DFW Music News

East Texas Country Group JB and the Moonshine Band Are Going Genre-less

In a surprising turn, JB Patterson, lead-singer for Tyler-based country band JB and the Moonshine Band, is wide awake and ready to chat when the phone rings at 9:30 a.m. on a recent weekday morning. Such early hours aren't usually kept by rising music stars. But as with so many other aspects of the group's overall outlook, Patterson isn't terribly concerned with a preconceived notion of normalcy.

"Shoot, I'm a working man and a father," Patterson says with an evident chuckle in his tone. "I couldn't sleep late if I wanted to. I've already taken my 4-year-old to school and changed the diaper of my 5-month-old."

Patterson, who's called the area around Tyler and Palestine home for almost 20 years, has also avoided the lure of a more conducive environment to "hitting it big" in favor of letting the air of his hometown fuel the ascent his group is currently enjoying as they prepare their follow up to 2012's insanely catchy, attention-grabbing sophomore LP, Beer for Breakfast.

"There's absolutely no scene here at all," Patterson says of his piney East Texas home. "When we started the band, we were encouraged to move to Austin or Nashville and for some people that works out. But for me, I would rather try to make something happen where nothing's really going on, instead of jumping into a crowded pool where so many are trying to do the same thing."

Indeed, the band tours primarily in Texas, but that hasn't kept it from making national waves. Sure, there are a couple of "Tex-centric" tunes, but it's clear the group isn't geographically shortsighted. With millions of views of the videos on their YouTube channel (powered by many fans discovering the clips on CMT.com first), along with more than respectable debuts on the iTunes country albums chart for their latest record, Patterson and crew are primed for the sort of Texas-to-mainstream success other bands such as Eli Young band have recently enjoyed. The regional radio hit "The Only Drug" is a great mix of slick production and edgy lyrics and delivery. The group's recent, touching single, "Black and White," features the first non-Pistol Annie's performance from the resplendent yet overshadowed Angaleena Presley, for even more goodness outside the norm for Texas country.

Some tracks in the band's catalog make the band an easy target for traditional country music fans to hate on, though. The cringe-worthy duo "Sticker Peck Out," (a tune from the band's debut LP, Ain't Going Back to Jail, that Patterson admits he wouldn't write at this point in his life) and "More Like My Dog" along with remixes of "I'm Down" and "Perfect Girl," basically recall any recent chart-topping single from Luke Bryan or Jason Aldean. Lest we forget, though, tricking things up and shaking off expectations of others is something Patterson is very into.

"Sometimes our sound or decisions might seem to go against the grain," he says. "We don't care much about fitting into a Texas country or a Nashville mold. We're trying to make our next record as genre-less as possible. Different songs will have different styles and we're not going to lump together 12 songs that purposely sound the same or specifically belong together."

It's one thing to sign to a label owned by a musical clown like Colt Ford and to buck other clichéd trends many Texas-based acts cling to, but a country band looking to produce a record that's void of a specific sonic style is another thing entirely. Such a bold claim has to be ultimately backed up in the final product, but Patterson does further clarify the group's philosophical intent as they direct the vibe of the next album into its final stages.

"We're experimenting with sounds we haven't recorded before," he says. "The gauge for me is whether the songs are something I'll want to listen to in my truck or not. We're making songs we want to hear and not whether or not other people will want to." He laughingly adds, "We're making this record pretty selfishly, I guess."

As with everything else regarding his group's plan, Patterson's aim is bigger than how they sound or where their fans are from. Indeed, his band's goal is evident in both the journey and the final destination equally.

"The more I listen to revolutionary albums from the Beatles, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson, I hear how they pushed their own envelope and stayed true to who they were without staying in a single box. That's what we want to do."

JB and the Moonshine Band perform Friday, March 21, at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth.

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Kelly Dearmore