Abbott plays annual JABFest concert with new faces

by: JAYCEE CALDWELL/Staff Writer

It did not take long for the Lonestar Amphitheater to overflow with country lovin’ folks on a Saturday afternoon.

The Josh Abbott Band returned to Lubbock on Sept. 19 for the 4th Annual JABFest. This time, he brought along special guests Aaron Watson, Kevin Fowler, The Rankin Twins, Hunter Hutchinson, and Flatland Cavalry. Each brought an intense amount of energy to the stage, making it impossible for the audience not to join in on the fun.

As I squeezed my way to the front of the stage, I caught a glimpse of people boot scootin’ to the music from Flatland Cavalry. This young group of artists killed the first performance of the night. Hunter Hutchinson followed with just as much energy, reeling the crowd in. More dancers took the floor, and the grassy hill surrounding the stage slowly began to be covered by people.

Aaron Watson performs for the audience at JABFest on Sept. 19 in Lubbock. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS


As I walked around enjoying the music, I noticed that people of all ages were present. There were college kids from Texas Tech making their entrance chanting “Raider Power.” Older folks were kicked back in folding chairs, or enjoying themselves a drink in the VIP section. There also were young’uns holding hands behind their parents, along for the ride. No matter the age, JABFest will never fail to entertain.

Next up were The Rankin Twins. I absolutely loved their performance. They blew me away with their abundance of energy and ease of getting the crowd involved. Just when I thought it could not get any better, they surprised the audience by giving us a taste of Shania Twain by singing her hit, “Man! I feel Like a Woman.” It was as though they had sprinkled some magic dust on the crowd that caused them to go wild. As of now, The Rankin Twins are my all-time favorite, female country duo.

Following their fantastic performance was Kevin Fowler. He and the band had no trouble keeping the energy up. Fowler kept the crowd involved by cracking some occasional jokes here and there. It was even better when those jokes were a transition relating to the next song he was about to sing. At this point, I did not think anything could beat this lively, enhanced performance.

Thanks to Aaron Watson and his band, I thought wrong. Besides Watson hooking the crowd with his great voice, nice smile, and sweet stories about his family, the band members were hard to take your eyes off of. Because of their facial expressions and body movement with their instruments, it was easy to tell their love for the music and how much fun it was to be a part of the band. I have never seen a band so energized and animated as a whole.

The atmosphere was filled with excitement when Abbott made an early appearance to sing “Lonely Lubbock Lights” with Aaron Watson. The two acted as best friends when they were on stage together. It meant just as much to the audience as it did to the artists.

It was now time to count down to the performance everyone had been waiting for. The grassy hill above was filled with no room to sit, stand, or hardly even walk. The floor no longer had any room for dancing, and people were pressed against the fence line near the stage. At this moment, there was proof as to why the concert was sold out.

Preston Wait of the Josh Abbott band impresses the crowd at JABFest on Sept. 19 in Lubbock. JAYCEE CALDWELL/PLAINSMAN PRESS

People screamed as the Josh Abbott Band made their way on stage. They wrapped the night up with fans’ favorite songs such as, “Touch,” “She’s Like Texas,” “Oh, Tonight,” and “FFA.” T-shirt cannons were fired, and three new songs (including a fan favorite, “Amnesia”) were presented. The last new song, “I Wasn’t That Drunk,” brought out a special guest, Carly Pearce. Her voice grabbed the attention of many and had a group of girls begging for her to make another appearance on stage.

I went to the concert thinking I would be too tired to stay until the end. However, thanks to all the amazing artists and their bands, I was electrified by the music. JABFest brought out my inner fan girl moments and my love for Texas Country Music. I had a blast and could imagine the rest of the crowd did as well, considering I never saw one frowning face.

Due to the amount of energy that was never lacking at any moment, I award JABFest 5 out of 5 stars.

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