Texas Hill member from left are Adam Wakefield, Casey James and Craig Wayne Boyd. Jeff Fasano photo

This week, I’m bringing a new country trio to your attention, Texas Hill, which is made up of Adam Wakefield, Casey James and Craig Wayne Boyd. Now if some of those names are familiar it’s because they were involved with “American Idol” and “The Voice” — James with the former and Wakefield and Boyd with the latter appearing on Blake Sheldon’s team — all three also have their own solo careers. As a trio, they have proven the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts by releasing a strong debut album “Heaven Down Here” and going out on tour, which will bring them to Maine for a show at the Augusta Civic Center on May 11th. To that end, I was able to chat with the band, well, at least two of the members — Casey James and Craig Wayne Boyd — which brings to mind a song by the late Meat Loaf, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.” Anyway, a conference call was set up with the two singers in Nashville.

Q: Over all the years I’ve been doing this, the thing I like most is good vocal harmonies and you guys have that and then some.
James: Well, thank you.

Q: And as much as I enjoyed the “Heaven Down Here” album, it was “Texas Hill — Stabal Session (Live)” with the stripped-down presentation and the voices right up front, not to mention three new songs, that really sealed the deal for me.
Boyd: Oh, man, thank you!

Q: And I take it that that’s pretty much what folks can expect in your Augusta concert?
James: That’s pretty much exactly what we do when we do these acoustic shows. Even though we have our own careers that have been long, we’re still just starting out with Texas Hill and so a lot of these shows we do, the honest truth, we don’t really have the budget to bring the full band, so we’ll do those acoustic dates and that {“Live”} record is pretty much what those shows are like.

Q: Quite frankly, you don’t need the band, trust me; you do not need that band!
James and Boyd: (Laughter)

Q: (Chuckle) I mean, the band is nice for the extra fullness, textures and tones, but the songs and those harmonies are what are most important, and that’s the total package.
Boyd: I would honestly say, and I wouldn’t even say that it’s pridefully speaking, that I was watching some of the videos back from this past weekend and I honestly think that we’re at the point now that we sound better live right now than even that live recording that we did, and that’s crazy, but I really believe that.
James: I absolutely agree with that, Craig, I couldn’t agree more. Actually, I was going to say that, I didn’t want to talk down about the record but we are stronger now, we really are, no doubt. I mean, I’m still on a high from our last show, really, it may be one of the best shows I feel like I’ve ever been a part of, whether that be my solo career or with Texas Hill or with anybody, for that matter, I left that show feeling ecstatic.


Q: Sounds like Texas Hill is firing on all cylinders nowadays.
James: Well, we’re getting to know each other, personally as well as musically, better and better every day. The time that we’ve spent, I think, serves us well, it’s starting to become something even more than I ever thought it would be and it shows in the performance and it makes me proud (chuckle). And it’s hard to talk like that without sounding like an absolute, arrogant ass; but I think that shows that what we do on a day-to-day sense and our touring these days is just as strong if not stronger than what is one that record, and that makes me very, very proud and happy.

Q: And well you should be, it’s a good testament to your work ethic. Now I’m curious, have either of you guys been up to Maine before to perform?
Boyd: I have. I’ve been up there a couple of times; I believe the last time I was up there was on the top side of Maine with Josh Turner just a couple of years ago.
James: I’ve also been up that way and I’ve always enjoyed it. Thankfully I’ve never been up there in the midst of a snowstorm, but I’ve missed a couple of them, just barely. I love it up there: I love the food, I love the beauty of it, but I’m not a huge fan of the cold because I’m from Texas, but I do love visiting, it’s a beautiful place.
Boyd: I’m excited about being back up there. With social media nowadays you’re not receiving letters but you get a lot of messages and people who became fans have been asking for us to come up that way. I was excited to see some of those hard-core fans that are now going to be able to come out to the show again, and this time I’m there with my brothers and that’s even cooler.
James: Mimicking what Craig just said, it’ll just be great to get up that way. I don’t know if we collectively have been up there as Texas Hill. Have we, Craig? I don’t think we have.
Boyd: No, we haven’t. I don’t think we’ve been passed Pennsylvania yet.
James: So this will be a first for us to get up that way. I’m actually very excited, like Craig said, to get in front of those hard-core fans — people who have been listening to the record and folks who’ve been showing support for us all along. It’ll be great to be up in that direction and put on a good show for everybody who shows up.

Q: Now, are you guys thinking about the follow-up record to “Heaven Down Here”?
Boyd: We’ve been down in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, writing just last week.

Q: That’s a good sign!
James: We try to stay constantly writing so that we’re adding to the pile of tunes we can pick from. We write together and by ourselves and with other people, so we’re definitely working towards the next record.

Q: What can folks expect from your show up in Augusta?
James: Craig, you want this one?
Boyd: Yes, sure! They can expect a lot of harmonies because that’s our bread-and-butter, that’s what we do. And I like to even think of it this way: because we’re three front guys that are used to controlling a show of their own, it becomes almost like watching the Rat Pack in a modern version. We try to make fun of each other and if there’s anything funny that happens before the show, it’s going to be brought out by Adam, probably. (Laughter from both James and Boyd). So, it’s almost a cross between a comedic show and, hopefully, a thoroughly entertaining music show for them, too.
James: I couldn’t agree more with that he just said, it’s truly a variety show. We hear back from people that they had a great time, we interact with each other and we interact with the crowd. I like to believe that it’s just a fun time but it’s also very personal, I think we really make a connection with the people that we play for.

Q: Speaking of those people, is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Boyd: I would love for them to go check out the music ahead of time and check out all of the extra stuff we’ve got out there available because it really all ties in together.
James: I would like to say, “Show up, please!” (Chuckle) I think that anyone who reads about music and is passionate about it will really enjoy our show. So if you’re reading this article, come out and that would mean the world to all of us!”

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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