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Casino Connection: Eli Young Band

One of country music's hottest bands is heading to Seneca Allegany

One of country music’s hottest bands will be making a stop at the Seneca Allegany Events Center for one show on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7pm.

The Eli Young Band, formed in Texas by four college friends - Mike Eli (lead vocalist), James Young (guitarist), Jon Jones (bassist) and Chris Thompson (drummer) - have been playing music together for 15 years and are happy with not only their musical success but with their personal lives as well.

“The dynamic of the EYB has changed a little bit over the past 15 years,” said Young when I caught up with him recently. “We’re all happily married and Jon and Mike each have a three-year-old and I have an 11-month-old son that rocks my world in a good way,” he added.

The band have toured with some of country music’s elite performers like Jake Owens, Toby Keith & Kenny Chesney as an opening act, and are looking forward to returning to the smaller, more intimate venues on this tour as the headliners.

“We like having fun with the audience, and playing at a casino allows us to do that in a way you can’t in an arena or stadium,” stated Young.

Having paid their dues, these guys are now enjoying their success with number one hit songs like “Crazy Girl”, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and “Drunk Last Night”.

Their hit “Crazy Girl” garnered them the win of the coveted Academy of Country Music’s Song of the Year Award in 2012, which we talk about in the following conversation.

The band has been described as a brotherhood, having come up the ranks together as opposed to an overnight sensation, which seems the norm in today’s music industry. I asked Young if that is what keeps them together where other bands don’t share the same path. “We started out as friends first and we’ve had every argument and every fight … we’ve been through everything together, and so now it is still the way it was back then … we’re friends first and the music thing is an added bonus.”

For ticket information visit www.senecacasinos.com and click on Seneca Allegany.

For more information on the Eli Young Band visit: www.eliyoungband.com.



HULICK: I believe you guys have played the Seneca Niagara venue before and this time around you will be playing the Seneca Allegany venue.

YOUNG: Yes! We love playing casinos; it’s always a good time.

HULICK: The Seneca Allegany property is located in what we call the “snow belt” area …

YOUNG: Awesome!

HULICK: (laughs) Do you guys ski? You’ll be close to Ellicottville, which is a beautiful village that has skiing.

YOUNG: Yes, we do! We don’t get a chance that often, but we love to ski! We’re all Texas boys so we’re not used to snow (laughs), but we would love to hit the slopes.

HULICK: Did you see the picture of the frozen car on the news near Buffalo?

YOUNG: I did! Remind me not to stand too close to the lake when we get there. That’s some crazy stuff right there!! Maybe you all are used to that, I don’t know. (laughs)

HULICK: (laughs) Your newest album, “10,000 Towns”, has gotten great reviews and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, was #5 on the Billboard 200 and captured the #1 spot on the iTunes Country Albums Chart when it was released. That’s a pretty good streak.

YOUNG: Well thank you. We were very excited about that record. We have a couple great songs on there … “Drunk Last Night” & “Dust”.  We’ve had a very blessed career.

HULICK: That album was actually the first time all four of you participated in writing some of the songs.

YOUNG: It was. We never write the same way and this one the four of us actually sat down together and wrote a couple of the songs. It was a whole new experience for us.

HULICK: Your first ACM (Academy of Country Music) Award was for the song “Crazy Girl” which won the Song of the Year Award in 2012, as well as the Song of the Year in 2011 on the Billboard Country Chart. I saw the ACM’s when they announced your name and you guys were so totally blown away!

YOUNG: We were! We were honestly, totally shocked! We’ve been doing this for the better part of 15 years now and the reaction you saw was totally honest … we were truly shocked. We started out as this little garage band from Texas that we started in college and kept beating down the doors in Nashville and Texas and anywhere that would have us, so getting that award was not only validation but very humbling and amazing.

HULICK: You are up for the ACM Award for Vocal Group of the Year in April. This is your third consecutive year you’ve been nominated isn’t it?

YOUNG: Yes! It’s always amazing to be nominated, as cliché as that sounds, but it really makes you feel like you are part of the club.

HULICK: Do you have any new projects in the works?

YOUNG: Yes, we are working on a new record. It will be our first full record in a year or so, so we are excited about putting out new music and doing what we do.

HULICK: Where were you when you first heard yourselves on the radio?

YOUNG: You know back in the day we used to get a lot of local love from growing up in Texas. The local stations would play our music, sometimes on a late Sunday night (laughs) … and I would say that was the first time we had one of our songs played on the radio. We knew it was coming so we all gathered our families and listened to it together. Later on, with “Crazy Girl”, we’d be driving wherever in the U.S. and it would come on and it’s a feeling that never gets old.

HULICK: Was there a point when you guys thought … we’ve made it … this is what we’ve been working toward and dreaming of?

YOUNG: There’s definitely been some “pinch me” moments in the band like playing the late night TV shows … that would be one, but I think we’ve always had the mindset of what we wanted to do next. We always said let’s keep doing this and take it as big as we can. We’ve kind of followed that mantra for the past 15 years. But … for my parents, I will tell you that they thought we really made it when we played on the Bachelor four or five years ago! (laughs)

HULICK: (laughs)

YOUNG: (laughs) Everybody in my family was like … you all made it now! You played on the Bachelor … you all is big time now! (laughs)

HULICK: (laughs) That’s funny!

YOUNG: (laughs) Of all the things we’ve done in our career, it was the Bachelor that …

HULICK: Sealed it for the family! (laughs)

YOUNG: (laughs) Yeah!!