Twenty years in, those who follow Jason Boland would unanimously agree that he and his band, The Stragglers, are putting out their best music to date.
Two decades is a long time, maybe not long enough to use the term “legend,” but no doubt Boland is forever etched into red dirt lore. While names like Tom Skinner, Bob Childers, Jimmy LaFave and The Red Dirt Rangers started the red dirt genre back in the '80s, Boland and his Stillwater, Oklahoma, friends Cody Canada, Mike McClure and Stoney LaRue are credited for bringing it south of the Red River and infiltrating Texas in the late '90s.
“It feels weird," Boland says about being a part of regional music history. "It’s a trip when you’ve been in this long. We’ve always had killer fans, but at the same time always been a little on the periphery. Ultimately we are so happy and fortunate to be able to do what we do.”
There is a purity and punch to Jason Boland and The Stragglers' sound that continue to get more potent with each album. While honky-tonk anthems “Pearl Snaps” and “Drinkin’ Song” put Boland on the map, the band’s latest offering, "Hard Times Are Relative," puts his songwriting prowess on full display. Underneath the traditional, trucker-country sound that’s always been there, there is subtle sophistication to the songwriting.
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“You always want to service the song and move to where it needs to go whether it’s happy, sad — whatever the emotion,” Boland explained.
Tunes like “Do You Remember When” and “Tattoo of a Bruise” keep listeners bathed in neon while tackling subjects that transcend booze and women. On the flip side, The Stragglers are always good for a rock ’n’ roll curveball or a tune that’s done tongue-in-cheek. “Dee Dee OD’d,” a tribute to The Ramones’ Dee Dee Ramone, fits both bills. The song relays the fate of Dee Dee and his bandmates with upbeat guitar riffs and dark but playful lyrics. "Abdicated throne/A shotgun blast alone/Countless times a flower killed the pain/So bounce to EDM/You're a sore like all your friends/Tech support's a valid claim to fame/So go go go-go dancers/Find a reason to believe/Three of 'em died of cancer.And Dee Dee OD’d."
“I never was good with numbers, but words are funny, and we’ve never been afraid to use them to poke fun of things,” Boland admits.
Tonight Jason Boland and The Stragglers play the Arlington Backyard, the central music pavilion at the new Texas Live! entertainment complex. Sitting just outside of the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park, the $250 million facility is Arlington’s home run swing at making the city one of the country’s top tourism and convention destinations. Texas Live! features a host of restaurants, shopping and in 2019, a flagship Loews hotel and conference center. Jason Boland and The Stragglers hit the stage at 8 p.m.