East Texas native and rising country music star Cody Wayne will return to Kilgore for a concert Saturday, Sept. 15 at The Back Porch.
Wayne has been busy this year. He and his band picked up “Entertainer of the Year” and “Band of the Year” awards at the Big Star Music Awards in August and Wayne brought home the “New Male Vocalist of the Year” award at the 2018 Texas Regional Radio Annual Music Awards in March.
In between winning awards, Wayne and his band have been hard at work in the studio laying down tracks for their first full-length album. It’s slated for release in January 2019 but the single “Good Ole’ Country Song” is available now.
Wayne is looking forward to bringing both new and old tunes to the stage in his old stomping grounds.
“It’s been a really good place for us,” the musician said of Kilgore. “It’s kind of our hometown, where we can come back and let loose and have fun.”
Raised in Leverett’s Chapel and schooled in New London, Wayne was looking for a life away from East Texas when he joined the Marines. It was during his time in the armed forces when Wayne began playing music while stationed in Iwakumi, Japan.
Only a short time later, his musical pursuits turned into a full-time passion and he was as surprised as anyone when fans and awards committees began to take notice.
“I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to think about it!” he said, reflecting on the string of awards he’s won this year. “I look back and think ‘are they listening to the same thing I’m listening to?’ Is this real? It’s unbelievable, everything that goes along with it. I’m just very thankful that people like it enough to vote on it. I’m very thankful and very humbled.”
Wayne is particularly excited about playing in Kilgore because he knows the audiences here appreciate a good show. For him, putting on a good show is a number-one priority.
“As far as the entertainer side of it goes, I’m not one to stand behind the microphone. I like to interact with people and see how they feel about things. If they’re not having fun, I’m failing at my job. I’m there to host the party. If they’re having fun, if the venue is making money, if for those three hours I can make people forget about whatever is bothering them, my job is done,” Wayne said.
He may be rising on the charts and in the hearts of his fans but Wayne still finds joy in the process of crafting a song from an idea to a finished production.
“I’m actually in Nashville right now, songwriting with people and working on the next album to come out,” he said. “It’s been a process. It’s great to see a song that I have written sitting at my kitchen table or driving down the road and kind of playing around with it, then taking it to the studio and see it come to life, to see it recorded and put down so that you can present it to people and say ‘Hey, this is me. I hope you enjoy it.’ It’s just it’s been a great experience but a little nerve-wracking at times.”
Wayne has a humorous take on the experience of writing songs for a full-length studio album.
“It’s kind of like playing golf: so fun but so frustrating,” he said, laughing.
Some of Wayne’s songs come from personal experiences he had during his time in Kilgore. One of his new singles was inspired by an experience he had with a friend back home.
“There’s a gentleman that used to have a guitar shop next to Jack Ryan’s, ‘Neal’s Guitars and More’,” Wayne said. “I was out on the road when I got a phone call. They said ‘Hey man, Neal (Laney) is in the hospital in Longview. You need to go and see him. You may not get another chance.’ I went in there with a guitar and he said ‘I want to write a song.’ 15 minutes and the song is done. The nurses were singing and dancing with us in the hallway.”
Wayne said he’s most looking to performing two new songs for the Kilgore crowd: “Bad Influence”, inspired by a teasing conversation with his wife about cursing at a bad driver, and “Small Town”, written while reflecting on time spent talking with his grandmother on her front porch and at the Old Townhouse Cafe.
Wayne explained all are welcome at his show and he hopes the concert will show his gratitude for all the help he has had in his career.
“We’d like everybody to come out and catch the show if they haven’t yet. My name is on the ticket but it’s not just me that got it to this point. We want to say thank you to everybody. We appreciate it and can’t thank them enough,” he said.
He made sure to point out his shows are intended to be entertaining for all ages and audiences.
“We really, really strive to have our shows be very family-friendly. We really like to have the family involved. I don’t want people to think that it’s an adult show that their kids can’t come to. We love it and we embrace it. Bring your family, bring your friends and if your dog don’t bite, bring it too.”
Now, with his music career in full swing and fans who can’t wait for his new music, Wayne feels appreciative of the small East Texas towns where he got his start.
“The song ‘Small Town’, I wrote that when I got back from the Marines. I had wanted to get out of Leverett’s Chapel and New London as fast as I could. The funny thing about the world is it’s round,” he said, explaining his return to East Texas made him realize how much he appreciated this place.
“I do love my little small town,” he said.