is that the process has been slow going, often putting two to three year gaps between releases. The new EP they’re about to release, Turn It On, marks a complete departure from the way they’ve made and released music in the past. The making of 10,000 Towns was a long and arduous process that Chris described as “chiseling something out of rock.” Alternately, he said the making of Turn It On was a shoot from the hip, trust your gut experience.

     Chris was excited to share with me the uncharacteristic way this new EP came together for them. Wanting to get away from the long periods between albums, they started writing new material as soon as they finished the last record. They had songwriters come out on the road with them, two of which were Ross Copperman and Jeremy Stover, who would end up producing the project. In one afternoon they wrote “Drink You Up.” Chris said they went and played a ELI YOUNG BAND - TURN IT ON EP COVERshow and when they came back, Ross had done a computer demo of the song and added sounds to it that were different than what they would normally do. Those who got to listen to it, liked it. A couple months later they were in the studio recording some music for no particular purpose and wound up with Ross and Jeremy again. In two days, they cut the four songs that ended up on the EP. When they recorded these, they brought in some earlier vocals Mike had done on the bus and a few other parts and put them all together. Chris said it was like making songs in reverse. Doing this with no particular project in mind, they didn’t tell anyone they were recording. When the label got wind they were in town and working on new music, they showed up at the studio the second night of recording. The sound of the new stuff was very different than what they’d done in the past and they were concerned the label wouldn’t like it. Republic Nashville president, Jimmy Harnen, sat on a couch and listened. Two songs in, he was sold. A week later they had a meeting. The label planned to release the four new songs immediately as an EP. Chris said that in just a three week period it turned into a new project. They’d had complete freedom to do things their way and the label loved it. Rarely does this happen.

     Turn It On has a spirit about it and that spirit may have come from the making of the record. Putting this together quickly, Chris described it as “capturing a moment instead of crafting something.” He feels that if there’s too much lag time between the writing and recording of a song, you can lose the spirit of it. The four songs that are on the new EP put the depth EYB has in neon lights. It’s the excitement of finding something new and encapsulating that spark in a recorded performance. The energy that sizzles in every song is a wellspring they can tap into when they play them live. Imagine a bar after closing time. The lights have been turned off and the jukebox is unplugged. Finishing your shift, you’re the last one to leave. You notice new music from EYB has been loaded into the jukebox. Wanting to be the first to hear it, you plug it in and “Turn It On.” What explodes from the speakers is a sound capable of lighting up the room and filling the place with excited fans ready to have a good time. Play through the songs just once and you’ll be hooked on the feeling.

     The title track and first single to be released from the EP, “Turn It On,” takes no time for small talk. From the first few notes, you’ll be tapping your feet and moving to the music. The enthusiasm in this one grabs you immediately. Mike Eli’s deliciously smooth country vocal suddenly bursts as if the lyrics demand he swallow Pop Rocks. Even the neon lights are buzzing with the excitement in this one. No way you can listen to this just once. This may soon be your new favorite song….until you hear the next one. “Plastic” is about standing out in a crowded room full of country girls. The music is a slow dance with a groove and not a cliched lyric rolls off Mike’s tongue. It’s a guy looking across a bar at a girl he’s fascinated by and appreciating what makes her different. This one could be a game changer on country radio, proving that it’s possible to put more than just one type of girl in a country song. Bravo to the songwriters on this one (Mike Eli, Ashley Gorley, Ross Copperman, Jeremy Stover)! Hooked on this one? Just wait…. “Your Place Or Mine” is irresistible, much as the lyrics suggest. Mike delivers a killer vocal on this that sets the mood from the outset. There’s no doubt this one is headed for a late night rendezvous. The intrigue laden instrumentals that show up throughout give this complexity from a musical standpoint that adds to the “it’s complicated” set of circumstances. Out of breath? Hold that thought….Chris described “Drink You Up” as the next song that may change things dramatically for EYB. I’d say, bet on this being a number one. Absolutely infectious, this one has the appeal of an open bar. When the music gets quiet in the middle of the song, it’s like waiting in line for that next drink. As soon as you get it, the party starts all over again with Mike’s vocal pushing you towards the dance floor. Expect this to be played in every bar in the country, country music themed or otherwise. With any luck, EYB will be there live to play it for you!

     For eight years, the Eli Young Band toured the country headlining their own shows, routinely playing a two to three hour set. Once their music got some radio airplay and they were making a name for themselves nationally, they got offers to be a part of larger tours. Over the years, they’ve opened for Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, and many others. This year, they’re going back to headlining their own shows and playing fewer of them. Family time is important to the band and less time on the road affords them that opportunity. As luck would have it, one of the stops on this year’s tour was at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, West Virginia. The odds of this happening were definitely not in my favor, so I seized the opportunity to see their live show. Having conducted this interview just prior to the performance, Chris told me a few things I could expect to see. They planned to open the show with one of the new songs off the EP, “Drink You Up.” Admittedly, this was a gamble. They had never opened a show with a brand new, unreleased song they’d just learned to play. The intent was to shock the audience. He said they were nervous about it but they would feed off that energy to open with a bang. It was a gamble that paid off.

     I’ve seen a lot of concerts in the past couple of years that have included some of the biggest names in country music. Few have blown me away like EYB. What they bring to the stage is an unbridled, live band performance. Opening with “Drink You Up,” the audience was captivated by a song they’d never heard before and pulled in by the amount of energy EYB hit the stage with. At the end of the song, people were looking at each other with surprised expressions of “what just happened?” They kept the energy high going straight into a rock-edged version of “Revelations.” I knew most all of the songs in the set list, but nothing was played as I expected it to be. Mike is outstanding as a front man. He had control of the audience from start to finish and he makes his way through the set list as if he’s telling the story of who they are through the music. Musically, the transitions are flawless and hands down the best I’ve seen. Mike’s storytelling between songs adds to the experience of the music you’re about to hear. Even the songs you know well become something new in their live performance. “Dust on the Bottle” became an intro into their own hit, “Dust.” From there, they introduced the new single off the EP, “Turn It On.” You would never know it hadn’t been heard before. The crowd responded to the high energy fun this song invites and the band played it like it was already a fan favorite. No doubt, it will be.

     The rest of the set was one special moment after another. During “Prayer For The Road,” their new video played on the screens on either side of the stage. I could tell that many in the crowd hadn’t seen this video before and were glued to it. I had seen it, but listening to EYB play the song live along with it, gave it a poignancy you rarely see. Absolutely stunning. Mike’s intro to “Drunk Last Night” had the audience more than ready by the time they launched into the song that everyone had been waiting for. They followed that #1 hit with another, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” It seemed everyone there knew the words to this one and helped Mike sing it. A slow, acoustic version of Garth’s classic, “The Thunder Rolls,” led into the acoustic opening of “Guinevere.” This beautiful ballad is a showcase for the talent in this band, ending with a killer drum solo by Chris Thompson. From there, they went back to one of the earliest songs they’d written, “Small Town Kid,” and ended the regular set with their first #1, “Crazy Girl.” Having played all of their hits, the encore was a surprise. Apparently, someone in the crowd had been asking for some Skynyrd so EYB finished with an outstanding rendition of “Gimme Three Steps.” It seemed a perfect ending for a set that began with a song that represents how far they’ve come from that Texas garage band that probably played Skynyrd more times than they care to remember.

     Leaving that show, I felt I had a good sense of who EYB is as a band. Chris said there’s a brotherhood and a depth to their relationship and it shows in their live performance. When you watch them together on stage, it’s like seeing them grow musically before your eyes. The set gives you the highlights of their years together, but the way they interact on stage, you get garage band camaraderie in the form of four exceptional musicians. They seem comfortable with their musical identity and clearly enjoy the music they play. When I asked about the choice of the new single, Chris said the label chose it and they were fine with that. They only record songs they love and believe in and it shows in the way they play. In making the new EP, they’ve taken a gamble on changing the process, the sound, and the way in which it’s being released. I predict Turn It On is headed for a big payout with four songs that are all capable of hitting that number one spot. Luck might be a lady, but with this EP, the odds for a winner favor EYB.

     From WAY North of Nashville……..Bev Miskus

Visit EYB’s Website: http://eliyoungband.com/index.php 


“Turn It On” Audio – http://vevo.ly/O90noV

“Plastic” Audio – http://vevo.ly/IqwkoJ

“Your Place Or Mine” Audio – http://vevo.ly/daWuGE

“Drink You Up” Audio – http://vevo.ly/dh7mD0

Listen to the four great songs on this EP. Can you pick a favorite?


Check out EYB’s latest album, 10,000 Towns: http://waynorthofnashville.com/eli-young-band-10000-towns-and-a-lot-of-familiar-miles/

©2015Bev Miskus




Songwriters: Ross Copperman, Tully Kennedy, Jon Nite

DB’s future campaign song is available through iTunes: HERE

      In a shocking turn of events this week, I found a congress that actually works! No, not the one on Capitol Hill. (As if!) This one belongs to Dierks Bentley. They don’t work WHISKEY ROW SCOTTSDALEunder a dome and Goldie isn’t parked at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When they meet, it’s usually at a concert venue. First, members of DB Congress stand together in line, often all day, so they can be first into the pit area and line up right along the stage. No opposite sides of the aisle for these members! Once their president  takes the stage, not the slightest disagreement takes place. No rebuttal necessary. They agree on absolutely everything, except maybe the set list. Perhaps what that other congress needs is to “Tip It On Back” with Dierks.

     The question keeps hovering above Music City these days, what makes something “country music?” Many want to tie it to a particular sound or style of lyrics. I think we may imagebe looking for that answer in the wrong place.  Following a few fan groups as I have recently, I’m finding a clear pattern amongst country music fans that seems to exemplify the genre. What sets them apart from other fans is the reasons they like country music and why they become devoted to certain favorites. In the rock era, there were plenty of groupies and fanatical fans, but no one would tell you they supported Motley Crue because of their exemplary character. Yeah, those four words in the same sentence – “Motley Crue” and “exemplary character,” would not have gotten me an ‘A’ on an English paper! When I spoke to the Chair of Dierks Bentley’s fan club, which is officially named ‘DB Congress,’ she couldn’t say enough about the character of the man they wholeheartedly support.

     When you say the word ‘congress,’ I can hear you groaning from here, it conjures up thoughts of nasty campaigning and contested election results. Dierks Bentley’s congress DBC-RiserTour-Charlotte-may8began to assemble because of a genuine moment between him and the current Chairwoman of the DB Congress, Ronna Clark. She’d waited in line for three hours to meet him at a large fan event in 2004. Being among the last in line after that long a wait, you’d expect the artist to be tired and dismiss you rather quickly. Dierks introduced himself (as if he needed to!), made eye contact, thanked her for waiting so long, and had a real conversation with a fan he’d just met. From that chance encounter, she became more than just a fan of Dierks Bentley, she would become one of his biggest supporters. When an artist is breaking into the business, getting those first few albums out, their fan club offerings are often haphazardly put together. Things change as fans either respond and join the club, or it falls flat and the idea is reconsidered. DB Congress formed on Dierks.com in 2007. Ronna spent some time on the message boards there before connecting with other fans and sharing her passion. In 2009, when management changed and the message board was lost, she appointed herself Chair and started dbcongress.com. As often happens when people feel as though they’ve lost their voice and connection to each other, they band together to create a stronger one.

     In order to form a more perfect union, just as those early patriots did, the DB Congress started with a preamble: “We the members of the Dierks Bentley Congress, in order to form a more perfect fan club, establish a band of brothers and sisters, ensure domestic, light, and colds for all, provide a voice for the common fans not in the fan club, promote the general welfare of our president’s career, and secure the blessings of his tremendous talents, do ordain and establish this constitution of the united fan-clubbers of DB, country music singer, songwriter, artist extraordinaire.” And boy do they mean it! When Ronna invited me to take a look at their site at dbcongress-blog header-2014http://www.dbcongress.com/, I had no idea I would find the well organized, tight-knit community of followers I found there. Their efforts are completely transparent (now there’s a concept!), compartmentalized, and efficient in working towards their clearly stated goals. They have representatives in all 50 states and in 10 countries around the world, all dedicated to the same cause. As of now, they are 777 members strong! Among the ranks, they take on various tasks and promotions and each do their part for the greater good of the end game. Maybe they should write a book called ‘How To Run a Congress for Dummies’ and I would be more than happy to deliver it to the Capitol!

     The name ‘DB Congress‘ came out of an interview Dierks had done in 2006. He referred to his fan club as being “like his congress.” He went on to say that he listens to them imageand wants them involved in the overall growth of his music and his career. Some time after his devoted fans adopted the name ‘DB Congress’ in 2009 for their efforts on dbcongress.com, Dierks showed just how much respect he has for this group by asking THEM for permission to use the term ‘DB Congress‘ for HIS official fan club online. Talk about R-E-S-P-E-C-T! What’s more impressive about this act is that it isn’t at all unlike Dierks to do such a thing. Ronna repeatedly told me about instances of Dierks interacting with fans and members of his team, treating them all as equals and NEVER as if he were anything more special than they were. May I be the first to offer to manage Dierks’ campaign should he ever decide to run for office?! Listening to her talk about Dierks Bentley was as much a character analysis as it was a music review. Of course his fans love the music, but it’s the making of that music and the man behind it that they are so proud of.

     “I Hold On,” Dierks’ latest #1 hit off his Grammy worthy new album, RISER, is a song his congress members feel represents him beautifully. “It’s Dierks to a tee,” Ronna summed up. Dierks co-wrote half the songs on the album and his core fan group says he image (2)poured a lot of himself into those lyrics. They  talk about Dierks the songwriter as much as Dierks the performer. When you put that much of your heart into the music, it’s bound to transcend the studio recording of it and manifest itself into the live show. They’ve all seen enough of Dierks’ live shows to see that transition in action. When Dierks shows up for a concert, she explained, he is completely present in the moment. It is obvious in everything he does throughout the show that, to him, there is nothing more important than making a connection with every person in that room. Not only do his songs resonate with the audience, but fans feel like they’re taking home a piece of Dierks with that ticket stub. When she said that to me, I couldn’t help thinking about a song on the album called “Back Porch.” Dierks didn’t write this one, but the way she described his concerts, it reminded me of the opening lyrics: “Ain’t no line around the corner, no security. No velvet rope, no dress code. Everybody’s V.I.P. You can wear your hat, dance in your bare feet. No credit card, no roll of cash. Just B.Y.O.B.” It sounds like Dierks approaches his concert stops as if he’s playing on someone’s back porch in each of those cities. The fans love it, and it’s obvious that he does too.

     It’s been ten years since Ronna Clark met Dierks Bentley for the first time in Nashville. She still remembers it vividly. Photo ops and autographs are fine, but a lasting impression made through a meet and greet is out of the ordinary, especially one that inspires you to devote yourself to his career milestones for ten years, 56 shows, and counting. Not only Dierks and DB Congress group shot-2did Dierks impress her, he equally impressed the other 777 members of his congress. They don’t get paychecks, free tickets, or special access to meet and greet opportunities. There aren’t any corporate sponsors, lobbyists, or billionaires lining the pockets of this congress. They met Dierks the man and discovered how talented he was. His genuineness sparked a passionate following. He earns their respect every day. He recognizes their efforts consistently and takes the time to thank them for each achievement, large or small. For their part, the DB Congress operates like a network. Their local representatives support Dierks’ interests in their respective states. They have cabinet members for the really big jobs that involve a collective effort and nationwide interests. Carrie Srebro is their chart reporter who keeps up with where Dierks’ songs are on the charts and what needs to be done to keep them moving up! Tara Joan does research and contributes to their blog. Possibly the longest fan club member, Stephanie Lanham, does graphics for the group and will be attending her 100th show next month! Their campaigns are all positive and all about promoting their president. No yard signs, nasty television ads, or robocalls from these folks. And when they set out to do something, it gets done! DIERKS BENTLEY DRUNK ON A PLANE Seriously Dierks, can we borrow your congress for awhile? Might be time for a DB Congress march on Washington and a little chillin’ on the back porch at The White House. I hear you’ve got a truck that would look just perfect in the driveway! We’d even let you reshoot the video for “Drunk On a Plane” on Air Force One. Picture that “rockin like a G6!” Consider this: we’ll change the address at The White House to 5-1-5-0 Pennsylvania Avenue. For your inauguration, we’ll host the largest DB concert ever on the National Mall (holds 1 million+) and we’ll all get a little “Sideways.” Just one request…B.Y.O.Congress.

From WAY North of NashvilleBev Miskus

Note: Anyone who joins Dierks Bentley’s fan club through http://www.dierks.com/ ???????????????????????????????automatically qualifies to be a member of http://www.dbcongress.com/. If you’re interested in promoting Dierks daily, email them at dbcongress@yahoo.com and let them know under what state to add your name. This makes you an official Representative in Dierks Bentley’s Congress! No expensive campaign or mudslinging required! In addition to their website, you can also connect with them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/DB-Congress/51994656451 and follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/dbcongress.

RISER is available through iTunes: HERE


Visit http://www.dierks.com/tour-dates.html for RISER TOUR and ticketing information.


Just named by Taste of Country the HOTTEST TOUR OF THE SUMMER!!

©2014Bev Miskus