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Josh Ward

Josh and Heather Ward have been a part of the Galleywinter family for years. Way before my time here, Heather and others from the “Tore Up From Floor Up” crowd would live out Pat Green’s life of a road trip weekend, show jumping across Texas with lukewarm beer and burritos in tow. During those adventures she met Josh, a quiet rodeo cowboy who picked a guitar now and again. The two would marry and start their life together with Josh scratching it out in the oilfields of West Texas while playing the occasional show. But we all know how dreams tug at you, and in Josh’s case it was music tugging and Heather pushing that convinced Ward to make a go of it full time.

It’s been thirteen years since that leap, and today you’ll still find Josh Ward banging around this scene. His music is as straight up the middle country as we have around here, in the same vein as Cody Johnson and Aaron Watson. When speaking with him, he’s simple to describe: a kind, sincere country boy who uses six strings to get to the point. If he isn’t on stage or at home with the family, he’s probably in a deer stand in the middle of nowhere. Both his media and stage presence are understated, devoid of antics or controversial Twitter feeds to garner attention. But the quiet cowboy left his comfort zone in late 2018 and decided to cast his net nationwide, pushing his latest single “Ain’t It Baby” to mainstream country radio.

We got to play 20 Questions with Josh to talk about his latest career move.

1. What was your motivation for making “Ain’t It Baby” a nationwide release?

We are just trying to reach different markets. Texas will always be home, I love playing here and we have a great fan base, but we want to expand by marketing to places up north and then go out and play those parts of the country. I just want to make sure we are getting our music everywhere we can.

2. What’s been the toughest part of that jump thus far?

Oh man, it’s expensive. <laughs> When you break into new territory, you just never know what to expect. You go into some places and sometimes it flops, but then there are nights that people are digging on our music. We’ll know more about how we’re doing when we start going back to places next year.

3. What drives you towards that straight up the middle country sound?

My sound is not intentional in the sense that “I want to sound THIS way,” it just comes out very traditional. I grew up listening to 90’s country, Merle Haggard and early George Strait. I also listened to lots of Daryle Singletary. Mark Chesnutt and Eddy Raven. All powerhouse guys that could deliver a ballad.

4. Most would say that today’s mainstream country radio lacks that traditional sound. How do you see yourself fitting in?

I’m not out to knock what the big machine is working on because they put out what they are being told to put out. I have lots of buddies in Nashville having to write stuff to just keep the lights on, but for us let’s just say that we aren’t rapping on records. People will come up and say “Man, I miss that sound.” So I hope we are bringing back something people want to hear but still staying up with the times.

5. Tell us about your rodeo days. Did you play music and write songs back then?

I rodeoed all through high school and even a little after that. I did it as long as I could until I had to go get a real job <laughs>. Some of the first people I played to were my rodeo buddies. I would pick around on the guitar and play them some Chris LeDoux. But I’ve been singing since I was four, my grandmother had me in the church choir.

6. So that “real job” you got when you quit the rodeo was in oil and gas?

Yeah, I’ve done about every job underneath the sun both on the rig side and the pipeline side. I got my education from turning a wrench. Life wasn’t easy but I always loved music and there was always a song there.

7. Oil and gas money can be good, so what made you take on music full time?

The oil field always has its up and downs. I’d do the weekend warrior thing, playing shows then get back to the oil fields during the week. Finally, my wife said, “{Music} is something you have to do, just jump off and go.”

8. So how did you get started?

I just started playing beer joints. I’ve played every honky tonk, beer joint, and dive from here to there. It’s just in the last couple of years that we’ve picked up some real traction. We’ve been on the bill with great acts like Aaron Watson, Cody Johnson, Reckless Kelly and Brandon Rhyder. It’s been a difficult road and we haven’t had any help from big labels or management companies.

9. When writing are you more comfortable doing the co-write thing or going it alone?

I’m a better co-writer. I don’t consider myself a lyrical genius and to me a great song deserves to be heard and not sit on a shelf. I’ve never been afraid to cut somebody’s song if it’s a good one.

10. Which song are you most proud of?

Josh Norman and I wrote “Hard Whiskey” together. That was fifteen years ago and it’s still one people love to hear. Ray Wylie Hubbard said it best, “If you’re gonna write a song, it had better be one that you’ll want to sing for the next 30 years.”

11. Do you still get nervous going into places worrying about whether or not people will be into the show?

That is every damn night <laughs>. If somebody tells you otherwise, they’re probably lying. When I’m there to entertain folks I’m as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I don’t want to let any fan down because I’ve killed myself to get them.

12. You and your wife used to hang out at Greenfest back in the day?

Yeah, she was one of the original Galleywinter members. When we first met, she and her friends would plan these road trip weekends and go see a bunch of shows. We hung out at Greenfest and at George’s Bar a few times.

13. Where do you call home base these days?

Montgomery, Texas

14-19. Word Association:

Cody Johnson – Wild child <laughs>.

Aaron Watson – Honky Tonk.

George Strait – The King

Merle Haggard – Great storyteller.

Kevin Fowler – Redneck Messiah.

Chris LeDoux – Greatest in the world.

20. Rapid Fire:

Favorite Country Song? Miami, My Amy – Keith Whitley.

Astros or Rangers? Astros.

Aggies or Longhorns? My wife says we have to say Aggies.

Whiskey or Beer? Whiskey.

Tex-Mex or BBQ? Tex-Mex.


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