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El Paso, Texas - June 8, 2021 - American Country singer/songwriter, Cody Johnson, will headline the Fifth Annual Way Out West Country Music Festival (WOW Fest) to be held on Saturday, October2nd at Southwest University Park. El Paso’s country music festival will deliver an evening filled with several top country music acts from the great state of Texas. Opening acts will be announced throughout the summer!
After landing two releases in the Top 10 of Billboard’s country albums chart on his own CoJo label, and selling 74,000 tickets for a single show, Johnson earned recognition as the only unsigned artist in history to sell out NRG Stadium at Rodeo Houston. Johnson quickly became one of Texas’ most-sought-after talents and finally agreed to sign with a major label. Warner Music Nashville won a Music Row sweepstakes and enticed Johnson, who had turned down several major labels before, to join the team and take a shot at turning a concert success story into one with multimedia, national hit-making credibility.
Johnson’s passionate, rowdy concerts have already drawn comparisons to Garth Brooks and the music from his previous albums – inspired by ‘90s country foundations but built for the 21st century – has made him a familiar presence on Texas and Oklahoma red-dirt radio.
Johnson’s introductory Warner project, Ain’t Nothin’ to It, ups the ante. After writing the bulk of his previous material, he put out word in Nashville that he was open to songs from other sources and the results were astonishing. A-list writers – including Chris Stapleton, Radney Foster, and Brothers Osborne guitarist John Osborne – came to the table with songs that suited Johnson’s life and disposition. Music fans who are just now coming to the table will get a quick understanding of Johnson, from the rowdy troublemaker in the swampy “Doubt Me Now,” to the family man in the title track, to the self-penned ex-bull rider in “Dear Rodeo,” and the devoted Christian in “His Name Is Jesus.”
“I don’t sing nothing if you can’t see my soul,” Johnson says. “If it’s ‘Long Haired Country Boy,’ when you see me, you know I can walk that walk, but when we are playing a gospel song, I want you to know that I feel that too. I do want you to feel the sadness in ‘Husbands and Wives.’ It’s a weird thing to want to show your soul to people and still want privacy in your life.”
Johnson’s ability to show that soul – to dig into the ache of the sad songs and set a room in virtual flames with angry barn-burners – is tied directly to his insistence on channeling his energies into pieces that reflect his real-life experiences. By getting to the heart of those songs, his own emotions end up transferring to the listeners’ inner worlds. It is that connection that made him a self-sufficient musician even before the major-label infrastructure came calling. It is that engaged fan base that kept him from being a pushover when the record executives did knock.
“We had already created a multi-million-dollar organization, and that goes to the fans,” Johnson says. “Five hundred thousand or a million streams – I didn’t even know what a stream was when we started this thing. Seriously. But people have given me this opportunity. So, it was easy to say no, ‘cause I’ve got the CoJo Nation to fall back on.”
Backed by the Cody Johnson Band, he earned a reputation with the audience for leaving it all on stage. Inside the band, he developed a reputation for changing set lists on the fly to capture either his own mood or the vibe of the crowd. “Husbands And Wives,” for example, ended up on Ain’t Nothin’ to It after he channeled some short-term anxieties about a spat at home into an impromptu live version.
Along the way, Johnson found his identity, captured it in song, and refused to have it compromised by his vocation or the temptations that accompany it.
Now, one of country’s most-sought-after musicians is matched with one of Nashville’s most influential labels at his peak with a traditionally built sound, just as country music is experiencing a ‘90s revolution. Johnson was a hold out for all the right reasons and now he is part of a team again for all the right reasons.
“There’s that rodeo competitor in the back of my head that says, ‘I don’t want to ride a bull, I want to be a world champion bull rider,’” Johnson says. “All my heroes have taken this step and I’ve been given the opportunity with Warner to take this step on my own terms with a huge monster behind the machine that I’ve created. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Fans can purchase tickets to the Way Out West Country Music Festival starting today online at www.epwayoutwest.com or www.southwestuniversitypark.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Southwest University Park box office or by calling (915) 533-BASE.