Not of necessity, but out of personal nostalgic indulgence, I find that writing about Josh Weathers takes me back to a somewhat wild time in my life, when I slung drinks at the long-gone Berry Street dive the Moon Bar. I realized then what a talented performer Weathers was, whether he fronted a full band, horns and all, or sat on a chair leaning over his guitar into a mic all by his lonesome.
Weathers worked the regional circuit pretty hard in those days, but in 2014 he went on what he describes as a “hiatus,” in part due to burnout but also because he’d begun the process of adopting his daughter, Ruby, from India. She arrived in February of that year.
“I was playing six nights a week,” he said. “We started working from home, and our funds were substantial enough that I didn’t need the weekly residencies. I felt like my heart was being called in a different direction.”
His fans probably know how the rest of the story goes: Through Open Door Church in Burleson, he visited the village in southern India where his daughter was born.
Weathers and wife Kady Weathers ended up adopting four more kids, giving his first-born biological son three Indian-born sisters – Ruby, Pearl, and Teagan – and a brother, Justice, who was born in Midland. Over that time, Weathers was moved to a different calling: to give back to his daughter’s birthland.
“There was this plot of land [in India] that was going to cost $30,000,” he said. “I didn’t have that kind of money, so Kady says, ‘Well, why don’t you book 10 acoustic gigs and see if you can raise three grand at each of them?’ ”
And that’s exactly what Weathers did. And at the end of September, he and his family will travel to India to see the grand opening of the Hope Home, which, in its first phase, will house orphaned girls before adding a school to its campus.
If one believes in God’s perfect plan, that Weathers quit music to find his true calling before using music to make his true calling a reality, it sounds, well, pretty perfect. Yet his good intentions have not been without controversy.
Weathers and his band were asked to play the Armed Forces Ball as part of Donald Trump’s inaugural celebration in 2016. “I have my opinions,” he said. “I vote just like everyone should. I prayed about it, but I said yes without hesitation. I know people had a problem with it, but I don’t care. I’m not political. I serve Jesus.”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the cringe-inducing irony that building a home for orphaned and mistreated girls apparently involves playing for a president whose misogyny is well documented, but Weathers isn’t concerned with what people think. “People say a lot of bad stuff about” Trump, he said. “And my answer to that is, ‘Well, what was he like when you met him? Because he was real nice to me.’ ”
You can argue the rightness or wrongness about Weathers’ done deed all you want, but the upshot is that Hope Home is a reality. Moreover, his controversial performance also helped boost him back into gigging frequently again, as well as releasing a new album.
Recorded in early spring with Michael Howell at Legendary Sound Studio in Fort Worth, Wild Ones is Weathers’ fourth. It debuts on Saturday, when he and his band play at Billy Bob’s Texas, and it arrives a full decade after its predecessor, 2009’s Big Night in the City. It’s a pivot from Big Night’s Dap Kings-inspired rock and soul to a sound that leans on country. “Country is pretty much the only pop music that still has guitars these days,” Weathers said.
Even though he’s aiming for the country market, the first single (the title track) has more in common with Thin Lizzy’s “The Cowboy Song” than some Jason Aldean paean to drinking beers in a cornfield. When I heard it, I imagined getting stoked after hearing him play it on the Moon Bar’s stage. The way things keep turning out for Josh Weathers, maybe I’ll get to hear him play it in a stadium someday.
Josh Weathers album release show
8pm Sat at Billy Bob’s Texas, 2520 Rodeo Plaza, FW. $16. 817-624-7117.