Josh Weathers is ready for a change.
After 10 years in the band bearing his name, the singer-songwriter says his heart has gone other places.
What that means for the Josh Weathers Bands die-hard fan base is that, as of now, Fridays JWB show at Billy Bobs Texas will be the last for the foreseeable future.
The 30-year-old Weathers is quick to say the performance isnt necessarily a farewell, as it has been advertised, and he admits the reaction from anguished fans has been really humbling.
I would call it more ... like a see-ya-later, Weathers says. Im going to be doing some other things. ... Im still going to be performing every once in a while. Being able to play music is a blessing, and God only allows so many of us to be able to do that, so I would never neglect that blessing. I just want to do some different things, rather than grinding it out. Thats not where my heart is anymore.
Those other things include expanding his family (Weathers and his wife, Kady, who have a young son, are in the process of adopting a little girl from India), building their Advocare business and helping raise awareness of the Asante Choir, which is comprised of East African children.
Weathers says he, along with producer-musician Nick Choate, hopes to record the Asante Choir when the group travels to Texas next month.
My life has changed a lot in the last two years, he says. I want to use music for something different, more than entertainment. Ive been playing in a band at my church, and thats been really satisfying. ... I sat with the founder of Asante [Amon Munyaneza] and he changed my life. ... A lot of blessings can come from putting it down in one area. All my musical satisfactions are taken care of.
Another event causing Weathers to stop and take serious stock of his life, as it relates to making music, was his brush with fame last year, when a two-year-old clip of him covering Dolly Parton-by-way-of-Whitney Houstons I Will Always Love You at the Kessler Theater went viral. To date, the six-minute video has racked up more than 889,000 views on YouTube.
The ensuing attention fielding phone calls from producers for Ellen and Conan, and gaining notice from national media outlets like the Huffington Post was met not with euphoria, but ambivalence.
Weathers has long insisted on doing things his way, much to the consternation of outside observers, and his approach to this unexpected stroke of good fortune was no different.
Although some bands would kill for an opening like the one Weathers got (and, indeed, when I spoke with him for a 2011 profile, he told me "I want 'all right' to be a little bit better. I don't think you ever stop kicking at it"), he looked before he decided to leap.
I got a little bit of a taste of that next level, and that next level didnt taste so good, he says. It was what I was after forever and ever. When I finally got there, I was like, I dont want this; this is not for me. I love music so much, I feel like this is going to make me hate this. Thank you but no thank you; Ill go this way. Since going that way, the peace and the joy [Ive felt] its amazing.
Still, Weathers admits, to his bandmates Kevin Rennels, Jeff Dazey, Danny Ross and Sammy Boe the decision to turn down bigger opportunities was surprising.
It was kind of a shocker to the guys, he says. [They were like] I feel like weve been training for the Olympics and now we got here whats the deal? Theyve taken it really well. Were still buddies. I know theyre disappointed, but its just the way it is, I guess.
And, as they do every time they perform, the Josh Weathers Band is leaving it all on the stage.
Its most recent LP, Big Night in the City, was released in 2012, and according to Weathers, there arent any leftovers in the vault.
Its all pretty much out there, he says. There was one song that we recorded that we didnt release called Two Bottles. I dont know if Im going to release it because I dont really like the song, to be honest.
What he would like to do, at some future date, is get into the studio and record an acoustic album.
Ive never really gotten to do that, Weathers says. I want to do something good and heartfelt I already have the title for it: Songs for Asante.
There is no firm timetable for whatever comes next. Although hes closed the Josh Weathers Band Facebook page (and says the JWB website will be closing soon"), he has created a new Facebook page (facebook.com/joshweatherspage) to let people know what Im doing, he says.
So, Friday night, the Josh Weathers Band will take the stage one more time.
Weathers jokes that hell keep playing until they get the ol hook out, and sounds momentarily wistful talking about his bandmates musical chemistry.
To say that well never play together again, thats just silly, he says. I feel like the music we make together is really good. We had rehearsal last Thursday and hadnt played together in a couple months and it went off without a hitch When the five of us hit the downbeat, theres something electric about it.