The "Country & Cold Cans Tour" is like a backyard barbecue where everyone is invited.
It's an event that brings friends together, though they're all a little different, to have a good time. But instead of sitting in lawn chairs, attendees of the tour will be on their feet to watch performances from Dierks Bentley, Eli Young Band and Will Hoge. And instead of munching on hot dogs and hamburgers, concertgoers will leave with the taste of raw, rock-infused country music in their mouths.
Locals can join the party as all three bands take the stage at 7:30 p.m. today at the Ed Fry Arena in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana.
The Eli Young?Band is (from left) Jon Jones, bass; James Young, guitar; Mike Eli, vocals and guitar; and Chris Thompson, drums. The Eli Young Band will open for country superstar Dierks Bentley tonight.
Opener Will Hoge said the tour is like one big happy family.
"It's just three bands full of guys who all get on really well," he said, adding that he's played with members of Bentley's band before, and known the guys in Eli Young Band for a few years. "We kind of all come on stage with one another and play songs and cut up. It's a good show that we're really proud to be a part of."
Hoge has been in the business of making music for more than a decade, first with his band, Spoonful, and then starting a solo career in 2002. His seventh, self-produced studio album, "Number Seven," was released in September 2011, and draws from a variety of influences, including folk, rock and blues. Hoge said the core of his ability to win over fans of multiple genres boils down to making simple, honest music.
If you go
What: The "Country & Cold Cans Tour" featuring Dierks Bentley, Eli Young Band and Will Hoge
When: 7:30 p.m. today. Doors open at 6:30
Where: Ed Fry Arena, Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana
Tickets: $25 to $35, and may be purchased online at www.ComcastTIX.com, by dialing 800-298-4200, or at the Kovalchick Complex Box Office.
"I think that's the beauty of music, if you can really convey an emotion and make it transcend," Hoge said. "At least for me as a fan, the songs that I like run the gamut, too. The reason I like a rap song is because something in it touched me, whether it be the beat or the lyrics or whatever. Same thing with a country song, if it's a great story or a great vocal delivery. As long as you touch the core of somebody with what you're doing musically, I think it can transcend any of those genre barriers."
Hoge's music has not only resonated with his fans, but also with his tour mates. Eli Young Band's current single, "Even If It Breaks Your Heart," was written and released by Hoge three years ago, and tells the story of him growing up and wanting to be a musician.
"When I wrote it, it wasn't something I ever thought someone else would cut because it was way too personal," Hoge said. "When I found out that they'd done it, I was real flattered, and their version I think is great."
"They've done more with the song in three months than I've been able to do with it in three years as far as exposure goes. To stand on stage and hear 5,000 people singing it back to you, it gives you chills. It's amazing. I hope it's a huge song for them, and in turn, a huge song for me."
Eli Young Band is no stranger to putting out hit songs. Their previous single, "Crazy Girl," hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts and won song of the year at the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards.
James Young, guitarist for Eli Young Band, said what's kept them going since the band formed -when the members were students at North Texas State University in the late '90s - has been their friendship.
"We just kept at it," Young said. "We were four guys with the mission to take it as big as we could. I think when you have a band dynamic, we all push each other to keep going, especially in the beginning when times weren't the easiest as far as trying to make it. But we've had a gradual building process and a grassroots following. I like the way we did it. It wasn't instant success, but timing is everything, and here we are 12 years later."
Young said his band provides a high-energy show - as do the other acts on the tour.
"It's a little bit rockin', so we're not afraid to turn up the amplifiers and have a good time," he said. "It's the 'Country & Cold Cans' tour, so come have a cold one with us, because it's just a party."
Hoge said from the time the doors open, it's a "full show."
"It hearkens back to the great arena shows that I saw growing up, where you have this three-band bill where everybody is just different enough to keep you entertained," he said. "It's not just four hours of the same music over and over. It [has] a common thread that it's heartfelt and passionate, very driven music.
"It's certainly something I'd throw my money down on if it came to my town."
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.