By Johnny Griffith
Success in the music industry is an equation that has many variables of which talent is but one. Who you know, who they know, timing, and good old fashioned luck can all influence the career trajectory of an artist. However, if you ask anyone who has enjoyed success for longer than the proverbial fifteen minutes, they will tell you that a good work ethic is crucial for longevity in the business.
Chris Colston, a local country artist from Lindale, has been putting in the time and the miles needed to gain exposure, experience, and fans from across the state and beyond. Colston, along with drummer Tony Foster, guitarist/vocalist Riley Foshee, and bassist Scott Phillips, has been working hard to craft a sound that gives a great chance for success. We had spoken to Chris a couple of years back and decided to catch back up to see how things were going since we last spoke:
Johnny: The last time we talked to you it was 2015, and you were starting to play more gigs out of the area. How far has the journey taken you from then to now in terms of where you are booking shows and the exposure you’ve gained out of the East Texas region?
Chris: Since we last talked, we have played venues in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas, and we currently have a show booked this summer in Arizona. We are gaining ground all over Texas, and we are very excited to be gaining ground in other areas too. Our new EP is being played by stations in Oklahoma and Missouri as well as many stations all across Texas, which is very exciting. When we played in Missouri last spring, people were singing along to Blacktop Gospel, which was cool! The radio station in Springfield had been spinning for several weeks before the show so fans were there and ready to hear it live.
Johnny: Along those lines, back in 2015 you had released your first album, and now in 2017, you’ve released an EP. How was that process and did you find it different from the first experience?
Chris: It took about 8 months to get the new EP finished, and then we waited until what we thought was the right time to release it, so it ended up being about a year long process from start to finish. My first album, “Guitar Playin Outlaw,” was recorded before I had a band, so we used some great studio musicians. This EP is different because it was recorded with my band and captures my sound. When folks listen to this EP, they are hearing what we sound like live, and that is what I like a lot; it’s real.
Johnny: How has the reception to the new release been so far?
Chris: So far, feedback has been great. It is getting a lot of exposure through Spotify. Stats from Spotify show that most of the listeners are in Houston, Dallas, and College Station, so that’s cool.
Johnny: So Lindale has a reputation for producing good musicians. Is there any feeling that you have a certain expectation to live up to due to that reputation?
Chris: Not really. I mean it’s great being from the same hometown of Miranda Lambert, but on the other hand, I’m just doing what I love, just like she did.
Johnny: Who was your biggest influence, musically, when you were first starting out?
Chris: Stoney Larue was a huge influence for sure. He is an incredible musician, songwriter, and vocalist. I play their “Live at Billy Bob’s” album all the time.
Johnny: East Texas has a strong singer/songwriter community. Do you often collaborate with other local writers and, if so, how has that process made you better at the craft?
Chris: I do think collaborating with other writers has made me a better writer, but I don’t just write with anyone. I try to keep my circle small, and I only write with a few people.
Johnny: Listening to your music, you mention your grandfather often. How important has your family been in you being where you are today, and where you want to get to with your music?
Chris: Family is everything and always will be. I have a very large family, and every single one of them supports what I do. I have learned what a blessing that is because I have met other artists who don’t have that, and it’s a struggle for them sometimes. When I made the decision early on that music is what I wanted to do with my life, my mom told me that I had chosen one of the most difficult jobs to pursue, but if that is where my heart was, then they would support me.
Johnny: Are there any of your shows coming up this year you’re more excited about than usual?
Chris: I am really looking forward to opening up for Randy Rogers in Lindale at Love and War in May. I have followed Randy’s music for years and really like his style. I am also looking forward to our show at the Alpine Country Blues Festival in the mountains of Alpine, Arizona in June.
Johnny: So it’s been two years since your last interview here, let’s catch up on the survey questions: Best live concert you’ve seen in the past two years?
Chris: Probably the Cameron Nelson and Cody Johnson concert at Cowboy’s in Tyler.
Johnny: Best hamburger you’ve had on the road?
Chris: The #2 from Whataburger all day long! And don’t forget the bacon.
Johnny: Most memorable gig you’ve performed the last two years?
Chris: It would have to be opening up for Shane Smith and the Saints to a sold out crowd at Love and War in Plano. The crowd was great.
Johnny: Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans?
Chris: Cowboys even though they can’t seem to catch a break.
Johnny: Best album you’ve bought the last two years?
Chris: “The Whippoorwill” by Blackberry Smoke.
Johnny: If you could play any show, anywhere, tonight, where would it be?
Chris: Billy Bob’s Texas.
To catch upcoming tour dates and the latest music, check out Chris Colston online:
- April 5th – Poor David’s Pub, Dallas
- April 6th – The Back Porch, Kilgore
- April 7th – Love and War Lindale w/Jason Boland, Lindale
- April 13th – Fat Jacks, Texarkana
- April 20th – White Elephant, Fort Worth Stockyards
- April 21st – Drunken Mule, Commerce with Drew Fish
- April 27th – The Woodshed, Ft Worth
- April 29th – Moore’s Store, Ben Wheeler
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Jason Herrin, Shooter Jennings, Dirty River Boys in Concert this Weekend
March 9th (8pm) Jason Herrin will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door. Cover is $7.
March 10th (8pm) – Shooter Jennings – Shooter Jennings is an American singer-songwriter, active mainly in the outlaw country music and Southern rock genres. He is the son of country music legend Waylon Jennings. Tickets range from $35 -$45. Liberty Hall is located at 103 E. Erwin St., Tyler. Tickets are available at libertytyler.com.
March 10th (8pm) – Dirty River Boys with Pushwater will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission.
March 16th (8pm) – Parker McCollum will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are available at wildtexastickets.com. Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Parker McCollum treats each song he writes with a painstaking level of dedication, reverence, respect and as he will readily admit, even a bit of obsession. His new album “Probably Wrong” follows the Austin-based performer’s ultimate goal is to reinvent himself with each record he makes. Tickets are $13-$20.
March 17th (8pm-1am) – St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre will take place at Click’s Live, 1946 ESE Loop 323, Tyler. The St. Patrick’s Day Metal Massacre features Edge of Misery, No Due Respect, and LowLife. Cover at the door. Doors open at 8pm.
March 22nd (7-10pm) – Zach Winters and Jason Barrows will perform at The Foundry Coffee House, 202 S. Broadway, Downtown Tyler. They will be performing songs from their new albums and changing every city they visit to the city of brotherly love. Early bird tickets are $10. Pre-sale ticket are $12. At the door tickets are $15. Doors at 7pm and music starts at 7:30pm. All ages are welcome. For more info go to zachwinters.com or jasonbarrows.com.
March 24th (8pm) – Bibeau Record Release Party & Concert – will be held at Click’s Live. Tickets are available at the door with proper ID.
March 25th (8pm) – Texas Sunday Returns with Brandon Rhyder at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $15 for general admission.
April 7th (9pm-1am) – Post Profit with Travis Christian will be at Garage Bar, 418 E. Erwin St., Downtown Tyler. There is a $5 cover.
April 7th (7pm) – Sam Riggs will be at Coach’s & Cowboys. Tickets are $15-$20 and available at wildtexastickets.com.
April 8th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Jason Boland & The Stragglers will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $20 for general admission.
April 12th (8pm) Wesley Pruitt will be at Moore’s Store in Ben Wheeler. Tickets are available at the door.
April 12th (7pm) – The Legendary Johnny Rodriguez in Concert – Texas Country Music Hall of Famer, Johnny Rodriguez, has had fifteen top-ten singles and 6 number-one hits since 1973. Some of Johnny’s classic hits include: “Pass Me By,” “You Always Come Back (To Hurting Me),” “Riding My Thumb To Mexico,” “That’s The Way Love Goes,” and “Just Get Up and Close The Door.” For tickets call (866)710-8942. Tickets start at $35.
April 15th (8pm) – Texas Sunday: Chris Knight will be at Love & War in Lindale. Tickets are available at outhousetickets.com. Tickets are $20 for general admission.
April 21st (8pm) – Mouse & The Traps – After more than 50 years together, Mouse & the Traps continue to be one of the best examples of “Texas Rock & Roll.” Formed in Tyler, Texas in 1965, Mouse, Nardo, Dave & Larry continue to give the public just what they want – great rock and roll. Whether you remember “Public Execution,” “Hit the Bricks,” or not, Mouse & The Traps has something for everyone. Tickets are $20-$25.
April 21st – Bowling For Soup at Clicks Live (8pm) – American pop-punk band Bowling For Soup emerged in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1994, but have since relocated to Denton Texas. Tickets are on sale at the door for $19, and may be purchased in advanced online for $15 at etix.com.
The Blacksmiths: Still Like That Old Time Rock & Roll
By Johnny Griffith
Bob Seger has a well known hit from the early 80’s called “Old Time Rock And Roll.” This song laments the lack of soul in the contemporary music of that time period and declares his intent to keep playing classic rock as a solution. I’ve never gotten the chance to meet Mr. Seger, but the closest thing we have here in East Texas is Chris Austin of the local classic rock band, The Blacksmiths. A native of Chapel Hill, Chris played drums on the drumline at Chapel Hill High School and went on to graduate from the Dallas Sound Lab with a degree in Audio Engineering and Sound Techniques. Blessed with parents that loved music and supported him in his endeavors early and often, Austin developed a love for classic rock through the sounds he heard coming from his parents’ collections and eventually started a band and is still playing to this day.
We managed to get a word in with Chris recently to find out more about The Blacksmiths
Johnny: What is the current lineup of the band? Any changes over the lifespan of the band?
Chris: The current lineup consists of myself on lead guitar and vocals, Joshua Stewart on drums, Angelo Lopez on bass/rhythm guitar/vocals, and Ben Carter on bass and vocals. Angelo and Ben have both been filling the shoes of bass player when available, but recently we decided to shake it up a bit and go with a 4 piece instead of 3 with Angelo on guitar as well…as our busy schedules finally allowed. The lineup has changed immensely over the years. I haphazardly started this project about 6 years ago with a couple of friends just messing around in my kitchen,,,which was the only place we had to set up all the equipment at the time…typical broke musicians haha. We eventually gained a keyboard and rhythm player and were a 5 piece band by the time we started playing shows. We decided to go back to a 3 piece after about a year for convenience and scheduling issues. Our drummer at the time had to move for work but introduced me to Joshua before doing so. Joshua had played with Angelo before with “Something Blue” and I met Ben after watching him play for “King Richard and the Bayou Boys” …and as they say, the rest was history.
Johnny: Who were some of your early musical influences?
Chris: My parents were very into music and had a plethora of vinyl records to dig through. I was turned on to The Doors, The Who, The Allman Bros, Deep Purple, Grand Funk Railroad, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, CCR, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, David Bowie…but most importantly Led Zeppelin. When I was 12 I received a cheap electric guitar and Led Zeppelin IV on cassette tape for Christmas and that changed everything..
Johnny: At what point was the decision made to be a primarily classic rock band? Have to say you guys are a bit younger than most of the other ones in the area.
Chris: That’s really the stuff I always enjoyed playing the most and felt most comfortable with, because those tunes were ingrained in me from a young age. When we first started, we tried a lot of 90’s stuff and some 80’s Metallica and Misfits which we were pretty decent at but learned pretty quickly what we had more fun with. Even though we’re a bit younger, I feel we were all entranced by that era of music growing up. We were very lucky to have Miss Robin Griffith from XLN on 5th street give us the chance to really explore our potential. We played every Sunday there for quite a while as the house band which gave us a lot of quick feedback from the crowd…and from the venue owner haha.
Johnny: Is there any specific period of classic rock you guys gravitate towards over others?
Chris: Not really, I’ve just personally loved the 70’s era most, but we cover the 60’s and 80’s as well. We do seem to cover a lot of Creedence Clearwater and The Doors though, if that says anything.
Johnny: Where did the band name come from?
Chris: The guys from the original lineup and I were hanging out after practice having a beer or two and trying to come up with something, After a length of time and much pondering, we looked around the room and noticed the main theme of what we were looking at…which was old, broken down, second hand, very junky equipment that I had been hoarding and frankensteining together with duct tape and zip ties for years. I’m really not sure how we didn’t shock or hurt ourselves but I remember us saying…”well, we sure know how to make something out of nothing…like a dang ole’ blacksmith” (speaking of the ramshackle but playable equipment). And just like that, it stuck.
Johnny: do you guys do any originals at this point or is it primarily covers?
Chris: I’ve had a couple of blues tunes in the works for a while but we’ve honestly been so busy playing shows and working full time day jobs or careers it’s been tough to find time, but I think this is our year to shine.
Johnny: You’ve been playing music in this area for a while now, do you have a favorite memory so far?
Chris: I’ve had a lot of really cool experiences along the way getting to play with some amazing musicians. I was the guitar player in a band with Jonathan Scott from Resident Hero for a while and grew up with the singer Ryan White. I also toured a bit as guitar player for Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue out of Austin. I’d have to say though, my favorite memory thus far is a recent one. Joshua and I were both taught drums by Nardo and I learned guitar from Larry Stanley. We had the opportunity to open for Mouse and the Traps for the New Years Eve party at Love and War in Lindale and man was it an experience! We got to open for the guys who taught us everything in a packed room. Too cool
Johnny: Where can people get their Blacksmiths fix over the next couple of months?
Chris: Our next scheduled gig is March 31st at Club 155 on Frankston highway…at least for the public. We do a lot of private parties, bike rallies, and events as well. But always keep an eye out for us at XLN on 5th street…that’s our main stomping ground
Johnny: What do The Blacksmiths have on the radar through the rest of the year?
Chris: We have a lot of new stuff planned for this year. A whole new set of songs, some killer merchandise and a new demo ep. Also, I’m told that you might see us opening for Mouse and the Traps again in the near future…so keep your eyes peeled
Johnny: What can a new listener expect to see at a Blacksmiths show?
Chris: A good ole’ Rock show with lots of classic favorite tunes played by guys that do the best they can to respect and represent the music for what it is….life and love
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance
March 24th – Tyler Azalea 10k, 5k, and Kids Run plus MORE!
Theatre Guide: March 15-18th, “The Lucky O’Learys” on Stage
The Apple Didn’t Fall Far From The Tree
DATE CHANGES!! April 2nd: Glass Rec. Center, Summer Camp Registration Open
The Skinny on Cooking at Home: The Cookbook Junkie
March 29th: Hop to the 17th Annual Twilight Easter Egg Hunt
2018 Azalea & Spring Flower Trails March 16th-April 1st
March 30th: Deana Carter in Concert at Liberty Hall
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