I met these country boys last year at a Lago del Pino music event. I thought, "Here we go again, Texas Country. Not that I don't like Texas Country mind you, I just feel everybody has rode that horse too many times today and it's a bit tired. I had to eat my thoughts with this band though. If anything, these guys take it to the next level. You could probably call it "Rockin' Texas Country."

The energy these guys bring to the stage is amazing, to say the least. When these boys take the stage, hold on to the front pew cause you are in for a high energy rockin' country show, the kind you have not seen since Outlaw Country ran through these parts.

It was the summer of 2011 when I first heard rumors of this band and their talent from friends of mine in Bullard out by the KE Bushman's venue. My friends John and Annecye Beasley, of Camp Davis Stone yard, were trying to get me to come out and take a listen. I'm so glad I did. They were great. I hounded them like a dog until I finally got them to play downtown Tyler at Jake's last weekend. They rocked the packed roof and nobody wanted them to go home then. They really do put on an amazing show.

They have grown so popular these last few years, opening for bands such as, Whiskey Myers, Kevin Fowler, Bart Crow, Roger Creager and other well known groups. They are starting to do some long road tours but manage to still get back every other weekend and play a local club in Longview, Kilgore or Tyler.

It all started back in 2011 when friends Max McRuiz and Cody Wayne were playing acoustic shows around Nacogdoches separately. They decided to get together and create something new called Westbound 21. Little did they know at that time how fast this would take off. Max was studying at SFA at the time and talked his college friend Ronnie Godfrey, from Longview, into playing drums for them. Ronnie and Max were working on a music degree at the time. It was a good fit but one thing was missing. They needed to add a BASS player. Through some friends they were introduced to Texas A&M student Lyndsey Torrez who was thumpin' strings around College Station. Max eventually left the band to start his ministry as a Gospel Artist. The band was sad to see him go but they understood his calling.

Everyone in the band is multi-talented and can play several instruments. This is very unique when writing and recording music. They push each other until they acquire the best takes on songs. They have recorded many of their own songs out at 333 Studios in Bullard with legendary engineer Mike Hersh.

Some of their music heroes are Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Keith Gattis, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings. You can hear a blend of them in their songs. When they write music now on the road, they write about the experiences in bars, with waitresses, at rodeos, and dreaming of taking their band all across America.

They play at festivals, dancehalls and anywhere else people want to hear original music. Cody said, "The music business is tough but you need an understanding of the business. Money and fame do not come overnight. You have to be yourself and if the crowd appreciates you for you, then you have found success.

You can find them playing April 5 in Kilgore at the Denim and Diamonds Benefit, April 12 in Nacogdoches at Banita Creek Hall with Whiskey Myers, April 19 in Palestine at Outlaw Country and April 26 in Bossier City at CMT Crossroads.

Check them out online on their Facebook page or visit www.westbound21.com.

If you are looking to book this band, you will need to contact band manager Slade Williams at 903-399-8732

Support local music by checking out Westbound 21 and let them know "The Godfather sent ya!"

Jimmy Arber is the owner of Salon Verve. If there's something happening in Downtown Tyler, you can count on him being involved somehow, earning him the title of "The Godfather of Downtown."





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