Written by Jim Bille
Mar 14, 2009 at 09:00 PM
ImageAnd now for something completely different.

Oscar winning actor Billy Bob Thornton is up to something that most people might not suspect. Along with his band The Boxmasters, Thornton has been somewhat quietly making a mark in the music business while some of us aren’t looking, listening or paying attention. That’s right; the same Billy Bob Thornton that we all love on the silver screen makes music and is just as serious about his singing as he is his acting. I had been aware of his musical dabbling for a while now and heard a few songs here and there and found most of his tunes at least interesting.  So with limited knowledge, much anticipation and some curiosity I headed down to House of Blues last Saturday night to see The Boxmasters.

The Boxmasters opened the show with a classic Wilburn Brothers hillbilly song called ‘Better by the Minute’ and barely came up for air after that giving up a killer show that gave the audience more then they probably bargained for. The seven piece band was red hot with four guitar players, six if you count the bass and steel guitar. Grammy award guitar player Brad Davis, who’s played with everyone from Earl Scruggs to David Lee Roth was on hand to augment the playing of Boxmaster originals J.D. Andrew and Mike Butler adding an extra wallop of good old kinda country pickin.

Hillbilly Rock might be the best way to describe the sound of The Boxmasters. Clad in tuxedos, the band displayed a hillbilly rat pack demeanor with a Branson, Missouri meets Las Vegas, Nevada type of delivery.  The music, much of which was penned by Thornton and company was really quite good. Serious and sometimes silly, the The Boxmasters set was undeniably impressive. ‘Build Your Own Prison’ and ‘The Poor House’ were two of the many songs that I think hit the mark for potential hit material.

Beer drinking and chain smoking most of the show, Thornton engaged the audience by singing maybe soon to be classics like ‘The Shit List’, ‘I’ll Give You a Ring When You Give Me Back My Balls’ and a totally unexpected jacked up version of the 1964 Chad and Jeremy hit ‘Yesterday’s Gone’.

Billy Bob took some time to reminisce about his Houston days when he mentioned that he had spent some time working at a heavy equipment rental company, renting backhoes and such off of FM1960. He also mentioned his days as a roadie with Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Being a roadie he was no doubt exposed to many things including what he described as a sociably unacceptable disease that he picked in Tulsa. This event evidently effected or infected him enough to write the song, ‘It only Hurts When I Pee’ which he performed while sitting on stage in front of the audience.

Unfortunately, I was limited to only a review pass and no photos were permitted but I can guarantee you he looked just like Billy Bob Thornton. I did manage to get a few shots at the after show party with BBT hanging out with some fans though and will say that he is a very gracious, friendly and down to earth individual as well as one hell of a band leader and entertainer to boot.

For those of you who missed out on the fun don’t worry you’ll get a second chance later this year to see the Boxmasters as they will be touring with Willie Nelson with a stop in Houston. Check it out