October 14, 2022 @ 7 pm
Texas singer-songwriter Joshua Ray Walker came out of the gate. His third long-player, See You Next Time, completes a trilogy beginning with his 2019 debut Wish You Were Here that marks him as one of country’s most exciting storytellers.
“I didn’t want to have that stigma of a concept album on my first releases,” Walker, sporting a cowboy hat, vest, and short-sleeve button-up, admits over Zoom backstage from the State Fair of Texas. The idea, revolving around a fictional honky tonk’s last night in business, was part of his initial pitch when he signed to his label, State Fair Records, in early 2018. They agreed not to publicize the concept until now. “We thought it’d be met with backlash, or put the albums in a certain context. We wanted each one to be weighed on its own merit,” he says.
Walker is, in many ways, a man out of time — and, for much of his life, out of place. With his 6XL frame, eyeglasses, and long, bleached mullet, he doesn’t fit the part of Nashville’s bland, bearded leading men. Throughout his youth in the poor Casa Linda neighborhood of Dallas, he moved schools frequently due to bullying, and never graduated. He started playing gigs as a teenager, yet didn’t release an album until he was almost 30.
“It took me a long time to build the confidence to perform the songs that I perform and to play and sing them the way that I sing them. I didn’t even think of myself as a singer five years ago,” he admits. Playing in rowdy beer joints wasn’t the place to be vulnerable. “I was there to be wallpaper and entertain people and sell beer.”
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