Christian Lopez Band
Saturday, April 1, 2017
with special guest Erick Willis
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Doors 7:00 PM / Showtime 8:00 PM
Pre-sales for all shows end at noon on the day of the show. Tickets are will call only, nonrefundable, but transferable to another person (for the same show).
Steeped in the musical roots of his West Virginia upbringing, Christian Lopez epitomizes the soul of a traditional Appalachian folk musician living in the heart, mind and body of a man not yet even 21 years old. On his debut full-length effort, Onward, the young artist emulates the sound produced by the region’s resident pickers and strummers and tackles themes of love, perseverance and coming of age.
Released in May 2015, Onward was produced by Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) at his Nashville-based Low Country Sound studio. “I love[d] working with Christian,” Cobb recently told Native Magazine. "It was kind of a no-brainer because Christian’s such a talent, and completely natural. I think he has a bit of Paul Simon in him.”
An ardent fan of both classic and contemporary artists from across the spectrum of rock, country and pop, Lopez never struggled with the direction his own music would take. “I've been most influenced by artists and bands that pushed through the barrier of what was popular to create the music they loved,” Lopez relates. “My goal was to do the same, and Dave was the perfect producer for the job. He makes music in such a raw, genuine way, and his production cuts straight to the bone. He understood exactly what I was going for, and I understood him.”
For Lopez, Onward is about the responsibilities and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of something you are driven to do. It’s about the yearning to put down roots, but being hopelessly addicted to the wanderlust of the road, seeking to escape the day-to-day for the promise of what tomorrow may bring. And be it the lyrical folk-rock of “Take You Away” and “The Man I Was Before,” the pedal steel-laced classic country strains of “Morning Rise” or the neo-Americana jangle of “Don’t Know How,” Lopez’s melding of influences into a sound identifiably his own throughout ONWARD is impressive.
Since the album’s release, Lopez and Onward have steadily garnered praise and attention in the media. Rolling Stone Country proclaimed him “Best Newcomer” at Americana Music Fest in Nashville in the fall of 2015, noting that Lopez “packed so much kinetic energy into his set, and sliced so many strings, that he had to finish on a borrowed guitar,” and concluding “…at his best, he's a maker of smart and slick country that holds a whole lot of promise and age-appropriate fun without pandering to any radio trends.” The outlet then later premiered a special live acoustic performance video of “Stay With You” in January of 2016.
Lopez also took to the nationally-syndicated public radio airwaves last fall, performing on the acclaimed, long-running NPR show Mountain Stage and later on the highly-regarded Music City Roots.
Of Onward, American Songwriter wrote that “it’s easy to see that Christian Lopez has a rich career ahead of him…[an] impressive first effort” while Stereo Subversion remarked that “it’s Lopez’s acoustic guitar and his soulful voice that pulls deeply on the heartstrings and shines brightest. …In a noisy realm of new bands and artists, Lopez could be a standout just based on his songwriting ability alone.” Alternate Root named Lopez one of its Top 25 artists in 2015, noted “There are guys twice Lopez’s age making records that are only half as good. Preternaturally wise and notably talented, this is a kid to watch.”
Raised in the small town of Martinsburg in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Lopez has been playing piano since he was five (introduced to it by his music teacher mom, a lover of opera and classical music) and guitar since the age of six, eventually playing in several local bands along the way before finally emerging to center stage to perform his own songs as the Christian Lopez Band. In 2014, Lopez would be declared the winner of the Belk Modern Music Showcase at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC after performing “Will I See You Again,” a song that he would later record for his debut EP, Pilot, and would also be included on Onward. The Belk award would also land the Christian Lopez Band on the retailer’s summer tour, which included dates at shows for both the Zac Brown Band and the Dave Matthews Band.
Touring incessantly since the release of Onward, Lopez and his band have most recently opened dates for American Aquarium, The Black Lillies, John Fullbright, Marty Stuart, Miranda Lambert, Sister Hazel, Steve Forbert, and Corey Smith. “I love touring. Not only does it make us a better band, it also makes us better people. We learn to connect with new fans, we experience new places, and appreciate the little things we miss and love when we're gone. I believe all of that will ultimately make me a better songwriter. Which leads me to my next point: Record #2 is in the works. We've got so much to share."
In a time when many artists are striving to find their identity, Erick Willis is slowly leaving his mark on the scene, with a personality that is true and not just a stage persona. Taking cues from the music he was raised on Erick is blending soulful melodic lyrics, with the deep groove of roots-rock and as his lyric says, "with some of the harder stuff." Showcasing a smooth voice with an excellent upper register, uniquely gravely at times, and always pleasant to the ear, Erick is bringing lots of soul to the mix, along with undeniably Texas inspired lyrics.
Getting his start at an early age, Erick has been no stranger to performing. Growing up in Henrietta, Erick spent countless Sunday's in church with his grandmother learning to love the craft of singing through the choir and holiday specials Erick found his passion for music. Whether it was singing in the choir, traveling to perform in the Texasville Opry, Johnny High's Country Music show, the Texas Gold Country Music Show, or simply talent shows, Erick never lost that drive. One might say Erick was born to perform and entertain and they would be right.
Always one to recognize where he came from, Erick credits his mother for much of his success. Being a single parent, Erick recognized the hard work and dedication his mother put into raising he and his sisters, and took away a strong work ethic and applied it to his craft. Erick's mother also helped influence his musical tastes though her immense love of great hard-rock groups as AC/DC, Whitesnake and Journey. Not only was the rock there, but Erick's grandfather, also a huge influence in his upbringing, introduced him to the golden age of country music.
Through a sold mix of musical styles, and a great supporting cast of family and friends, Erick began to form a genuinely unique ear for music and a solid grasp on life and how to live. As a freshman in high school, Erick took up guitar class and began to learn how to create his own blend of music. It really didn't take long for Erick to realize he had found his calling, and so began his journey as an independent artist. From open mic nights, to talent shows, to late night recordings at a friends home studio, Erick quickly found himself as a performer and not just a guy who could pick out a few cords.
Erick is poised to find success at a great level in this business. Though a unique approach to performing and writing, Erick will continue to be appreciated for many years to come, and be no stranger to the joy that can be found when a melody through six strings meets the power of emotion in true lyrics.
Passion and depth are what makes any good songwriter transition to the next level. Connecting with the audiences the ultimate key. Erick does that. The raw, heartfelt emotion in his delivery can convince even the harshest of critics.