Freedom Over Texas

Sports and Recreation

June 6, 2017

From: Freedom Over Texas

USAF Band of the West Concert Band

For the first time in Freedom Over Texas history, the premier show will kick off with the United States Air Force Band of the West. The Concert Band is a 45-member ensemble that represents the Air Force by performing for formal military ceremonies, educational clinics, and public concerts throughout the Southern United States. At every performance they offer a wide range of entertaining music to their audiences. The band's repertoire consists of music from the Renaissance through the present day, from symphonic band literature to Broadway musicals, and from Sousa marches to today's popular hits.

The members of the band are all highly skilled professionals coming from colleges and universities all over the nation to serve in the U. S. Air Force. As part of Air Education and Training Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the Band of the West is proud to represent the men and women of the United States Air Force. The Concert Band brings a uniquely motivating experience to military and civilian audiences throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida by combining pride in the Air Force story with a love for music and education.

Hunter Hayes

For Hunter Hayes, complacency is the enemy. After being nominated for a handful of GRAMMY Awards, snagging a collection of CMA’s and touring the world behind a pair of critically-acclaimed albums, it would be far too easy for the revered singer-songwriter and top-notch musician to rest on his laurels. But Hayes wants more. “I had to get in the mindset of ‘I’m starting over,’” the 25-year-old says boldly of a rigorous two-year process during which he wrote more than 100 songs; made a Nashville studio his personal playground and, most important for his development as a category-defying artist and musical innovator, flipped convention on its head. “I’m starting from scratch,” Hayes declares with equal parts excitement and nervous anticipation of the mindset behind cooking up some of the most bold, hook-heavy material of his career with a heavier emphasis on band-based arrangements and live drums. “It’s about who I am and where I’m going.”

The initial returns on Hayes’ focused pursuit of the bold and new are a trio of songs released direct to fans via his social media: “Yesterday’s Song,” “Amen,” and “Young Blood.” “It was so good for my soul,” the singer says of the no-holds-barred, loose atmosphere of writing, recording and cutting the new tracks with his trusted band. “It was all heart and soul and laying it all out on the table.” Written with Barry Dean and Martin Johnson and produced with Dann Huff, “Yesterday’s Song” is a sonically boisterous stunner; a rollicking, breakneck rock jam that, at its lyrical core, is a no-nonsense breakup song -- a kiss-off, Hayes says, that doubles as “a joyous celebration” of moving on and never looking back. “It’s like ‘I’m gone and going so fast you’ll never catch me!’” he says of the song’s flavor, adding that breakup songs like it, off “life-changing” albums like Rascal Flatts’ Me and My Gang, Adele’s 21 or John Mayer’s Continuum, have long been essential to his life.

“Amen” and “Young Blood” also mark exciting new territory for the singer. The former finds Hayes embracing his spiritual side without neglecting his big-throated pop melody, and is what the singer describes as “a lonely man’s prayer.” “It’s hoping you’ll find someone that completes your image of your future,” he says of “Amen.” “It was very personal for me,” he adds of a song he and his band road-tested this summer to rapturous reception. “It was a lesson in conviction and knowing how I felt about the song and how important it was to me to have it on the record.” “Young Blood” might very well be Hayes’ most full-throttle guitar assault yet, not to mention his most lyrically mature. The song, written with Solomon and Lauren Olds, details what Hayes calls “the spark and firework of a new exciting relationship” and finds Hayes embracing his reckless side. “It was a different thing for me to write about,” he says with laugh. “Letting your guard down for the first time when you’re so comfortable around somebody. There’s no way I would have written about that even a year ago.” The song was also entirely self-produced by the musician: “That was nerve-racking and scary,” he admits. “I’m so used to having Dann Huff in the room; I go off on my musical tangents, and I splatter paint all over the canvas musically, and he cleans up the mess. This time I couldn’t second-guess myself. It made me pay attention to the only things that mattered: ‘Does this feel good? Yes. Done.’”

Whereas previous albums like his Double Platinum-certified, self-titled 2011 debut and 2014’s Storyline were cut in relatively rapid succession, Hayes had the freedom this goround to explore every musical avenue of his intrigue. Initially moving out to the country and living at his friend’s house, he dove headfirst into the writing process. “I wanted the space, freedom and the time to make this new music,” he says. Soon after, he returned to Nashville and transformed a backyard studio into a funhouse laboratory of his own design: he set up instrumental stations he could hop back and forth between whenever inspiration struck. “I felt like a kid that had just been let into a giant toy store,” he says of a process he likens to assembling his earliest demos. “Every morning I walked in, flipped two switches, hit record and played. I knew there was nothing in my way.”

Hayes recognizes such increased hands-on creativity and a newfound wizened humility is essential for any top-notch artist. “I had to trust the people around me to tell me the truth,” he explains of the oft-brutal process of narrowing down his new songs to the most essential fare. “You can think your way through a lot of things,” Hayes concludes of his recent creative outburst that’s just beginning to reveal itself, “but the stuff that really comes from the heart is what’s distinct.”


Formed in the summer of 2015, DNCE first introduced themselves to audiences worldwide with the release of "Cake By The Ocean," their now 3x certified platinum-selling breakout smash.  Included on the group’s 2016 self-titled debut album [Republic Records], “Cake By The Ocean” entered the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became a hit at Top 40 radio, where it went on to become one of the most played songs of the year.  An international success, global consumption of the song is over 7 million adjusted singles, including nearly 550 million streams on Spotify worldwide. What's more, the companion music video has over 256 million views on VEVO.

Following up “Cake By The Ocean,” the gold-selling “Toothbrush” amassed over 68 million YouTube/VEVO views with an unforgettable music video starring supermodel Ashley Graham as well as achieving global consumption over 1 million. Moreover, it received widespread critical praise from the likes of Entertainment Weekly,  People, and Rolling Stone.  Their next release was for their single “Body Moves” starring model Charlotte McKinney which has over 25 million views.

Cementing them as one of 2016’s breakout acts, the band took home the win for “Best PUSH Artist” at the 2016 MTV European Music Awardsand “Best New Artist” at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards.  Recently, the band released their new single called “Kissing Strangers” featuring global superstar Nicki Minaj.

DNCE is frontman Joe Jonas, bassist & keyboardist Cole Whittle, guitarist JinJoo, and drummer Jack Lawless.

4:10 p.m. - Mango Punch

As evidenced not only by our clients’ reviews but also by distinctions like Wedding Wire’s “Couples’ Choice Award “, Mango Punch! has earned an impeccable reputation and a 5-of-5- star rating through a consistent delivery of exciting shows and reliable adherence to high standards of professionalism and excellence.

Six-time winner in the Houston press music awards, Mango Punch! has received praise from the press for the energy of their live shows and the quality of their recorded original music. Mango Punch! has performed in prominent concerts and events, like the pregame show of world-renowned Super Bowl XXXVIII and the inaugural ceremonies for Major Bill White and Major Annise Parker of Houston.

Walter Suhr, the band’s leader, has won a number of songwriting awards including among others:

First place winner: 9th annual Billboard Songwriting Contest (Latin Category);

First place winner: Carnavalero de Oro in Tenerife Spain;

Second place winner: Los Compositors (2010);

USA Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention(214);

John Lennon Songwriting Contest,  Third Place(2013),

Walter Suhr has written and produced commercial jingles including the Spanish campaign song for Hillary Clinton in 2008, and theme song for the Houston Texans and the University of St. Thomas. He also co-wrote and performed the national Christmas campaign for Wal-Mart “Navidad en Familia” for which he won an ADDY award.

Mango Punch! has shared the stage with a number of international artists including: Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Aerosmith, Beyoncé, Elvis Crespo, Kumbia Kings, Gloria Trevi and others. Mango Punch! was also chosen to perform at an intimate private gathering for Latin superstar Luis Miguel.

Their TV performances include shows for local stations of all the major Networks, including ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, Telemundo, Univision, Galavision and the Televisa in Mexico. The video of their song “Que me pongo” was made famous internationally through heavy rotation on HTV, MTVs and VVH1.

Mango Punch! has six CD’s of original music: “Mi sombrero y yo”, “Una castia blanca”, “Desayuno de amor”, “Que me pongo?, “Pop/Rock” and the self-titled “Mango Punch!”

In 2011, the City of Houston proclaimed Sept 28, 2011 as “Walter Suhr & Mango Punch!” Day.

Location: Dr Pepper Stage

6:10 p.m. - Vaudevylle

Country supergroup Vaudevylle began in Dallas, TX when lead singer Ashley Lee and her producer Jude Dyllan decided to collaborate on a project that is already paying major dividends. The two joined forces with Steven Wilson (Bass) and Billy Walker (drums), who they had played with at multiple shows around Texas, and created a powerhouse band.

The band then linked with music exec Jake McKim (Beyonce, Maddie & Tae) who then introduced the group to Nashville mega hit songwriter Ashley Gorley.  With a full length album in the making and production by Jude Dyllan, the group has written songs with heavy hitters Shane Stevens (Carrie Underwood/Lady Antebellum), Maddie Marlow (Maddie and Tae), Trey Bruce (Randy Travis/Carrie Underwood), Jerry Flowers (Sam Hunt), and many others.

Managing to create a buzz from its high-energy shows, Vaudevylle is making noise as it preps its debut album "Lullabies in Vaudevylle".

Location: Dr Pepper Stage

7:50 p.m. - Thundersoul Orchestra

From 1968 to 1977, Prof transformed Houston's Kashmere High School Stage Band into a world-renowned funk powerhouse.  During this time, Prof broke the race-barrier and status-quo by placing his students in the fiercely competitive arena of national high school stage band competitions. Opposite of the established, conservative tone of these gatherings, Prof encouraged the Kashmere Stage Band to embrace their own style, introducing elaborate funk arrangements and showmanship. In the face of tremendous odds, the band went on to win prestigious awards and perform across the United States, Japan, and Europe.

ThunderSOUL Orchestra, an offshoot of alumni from the Kashmere Stage Band which still exist today, chose to title their new release “528-0728” because this was Prof’s home phone number. As teenagers, members of the Kashmere Stage Band would call Prof to get answers for personal concerns; to which he would always give sound advice without a prejudice ear.

Nearly 40 years later, alumni of the Kashmere Stage Band reunited to play a tribute concert for their former teacher and dynamic bandleader. The group rehearsed in the very same room where they practiced as teenagers and performed for the current student body at the very school where they made history decades earlier.

The “ThunderSOUL” documentary film captures this event, produced by Jamie Foxxand released in 2010. The documentary allowed the music and experience of the Kashmere Stage Band to be shared with a wide, new audience.

With a strong focus on the transformative properties of music education, the group’s website reads: “ThunderSOUL Orchestra's mission is to educate, inform and enlighten educators, students and parents to the fact that dedication, commitment, focus and intent for our children’s Music and Fine Arts training is of most importance. We believe that the power of music can and does; improve lives, smash barriers, inspire youth, establish legacies and motivate toward excellence. We believe that by encouraging students to participate in Music and Fine Arts Programs along with their academic studies, we are developing not just excellent students, but interesting and talented members of society.”

Thanks to trumpeter Fernando Pullum, ThunderSOUL Orchestra has a special collaborative relationship with legendary band,Earth, Wind, & Fire. In addition to performing on “528-0728,” Pullum recently taught actor Don Cheadle to play trumpet for his role as Miles Davis in the biopic “Miles Ahead.” The “528-0728” project was also introduced to Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters Studio by Pullum. A passionate music education enthusiast and supporter himself, Browne donated studio time to further ThunderSOUL Orchestra’s mission to reach students with music.

Location: Dr Pepper Stage

4:05 p.m. - The Peterson Brothers

The Peterson Brothers possess a uniquely modern blend of blues, soul, and funk. Alex, 17, on bass and vocals, and Glenn Jr., 19, on guitar and lead vocals, have grown up playing together since they were young kids.

Rising stars in Austin, Texas, the Peterson Brothers hold a standing room only weekly residency at Austin’s famed music hall The Continental Club.

They have opened for the likes of Gary Clark Jr., Los Lonely Boys, the late B.B. King, Willie Nelson, and Lisa Marie Presley. They have also played with Buddy Guy, Michael Burks and many of Austin’s finest musicians. The Peterson Brothers have also gained the attention of the one and only Bootsy Collins, who has become a true mentor. Glenn and Alex are honing their chops daily, and are dazzling audiences playing gigs throughout the United States.

“The only thing missing from the Peterson Brothers Band is the word "amazing" at the front of the name.”

Location: Wells Fargo Stage

5:45 p.m. - Lil Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers

Few zydeco artists can claim a gig at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and host of Super Bowls, NCAA Football Championships and other well-known world renowned events. Nathan Williams Jr was blessed with the great opportunity of performing at the “Dome” for the prestigious 2013 Bayou Classic, the annual football showdown between Southern University and Grambling State University, this event draws more than 50,000 people to the Superdome. Lil Nate performed his original hit, “Go Hard or Go Home,” during the halftime show with the renowned Grambling State Marching Band. The show was a major feature for any artist, but big events have become business as usual for Lil Nate, an artist at the top of his zydeco game.

Lil Nate’s sound, experience and stage presence actually goes back to his childhood. At the age of 5, he was playing rubboard in his father’s legendary band, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, one of the top legendary Zydeco bands touring across the country. He moved on to the drums and then the accordion, finding in his father an excellent teacher and role model.

In 2002, at the age of 14, Lil Nate was a freshman at Lafayette’s Northside High School when he recorded his first CD with the Big Timers, “Zydeco Ballin.”  Lil Nate followed-up with  his second CD release “Doin’ It Big Time,” this disc gave birth to the radio hits, “That L’argent,” an English and Creole dance tune about the pitfalls of money. With fans calling him “The L’argent Man” and the “Baby Boy of Zydeco,” Lil Nate became one of the top attractions on the zydeco circuit. A continuous string of hits, like “Dead Wrong,” “How You Feel Tonight,” “Cuddle Up,” Don’t Hit Me Catin” and “Dead Wrong” have followed.

Along the way, he’s opened up for many talented artists such as Keith Sweat, Tank, New Edition, Dru Hill, and many more. He’s also performed the stages of Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, the Houston International Festival and numerous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festivals.

He’s shared the studio with triple- platinum R&B artist Cupid of “Cupid Shuffle”, Hip Hop artist Juvenile, Hip Hop artist Kevin Gates, Southern Soul artist Tucka, and many other musical greats in the industry.

Lil Nate has not just relied on his zydeco success, in 2008, he graduated with a degree is jazz studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This accomplishment allowed him to achieve a fragment of his future goal by becoming a music and vocals teacher.

A master of the single note and triple row accordion, Lil Nate continues to serve as an instructor in UL’s traditional music program, part of the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair in Traditional Music. He trains students in the Zydeco Ensemble, which finishes each semester with a public showcase of their new skills.

“Life is good,” quotes Lil Nathan. “I’m truly grateful for where I’ve been and the blessings to come. I don’t take any of my success for granted, if I couldn’t continue to perform or play zydeco anymore, I find peace in being blessed and knowing the impact I’ve made and the music I will leave behind.”

Location: Wells Fargo Stage

7:30 p.m. - The Jukebox

The Jukebox will feature a powerhouse of sound comprised from a mix of rhythm and blues, soul, pop, and funk music.  The stage will be hosted by KTSU 90.9FM Your Community Radio Station with Donna Franklin and DJ Chilly Bill Smith. The stellar list of performers include: Atlanta’s Grammy® Award Winner Regina Belle; Los Angeles recording artist Erin Stevenson; Houston’s own mesmerizing singer - Chris Walker with musical backing and production by Houston’s inspirational and ever popular Ernest Walker Band.

Location: Wells Fargo Stage

Date: July 4, 2017

Time: 4:00pm to 10:00pm

Location: Downtown

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