Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson

Drew Cooper, Jade Jackson

Sat, October 6, 2018

Doors: 4:30 pm / Show: 6:00 pm

Mesa Amphitheatre

Mesa, AZ

Lawn: $22.50- $78 | $5.50 Increase day of show

This event is all ages

Tickets are $22.50, $27.50 & $78* | $5.50 increase day of show

*VIP includes:
Early Venue Access
VIP Bar separate from the rest of the crowd
Premium View of Stage

To RSVP to the official Facebook event click here.

Tickets are also available in person at the Mesa Amphitheatre Box Office or by calling 480-644-2560.


Cody Johnson
Cody Johnson
When Cody Johnson’ s Cowboy Like Me debuted in the Top 10 on the Billboard Country Albums chart in January 2014, jaws dropped in offices all over Nashville.

“I got a lot of ‘ Who is this kid?’” Johnson says with a laugh two years later. “I love that. That was a new horizon. And I’ m gonna work to make sure people know exactly who I am.” Johnson does that from the start in Gotta Be Me, a follow-up project that’ s loaded with solid country instrumentation and winsome melodies. In the first minute alone, he paints himself as a cowboy, raised on outlaw country, who drinks too much, fights too much and won’ t apologize for having an opinion. By the time the 14-track journey is over, he’ s shared his rodeo history in “The Only One I Know (Cowboy Life),” demonstrated his woman’ s influence in “With You I Am” and paid homage to his gospel heritage in “I Can’ t Even Walk.”

Johnson delivers it all with an uncanny confidence. His smoky baritone and ultra-Southern enunciations give him a voice as uniquely identifiable as country kingpins Jason Aldean or Tim McGraw. And he uses it to convey a Texas-proud swagger, a real-man charm and an unwavering honesty about who he is, where he comes from and where he hopes to go. “I’ m a God-fearin’ , hard-workin’ , beer-drinkin’ , fightin’ , lovin’ cowboy from Texas,” he grins. “That’ s about it.”

The hard-workin’ part is key. The other parts are easily found in his music. It’ s intense, focused, sincere. And when he takes the stage, there’ s a Garth-like conviction to his performances. Johnson inhabits the songs, recreates their emotions because they’ re so familiar. And he’ s willing to lay bare those emotions because he’ s always been willing to risk. He lives in the moment behind that microphone, the same way he rode bulls in an earlier day.

“That’ s a very, very rough sport to be in,” Johnson notes. “It’ s very, very rough on your body. It’ s very rough on your mind, and it’ s scary. I mean there’ s not a professional bull rider that won’ t tell you it’ s not scary. If it wasn’ t scary, we wouldn’ t do it.”Johnson pauses for just a beat. “I’ m kind of an adrenaline junkie.”Needing a fix is part of the attraction in both the rodeo and music. In the former, there’ s always another buckle to chase, another bull to conquer for eight seconds. In the latter, there’ s always another fan to win over, another song to write. And in some ways, Johnson has been chasing something illusory, indefinable, since he first arrived on planet Earth in Southeast Texas. Johnson grew up in tiny Sebastapol, an unincorporated community on the eastern shore of the Trinity River that’ s never exceeded 500 residents. Even today, it’ s more than 30 miles to the nearest
Walmart, in Huntsville, Texas, a town best known as the headquarters for the state’ s criminal justice department. It’ s a rough and tumble area, and it comes through in the music. Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Billy Joe Shaver – their songs were all essential to the local clubs, and Johnson was exposed to their mysterious allure even before he was old enough to get in. “You could hear the music from those bars across that lake,” he recalls. “I’ d always hear somebody singing ‘ Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound’ or something like that, and I always wondered what was going on across that water in those barrooms. It definitely intrigued me. I always wanted to go see what was on the other side of the tracks.”At a young age, Johnson was given the tools to eventually work in those clubs, though his official education was grounded in the church. His father played drums for their congregation, and that was likewise the first instrument that young Cody picked up. “Learning drums first taught me about feeling the song – feeling that dynamic of when it’ s supposed to be big and when it’ s supposed to be soft,” he says. “I think that still sticks with me as a songwriter and as a performer, and in turn it’ s helped me shape my band, because I know what I’ m looking for on every front.”Johnson learned guitar next, and when a teacher heard him playing an original song, he convinced Johnson to form a band with a few other students enrolled in the Future Farmers of America. Just a few months later, that first band finished runner-up in a Texas State FFA talent contest, creating an internal buzz that Johnson would continue to chase. He didn’ t necessarily think it would be a career. He briefly went to Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas, but traded that in to become a rodeo pro. Johnson did OK in that sport – the oversized belt buckle he wears today was won fair and square on the back of a bucking bull – but he broke a litany of bones: his right leg, his left arm, two ribs and his right collarbone. Cody started recording his own music during that phase of his life, beginning with Black And White Label, which featured his dad, Carl, on drums. Johnson sold the CDs, pressed on his own CoJo imprint, from his pickup. Eventually, Cody took a job at the prison to pay the bills. His band kept hitting the clubs on the weekend, with Johnson kept banging away on the guitar on Fridays and Saturdays while overseeing some very hardened convicts whose crimes had cut them off from humanity. “There’ s a lonely style of music that a lot of those guys listen to,” Johnson says. “I worked in the field for a while, and they sang old prison work songs. Some had kind of lost hope, and I can see now that you have to sing about people that don’ t have hope the same way you want to sing to give them hope.”

Meanwhile, his weekend crowds began to grow, and Johnson started landing hits on the Texas music charts. After the release of his third album, he won New Male Vocalist of the Year in the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards. The music thing started to look like maybe it could be a business, not just a sideline pursuit. He was stunned when his wife, Brandi, agreed. “It was a moment when I felt like I wasn’ t on my own anymore,” Johnson says. “To have my fiancée at the time say ‘ I’ m behind you, no matter what we have to do,’ it gave me a whole new level of confidence that some people might have thought I already had. But I didn’ t.”Even with her belief, the road wasn’ t easy. “I sacrificed, and I worked my tail,” he says. “I barely slept for years trying to make this thing happen, and me and my wife didn’ t have a lot of groceries. We didn’ t have a lot of things for a long time.”

Johnson reached a new creative plateau when he enlisted singer/songwriter Trent Willmon, who wrote Montgomery Gentry’ s “Lucky Man,” to produce an album in Nashville. That project, A Different Day, raised the bar on Johnson’ s barroom ambitions. The studio musicians he worked with challenged his own band. Johnson grew – and his bandmates grew – because they had to stretch themselves to live up to the album on the road. That pattern has continued through three projects as he continues to chase something illusory. “It’ s that always-never-good-enough kind of attitude that gives us that drive,”

Johnson says. When Cowboy Like Me broke onto the Billboard chart, it demonstrated that they had built an audience, but also gave them a little cache to push it even further. The band has broken beyond the red-dirt confines, drawing sizeable audiences in such far-flung destinations as California, Montana, Wisconsin and the Southeast, as Johnson wins over fans with his honest songs and on-stage ferocity. And Johnson’ s built up a Twitter following of 73,000 fans – impressive numbers for a guy who’ s marketed and developed his career without the aid of a major label.

He approached Gotta Be Me with two major objectives: to make yet another advance musically, and to provide an authentic self-portrait to that growing fan base still trying to figure out who this Cody Johnson guy really is. He worked with some of Nashville’ s best songwriters – including David Lee (“Hello World,”“19 Somethin'”), Terry McBride (“Play Something Country,”“I Keep On Loving You”) and Dan Couch (“Somethin' ‘ Bout A Truck,”“Hey Pretty Girl”) – while drawing on his own history, rich with its own compelling subject matter. “Every Scar” draws a life lesson from all those rodeo bruises and broken bones. “Half A Song”blends his barroom experiences with the melodic and rhythmic sensibilities he picked up at his daddy’ s feet. The fiddle-rich “Wild As You” embraces a freedom-loving woman whose sense of adventure is as
deep as Johnson’ s own. And that spacious gospel closer, featuring his parents on harmony, surrenders some of the rabble-rousing, adrenaline-raising pieces of his past into bigger spiritual hands. In essence, Gotta Be Me documents the life of a guy who’ s lived in the fast lane as a beer-drinkin’ , rodeo-ridin’ cowboy, but who’ s also seen just enough darkness to temper that wild streak. “You’ re only a couple bad decisions every day from screwing your whole life up,” he reasons. With a good woman behind him and a whole lot of promise in front of him, that’ s enough to keep Cody Johnson in check. The energy he put into his rebel years now goes into his work. He’ s not sure what he’ s chasing, but he knows it’ s paying off The “me” that Cody Johnson is becoming will continue to evolve, and it’ s his intent to share that journey in an honest, meaningful way. The same way that Haggard, Strait and Nelson did when they made their marks. When it’ s all said and done, the plan is mostly to reach the point where people are no longer asking “Who is this kid?”“I don’ t want to be a blemish on country music,” Cody Johnson says. “I don’ t want to be a dot. I’ d like to be a mark.”
Drew Cooper
Growing up in the Midwest gave Drew Cooper his down-home, backroads, country values that come across so clearly in his music. He may have grown up in Springfield, IL but Tucson, Arizona became his home away from home. Drew spent his college years at the University of Arizona, and while he has the strong presence of a linebacker, he was a cheerleader in college.

Drew has always had a strong can do attitude that doesn’t let anything stop him or get in his way. A self-taught guitar player, who never let the blisters on virgin fingertips slow him down. His lyrics are inspired by the sounds of his past, his strong love of his family, and the country he holds dear. Son, brother and most importantly, Daddy are all names bestowed upon Drew. The music that he writes shows that strong family bond and commitment to the country values he was raised with. You can feel his heart when you see his smile, and you can hear his relentless love of music in every chord he plays. He has carried the love of music with him throughout his entire life.

He grew up on Garth Brooks, Chris Ledoux, and Bruce Springsteen. At the age of 23 he was drawn to the red dirt scene by the serenades of Radney Foster, Stoney LaRue, Cross Candian Ragweed, and Pat Green who have all inspired the music he plays today.

On stage in front of 12 people or 15,000 people you will always catch Drew smiling, laughing and entertaining the crowd with a charisma that is second to none. He always knows how to put on the best show possible, tailored to the venue. One of his favorite things to do is to take a person who didn’t really like his music walking in to a show, and turn them into a lifelong fan. It’s a natural instinct for him. Drew has played festivals and major venues, but still loves playing his local dive bars, like the Cowpony where he played his first show. His passion for the art of music is inspiring just as much as the lyrics to his song, “Pictures on the wall.”

Cooper may be new to the red dirt scene, but he has already cut a path to where he wants to be. Opening for National acts and hanging with his fans are only the beginning for him. With the release of his EP “Hangovers and Heartaches” and up coming release ‘White Horse” Drew is carving a path for many to follow.
Jade Jackson
Jade Jackson
Within seconds after a guitar plays the intro to her song “Aden,” Jade Jackson’s voice, illuminated by experience, sings: “I grew up my father’s daughter. He said don’t take no shit from no one. You’ll never see me cry …”

And it’s with that voice and those lyrics that imply a thousand stories, this singer/songwriter hints at what she is capable of crafting, of how many tears she can stir in recounting her rambles to the far corners of her imagination, further even than she has actually travelled.

For Jackson has spent much of her time in a small California town, working in her parents’ restaurant, jotting down verses and picking out chords during breaks, then venturing eventually to more formal music studies in college before coming back home and startling listeners with the depth and intensity of her music.

Scheduled to release in May on Anti- Records, Gilded introduces her preternatural writing and raw, roots-rough sound. Surrounded by the close friends and gifted musicians that constitute her band, Jackson finds the perfect twist of phrase again and again, to express regret (“Let me walk over the bridges I’ve burned,” on the mournful “Bridges”), foreboding (“He kept his shiny blue gun underneath his dash/Deep inside she knew their lives were gonna crash,” a doomsday premonition set to a galloping beat and spaghetti-Western guitar on “Troubled End”) and freedom (“I feel my boot heels sink in quicksand, baby, every time we kiss,” she tells her baffled lover on “Motorcycle.” “Ah, understand, boy, it’s been fun, but my motorcycle only seats one.”)

How did Jackson develop this command so young? First, of course, she was born with talent, which her home life nurtured. Though neither parent was a musician, both of them — especially her father — listened constantly to a range of artists, from Johnny Cash and Hank Williams to The Smiths, The Cure and assorted punk outfits.

“There was always music at home,” Jackson remembers. “In fact, it weirded me out when I’d go to a friend’s house and we were supposed to be quiet.”

Just as important, she had a compelling reason to develop her talent from an early age.

“I was just bored!” she insists. “That’s why I started playing guitar. I’d grown up in a really small house in a small town. I shared a room with my brother and sister until I was 12. Then when I was 13 we moved about 30 miles away to Santa Margarita because my parents wanted to open a restaurant there. So there were more people around but I didn’t know anybody. That summer it was 118 degrees and we didn’t have air conditioning. I didn’t have any friends. My parents were kind of anti-technology, so I grew up without the Internet.”

So she found escape on her own. “Even before I picked up the guitar, my favorite thing was to tell stories. I was so in love with poetry: I would watch how people reacted when I read something I wrote … and then I’d put myself in their shoes and try to imagine how it felt to be them because I was kind of sheltered.”

She wrote prolifically — still does, in fact. “I couldn’t stop,” she admits. “I would write on whatever I could grab. If I was in the car, I’d write on a piece of trash. If there was no trash, I’d write on cardboard. In my junior year of high school, the local newspaper did a story that said ‘Jade Jackson writes a song every day!’ They had me count all the songs I’d written by then and I think I was up to 375.”

The numbers grew. Through hard work and a willingness to challenge herself with each new effort, the quality of the music grew too. At the same time, Jackson began thinking about music as possibly something more than a private escape. This epiphany dates back to the night she went to a concert for the first time without her parents; the headliner that night was one of her favorites, Social Distortion.

“When I watched Mike Ness walk onstage and felt the energy from the crowd, it ignited something in me,” Jackson says. “I wanted to be on that stage too. I never knew I wanted to perform until that day. That shifted all the gears in my life.”

She began by playing every Sunday at a coffee shop in Santa Margarita. “They had a guitar hanging on the wall, so I’d take it down, spread all my lyrics out on the floor, sit on the couch and read them from there,” she says, with a laugh. “But then this musician named Don Lampson saw me playing. He asked if I wanted to open for him. So I memorized four or five of my songs and for the first time in my life, sang through a microphone. I connected with that energy of performing. I loved it when I could make people feel emotions through my songs.”

Her following, like her catalog, grew steadily. By the time she’d completed high school, Jackson’s work had become impressive enough to persuade Cal Arts to accept her into its music program. There, she had her first formal music instruction as well as some more personal struggles and applied both to finessing her craft even further.

“When I was little and listening to Johnny Cash, his songs were so sad, kind of slow and melancholy,” she says. “I didn’t understand what the words meant but I understood how they made me feel. In college, when I had my first taste of real depression, all of a sudden his songs and Hank Williams’s stories came true. I was like, ‘Holy shit! Now I actually know what those words meant!’ It was like a circle completing itself.”

One more circle led Jackson to her most critical step forward, when she and Mike Ness began working together. Jackson’s mother and Ness’ wife had been friends in high school, which brought the two artists together. A short while after hearing her perform, he offered to mentor her. They assembled the band that’s been by her side since they came together. He agreed to produce Gilded as well.

“He gave me homework,” she points out. “He made me listen to Lucinda Williams’s Car Wheels On A Gravel Road and told me to listen only to that album for the next three or so months. That was the template of the album he wanted to create with me, so I picked from songs of mine that had a similar feel. If I didn’t have him, Gilded would have been a lot more scattered.”

That’s the key, right there. Gilded is a closed circuit, a masterwork of emotional honesty, of epic tales and intimate confessions. What’s scattered beyond, in songs long completed and many more yet to come, is a promise of more circles, more unique perspectives on hard lessons learned and too soon forgotten.

This is just the first you’ve heard from Jade Jackson. So much more lies ahead, for her and for us.
Venue Information:
Mesa Amphitheatre
263 North Center Street
Mesa, AZ, 85201
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