By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace
This past Thursday evening on August 15th, 2019, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Josh Ward live. I have been a fan of his since his 2015 album Holding Me Together. I was a big fan of his 2018 release More Than I Deserve. I have been waiting for a long time to see him come through Florida. He opened for Cody Johnson in the state before, but this was the first date of his first true headlining run in the state. The crowd for the evening was somewhat small at around 50 – 75, but they showed up for some good Texas country music and that is what they got.
J.R. Ward opened the evening with a set of mostly original tunes. This was my first time seeing J.R. Ward and I was impressed. He played some songs I recognized from Spotify such as “90 Proof Sunrise” and “Turn Your Eyes To Jesus”. Tom Bennett backed him up on keys. J.R. mentioned that he’s not a usual feature in his live show but I thought Tom did a fine job on it. There were a couple of Waylon Jennings covers sprinkled in the originals. All in all, it was a good set and a good first impression. I hope to see more of J.R. Ward in the future.
Josh Ward wasted no time in kicking off his own set shortly after J.R. left the stage and everything was swapped out. He kicked the set off with a song from his Holding Me Together record “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely”. This track set the pace for a rockin’ night of good country music that did not disappoint. He followed that up with one of my favorites “Home Away From Home” from his More Than I Deserve album. Up next was another favorite in “Whiskey and Whitley”. This was one of many ballads throughout the night.
A bit later in the set he got to a couple more favorite songs of mine back to back. Both are highlights from the More Than I Deserve album. “All About Lovin’” was a rockin’ number for the ladies and he slowed it down a bit with “A Cowboy Can” which was well received by the live crowd. I must point out the pedal steel player whose name I missed during band introductions. He was a highlight throughout the evening and a joy to watch play.
Another highlight of the evening was the band’s live rendition of “The Devil Don’t Scare Me”. This is probably the best cut on the More Than I Deserve record and it’s chart performance shows that. Josh mentioned how proud he was of this song and pointed out that the guy who wrote it, Jason Hursey was in the crowd. This track is every bit as good live as it is on the record. This band does not disappoint.
The band closed out the night with two more favorites. First up was a rocking rendition of “Highway” from the Holding Me Together album and finally the band closed the night out with my favorite Josh Ward tracks in “Promises”. From the first song to the end, this band was on point and in the mood to bring some good Texas country tunes to this crowd. The crowd wasn’t as big as what they would expect in Texas, but they brought it and surely made the band feel like they were back in Texas with the responses they from the crowd.
Josh Ward is always on the road. He just wrapped up his first headlining run through Florida and Josh is constantly on the road. You can see his current tour dates at the band’s website. However, if you can’t make it to a live show, he did just release his own contribution to the Live At Billy Bob’s Texas series and I highly recommend you check it out.