Texas rockers Justin Ross Band bring hybrid sound to Cape Girardeau for two shows

Friday, October 9, 2009

What do the members of the Justin Ross Band from Fort Worth, Texas, do when they aren't practicing or brewing their own beer?

They hit the road to perform across the nation. Back in Cape Girardeau for the second time this year, the band is performing Saturday at Breakaway's with the Tone Def All-Stars and Sunday at Buckner Brewing Co. for a solo show.

Guitarist and lead vocalist Justin Ross said after the group's performance at The Show -- an all ages concert in April at the Arena Building -- he told his band mates, "we got to go back."

"We were up there for three days, and we had a blast. I don't care if it's a 10-hour drive. Here we are," he said. "I think we're more pumped about it than any other show."

It may seem like a trek for some, but Ross is simply pursuing his lifelong passion of singing and playing guitar professionally. His mother was a country music singer; his father was a blues musician, and Ross said he was "right in the middle of it all." When he was 6 years old, Ross was singing in talent shows, and by age 8 he was playing classical guitar.

"You get to a point in your life where you say, 'I want to play rock 'n' roll,' and [my parents] wanted me to play country," he said. "It seemed that I got into everything but the music they liked."

Ross's love for rock 'n' roll never faded. In 2001, he started the rock band SOCOE in Oklahoma City. When the band broke up, Ross moved back to Texas where he started performing as a solo act. The addition of Todd Carroll on drums, Darren Carbone on lead guitar and Denver Green on bass formed the Justin Ross Band. Together, Ross said, they play "everything from dirty south blues to country to rock, soul, pop and even funk.

"It's all there, and everything is really high energy. We try to make each show, a show. You're not just hearing a band fumble through songs."

The Justin Ross Band has been honored regionally and nationally. In 2006, the group took sixth place at the Emergenza International Music Festival in Los Angeles. One year later, the band was awarded top honors at the Emergenza Final in Dallas, and took second place at the national final in LA.

"We knew at that point we were doing something right," Ross said. "The drummer also got best drummer in the nation, and I got best vocals. That was the moment that we were all like, 'wow.' At that time we only had about 14 original songs. To get up there and do that, we were just blown out of the water."

Now, the Justin Ross Band has more than 50 original songs Ross said he hopes evoke the same energy from concertgoers as the cover songs do.

"A lot of songwriters get stuck in this groove where they are always writing about their life and what's happening to them. I like to put myself in somebody else's shoes," he said. "We don't just talk about Joe, his dog and his beat-up truck. Every song has a major meaning."

One feeling Ross hopes listeners walk away with is freedom.

"When I say being free, I want them to feel like they are part of the song or the song is part of them. Whether you're in the car listening to the CD or at a show, I want you to feel like the music is kind of carrying you at that moment."

Ross said that both CDs, "SeventyFive" and "Modern Day Outlaw," as well as the old SOCOE album (of which they have about 50 left) will be available at Pmac Music. The three albums, T-shirts and hats, can also be bought at this weekend's performances at Breakaways and Buckner's.

"We try to work as hard as we can on stage to entertain the crowd and hope to give Missouri the same thing," Ross said. "It's been one hell of a ride so far."

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: The Justin Ross Band from Fort Worth, Texas

WHEN/WHERE: 9 p.m. Saturday at Breakaway's for $5; 8 p.m. Sunday at Buckner Brewing Co. for $3

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