CHRIS WEAVER BAND
Chris Weaver: A Fusion of Southern Rock, Blues, and Beyond
For nearly two decades, Chris Weaver has been a vibrant fixture in Nashville's music scene, blending southern rock, blues, country, and pop into a unique sound that resonates with audiences far and wide. His journey in music is marked by a distinctive style that's not quite typical of Nashville, characterized by a band sound that's often enhanced with horns and percussion, supporting his deeply soulful voice.
Early Influences and Musical Journey
Chris's musical roots can be traced back to a diverse array of influences. "The Beatles were my first love," he recalls, "followed by an eclectic mix of Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, and Bob Seger." While country music wasn't his primary focus, he holds a special appreciation for the classics, influenced by the likes of Willie Nelson and other icons of Texas country. These influences, along with the rich musical legacy of his father, who led a band for 25 years, have profoundly shaped Chris's artistic direction.
Collaborations and Songwriting
Chris's talent in songwriting has seen him collaborate with some of Nashville's top writers, including country hitmakers like Harley Allen, Stephony Smith, and Matt Rogers. His ability to weave stories and emotions into his songs has not only resonated with American audiences but has also found a special place in the hearts of music lovers in Brazil. His partnership with Brazilian stars Fernando e Sorocaba, particularly with the song 'California High,' has led to significant success and memorable performances in Brazil, showcasing his appeal as an American artist in international venues.
The Chris Weaver Podcast: A Look Back
In the past, Chris hosted a weekly podcast every Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT, where he explored a variety of topics ranging from music and sports to lifestyle. The podcast featured a diverse lineup of guests, including artists like Jerrod Niemann and Dustin Lynch, and sports personalities like Dave McGinnis and Brian Urlacher. This venture offered listeners a different perspective of Chris, connecting with them beyond music. While the podcast is currently on hiatus, Chris hopes to revive this engaging platform in the future.
Grafton, West Virginia, is not a country music town. It never really has been. It’s a rock and roll city. The eighties and nineties in this lakeside city were more like a continuous scene out of Fast Times At Ridgemont High than the country bumpkin, overly religious, constrictive backdrop of Footloose. Most of the youth in Grafton were listening to current alt-rock hits on the radio alongside classics like Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, and The Eagles. The restless mischief of Gen X reverberated through the teens of this quaint town.
Friday nights were where legends were made. The gridiron of the Grafton High School Bearcats was the stage where the rockstars of the Monday morning hallways were made. High fives all around for the effort the past weekend. An upward head nod that signaled a “job well done” to the recipient. After that game on Friday night, another legend was being made in the Claire Bee Fieldhouse. Youth gathered in the gym for a sock hop. Shoes were strewn alongside the bleachers. The socks were necessary so that street shoes, including Chuck Taylors, chunky heels, Reebok Pumps, and Air Jordans didn’t damage the new floor of the gym. What was the draw? The crowd had come to hear their classmate and friend sing some covers, with his brother and friend backing him up on drums and bass. At 17, Chris Weaver already had the air of a professional musician. Entertaining the crowd with covers of Mellencamp, The Beatles, Hootie, and The Blowfish, and too many others to count, the crowd could sense it: this guy was headed to Nashville.
The landscape of the 90s music scene, coupled with the influence of his father, Bob, and his best friend, Greg Ice, helped shape Chris into the artist he’s become. It would be an extreme simplification to call what he does” country.” The Seger-esque storytelling aspect of his roots is ever present in his music. The rock and roll that shaped him is on the stage in every show.
So where would one expect to find a West Virginia native who was baptized in rock and became a convert to a country infused with blues, country, and pop? Brazil, of course!
Weaver has become a staple of Nashville’s downtown, playing regular gigs at famed venues like The Stage On Broadway and the Tin Roof. At one of these gigs, a chance encounter with a Brazilian artist… well, the Brazilian artist’s cousin… led him on a wild and wonderful journey.
BB: Tell me about Brazil. How did a guy from Grafton end up on these massive stages in South America?
Weaver: Back in the day, I’d be playing at the Tin Roof and The Stage. There were the two best places in town to play, especially regularly, great gigs. I have been fortunate to do both for over 10 years in each venue. The stage offers the ability to be in front of people from all over the United States and all over the world who were influential in the music business and entertainment in general.
And so, in 2014, Sorocaba was in Nashville for a vacation, and he didn’t even come to the stage. Honestly, it was his cousin and a guy that worked for him. They were out late hanging out. Sorocaba had gone in for the night. They happened upon our show, and they started sending videos of the band and myself. He kept asking for them to take another one, and then he was like “Take another one,” then he told my bandmate, Nelson, that he needed to talk to me at the end of the night. And in this town, you get approached by so many people making offers. People that say they own bars, people that say they have music festivals, people that have this, that, and the other, you know, so you’re getting that all of the time. It makes it hard to believe the majority of it because they rarely follow through or they are too drunk to remember it the next day.
So when, when two people from Brazil, one of them who doesn’t speak English, come up to you and start telling you that their cousin is the Garth Brooks of Brazil, and showing you pictures of these rodeos and shows, you’re just, “OK, man, whatever… you know, you guys need another drink, and maybe it's time to go.” But I started talking to him and I gave him a couple of my CDs, the two albums that I had at the time, and he took them and we were supposed to meet up the next day or two. I was gonna show him around and they never contacted me. I never heard back from him for like maybe two months, right? Out of the blue, they got a hold of Jeff, my manager at the time, and said, “We want you to come down to Brazil.” So we thought, well, “We can do this. We may not come back, you know, this, this may be some sort of money plot, you know, who the hell knows.” But as it turns out, sure enough, Sorocaba ended up being the Garth Brooks of Brazil.
BB: Then you did a duet of your original song, California High, with Fernando & Sorocaba. What was it like to have these guys take to that song and then want to have a Portuguese version of it?
Weaver: Yeah, as soon as he heard that song, I’ve never seen him gravitate, as far as anything I’ve been a part of, like he did to that song, ever. We, at the time, full disclosure, we were in the middle of translating three number-one songs from Portuguese to English. So it was like, there was that happening on the one hand and we were recording that live in Brazil record on the other. And so, he wanted something to be able to go on there and perform with us.
BB: There is a video of one of your trips to Brazil where you perform the Fernando & Sorocaba song “Madri” in English (Madrid) with Fernando Zor. The setup is incredible. The band is set up on a stage in what appears to be a farming field with a huge crowd. You perform the song at what is called “golden hour,” according to my photo library. What was that experience like?
Weaver: Oh that was, that was probably the most beautiful day of my entire life. It was awesome.
BB: Any chance you’re going back to Brazil any time soon? It seems to mean a lot to you.
Weaver: Uh, next week, actually. We will be performing a few shows with them and a few on our own. I mean, honestly, all the Brazil stuff has been an experience that you just never would have dreamed up. You couldn’t have. I didn’t know this was something I wanted to do until I did it. It wasn’t even remotely on my radar. So as far as experience wise, it was one of those really cool things that was a true surprise, a true diamond in the rough, in the sense of, you know, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and you don’t know who this person was, and just all the things from the performances in front of thousands of people to rewriting songs from Portuguese into English and vice versa. The different artists and the connections we’ve made in a whole other country, I mean, that’s probably absolutely one of the highlights of my whole career.
BB: 2023 sees the 10-year anniversary of the American Dreamer album. Looking back on it, what are your reflections and takeaways from that project?
Weaver: Hm, the thing about it is, and this is hard to say, it is very much produced in comparison to the things like I’m trying to do now. The songs I’m recording now are really less produced and, just more about recording and putting them out without a ton of polish. That’s the new project we’re working on now. The thing about that record was just the experience of playing with all the musicians and because we had Josh Leo as the producer on it. Josh produced a lot of Alabama records, he produced Toto, he produced Timothy B Schmidt’s (Poco, Toto, The Eagles, Jimmy Buffet) record. So, that brought more musicians to the table. I was playing with Nir Z, who is one of the premier drummers in music. He played with Journey and John Mayer, a plethora of artists. And I got to play with some guys from The Doobie Brothers and all these other amazing people that played on this record. So that part was cool. But as far as the final product, to me, it was a little bit overproduced and I look at that and what people are doing now…I’d like to revisit some of these songs at some point in time. Re-record them to make them a little bit more raw, you know, which I think would fit today’s landscape.
BB: So what’s next?
Weaver: Here’s the thing and I don’t say this bragging: I’ve been really fortunate to write with some really killer writers who have had a lot of success. And so there are 40 really good songs that we’ve written and maybe 10 of them have been recorded to a place where I would just be like, “Yeah, that’s it”. It’s not gonna get better than that, at least not from my perspective. But, a lot of these songs, especially off of the Live and Brazil record, we’re gonna cut a lot of those tunes. World Ain’t Big Enough and Madrid have only been recorded live and don’t quite sound the way they need to sound.
I’m not really happy with a lot of the older recordings. I mean, especially Standing In Line because it was recorded 15 years ago and I had polyps back then. I was always sick or drunk or something and it just, yeah, some of those songs need to be redone as well.
BB: The American Dreamer album has a standout track in the aforementioned California High. When you perform this song, and on the recording, it’s a transportational experience. It’s one of those songs that when you listen to it, you’re in California. There are songs that do this exceptionally well. When you listen to The Wallflowers’ One Headlight it’s impossible not to see that story play out in your mind. Tom Cochran’s Life Is A Highway automatically puts you behind the wheel of an old convertible.
Weaver: That’s really awesome to hear. That’s what you hope to achieve when writing a song like that. You want to take the listener on a journey.
BB: You just put out the studio version of the single Circus as a duet with an artist named Jacob Bryant. This song was recorded on the Live In Brazil album. Tell me about this track and how it came to be.
Weaver: So, I wrote that song with Matt Rogers who is, well, I guess he’s no longer up and coming, since he just won a Grammy for Cody Johnson’s Til You Can’t. I actually gave him one of his first jobs. He moved around the same time as when I moved to Nashville and we started writing probably that far back. I wrote California High with him. Most of my songs were actually written with Matt and we were on a session together, at Sony and we were trying to think of a song. We were just kind of pitching back and forth ideas that we had, or whatever, and we weren’t really getting anywhere. And there was this picture of a circus on the wall and we were just like, you know, there’s a lot of parallels to being a musician and being in the circus. And so that is how that song came about, you know, we just wrote about a picture we saw on the wall.
Jacob Bryant and I have been friends for a long time and we had the same management at one point. Jeff, our manager at the time, really liked that song and wanted to make it into more of a rock song because he’s not a big horn fan. And the only time we’ve recorded Circus is on the live, and we knew we wanted to do a studio version. Bringing Jacob in for this just made sense. We wanted to reach each other’s fans and have wanted to do this for a while.
BB: Who was your biggest influence musically growing up in Grafton?
Weaver: Well, I mean, I’d say Dad was the biggest influence because he had a band that, when I was younger, was really going strong. I mean, they were playing all the weekends and all that kind of stuff. So, watching that, it made me wanna do it. And then having access to all the instruments, and the openness and support of my parents to play. Greg Ice would be the second one in the sense that, you know, because when he moved, here was this guy that could play guitar better than me and he knew way more songs than me. He really kind of pushed me to wanna learn how to play better and learn more tunes. As far as musically famous influences, I mean, it is so eclectic. All over the place.
BB: You mentioned a project earlier. So what’s next and what form does that take?
Weaver: Everything’s gonna be a single, there’s no albums anymore. It’ll just be single after single. So, we released the cover of Cocker’s version of With A Little Help From My Friends. Currently, Circus is out as a single. I’m really just releasing everything. This next one is an EDM song that I wrote for a Brazilian track.
I’m releasing everything because it just doesn’t matter anymore. For me, it’s more beneficial to release everything because you never know what might hit somebody or somewhere, you know? It’s like nobody’s doing that. I mean, you have to be in the top 1% to be able to put out a full-length record and that’s the truth.