Sept. 26--CASEY JAMES, WITH OPENING ACT Taylor Made, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday as part of the Buckwheat Festival at the Craig Civic Center in Kingwood. Ben Jones from the TV show "Dukes of Hazzard" will appear with Cooter's Garage Band on Saturday. Tickets for both shows are available by visiting buckwheatfest.com. Casey James concert tickets are also available at local BB&T and Clear Mountain bank branches. The Preston County Buckwheat Festival is held today-Sunday. Info: Contact Darla D. Kuhn, at firstname.lastname@example.org and the festival's Facebook page.
Casey James can't help himself. He yawns mid-answer during a phone interview.
The higher-decibel sound of his new material, by its nature, requires more from the former American Idol finalist than his last album.
"I love the first album. There's nothing wrong with it, but this make it look like weak sauce," said the guitarist and singer/songwriter.
"I was in the studio all day, up until midnight. It went absolutely amazing. ... I'm really jazzed about the direction I'm going.
"With the first record, all of the sudden I have this chance to have it in stores worldwide. And you don't want to screw that up. There's so much pressure. ... But now I'm at a different place in my career musically and lyrically. I'm taking more chances. If this is the last record I ever make, it's going to be the best."
While James is still in the midst of recording his sophomore release, attendees of the Buckwheat Festival in Kingwood will have a chance to hear some of his latest songs at his show at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Craig Civic Center.
"[The new songs] absolutely follow the path of the live show," he said. "It's a little bit heavier, rockier. A little bit more intense. I'm turning up the level of emotion."
From his experience growing up in a small Texas town, and being on the other side of the stage, James understands that gatherings such as the Buckwheat Festival, are made for the turned-up style he's leaning toward these days.
"My family would go see a rodeo at the fair grounds, and I wasn't there as much for the live music as hanging out with my friends," he said. "Yo u 're just out there to have a good time, and my job is to get people -- of all ages and walks of life -- to want to check me out, whether they came there to see me or not."
As show opener Taylor Made cut its musical teeth at West Virginia fairs and festivals, member Wendy Williams said the trio understands what James means.
Though the siblings just wrapped a more intimate acoustic show for a Wounded Warrior Walk in Beckley, she said for the Buckwheat Festival, the group "comes loud and in your face. It's a full band show."
She and her older brothers Brian and Greg Duckworth, grew up in a family with four other siblings and were the only ones in show choir. They also performed for no one in particular on their back porch in Taylor County.
"We knew we were doing well when the neighbors would yell for us to keep going," she said.
So, while some musicians try on a few other careers first, Williams said she always knew that being in front of a crowd was the ticket for her.
"I remember in high school and middle school, people would make fun of me and be like, 'Who do you think you are? Do you think you're Loretta Lynn?' I wanted to be. I wasn't insulted."
She and Brian played in a band together, eventually Greg came on board, and Taylor Made, first dubbed I-79, was born.
"I remember when we played at the Taylor County Fair," she said. "We were so excited. We thought that was the best thing in the world."
It's part of why -- as the trio is expanding its range both north and south, and searching for the perfect songs for another record, following the release of country music chart-topper "Taylor County Line" -- shows such as Friday's continue to be some of band's favorite gigs.
"I love it," Wi l l i a m s said. "I love getting out there. It's one of our favorite things to do."
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