By Cara Pattison
With an EP containing their original music playing on the airwaves and having performed sold-out debut concerts two nights in a row, Yukon-based band Cross Rags and Young are amped up and ready to hit the ground running. However, their success so far is the culmination of five months of hard work and preparation.
Since September, lead vocalist Jason Young, guitar player Grady Cross, and drummer Randy Ragsdale have been jamming together and building their identity as a band.
Along the way, the trio created their own sound, wrote some original music, put it on an EP, learned the business side of the band, and started booking shows.
The unique sound that Cross Rags and Young created is the love child of three successful music careers, alongside a couple newer and younger musical additions to the band, Young said.
“We have spent the past five months putting a band together, a big thing,” he said. “We started practicing with our guitar players, Steven (Adams) and Ryan (Gleason). We all jumped right in and started doing rehearsals and putting our show together. We collaborated on what we wanted to play on-stage.
“We added a steel guitar player, Jon Maloy. When it was all said and done, we heard our sound and knew it was what we envisioned from the beginning.”
Ragsdale said that in addition to what the newer and younger musicians bring to their music, he thinks fans will enjoy hearing the Jason Young Band and Cross Canadian Ragweed styles melded together.
“I can’t put my finger on how to exactly describe our sound, for sure,” Ragsdale said. “I think the Ragweed red dirt underground sound is still there. The difference is that there’s a bigger sound to it now. Jason Young has really complimented that sound with his Texas country style.
“There’s a lot more sound in the gaps. Not so cut and dry. The old band had a garage band feel. You know, mostly guitars, amps, drums. This sound has acoustic and electric to fill in the bigger sound. I think almost like a Shooter Jennings kind of feel to it,” he added.
“We weren’t going for a certain thing. We had this sound in our head and it just fit together. Fans will hear a steel guitar sound to ‘class it up,’ but the underground, funky sound is still there. This is cool and I’ll take this (sound) all day long.”
Having their musical style hammered out, Cross Rags and Young’s four-song EP hit the airwaves on Feb. 3.
“We released three of our own songs on the EP – Family Name, Just Drive, and I’m Moving On,” Young said. “Those three are original and we wrote them together.
“We also decided to bring in a fourth song, Framed. This is a cover of a 20-year-old Chris Knight song that we made our own. The EP is now listed with some big-name providers like Apple Music, Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, and CD Baby.”
BY POPULAR DEMAND
With the EP released, Cross Rags and Young officially took their show to the road this week. Originally, Cross Rags and Young scheduled their debut concert on Feb. 13 at Grady’s Pub, 444 W. Main St, which is owned by and named after Cross.
After selling out tickets in record time, the band unanimously decided in hindsight to add another show at Grady’s Pub on Feb. 12.
“We just decided to go ahead and pick a date (for our first show) because we already had some other dates booked at my venue,” Cross said. “It sold out so quick, in like 18 hours. We didn’t even have time to get tickets for our parents and close friends. It startled me a little bit, so we booked another night. We booked it the night before, on Wednesday, because the pub had a Friday band booked. The second show sold out in 24 hours. It was nuts.
“Both nights, we had people come from all over – St. Louis, Iowa, Illinois. This was not the regular Yukon crowd. There were people that drove from 10-11 hours away on a Wednesday and Thursday. And let me just say, we brought it both nights.”
Having their two kick-off shows at Grady’s Pub was a sentimental decision for the band. In 1992, Cross and Ragsdale played their very first gig on Czech Day as high schoolers with their newly formed band, Cross Canadian Ragweed. Their first show was in the south parking lot of the former 50 Yard Line Bar on Main Street. In 2010, the 50 Yard Line became Grady’s Pub.
“Grady’s Pub selling out as fast as it did was a really, really good feeling,” Ragsdale said. “I think we are lucky and honored to be able to do this band thing again. To kick it off with a sold-out crowd was really sentimental. It still feels pretty good.
“This spot is where Grady and I had the first concert with our other gig when we were in high school. Czech Day at the 50 Yard Line. Right there in the outdoor area on a flatbed float. We sat up there on that trailer and just banged away. And now, to be joined by our long-time friend, Jason Young, it’s just a really cool feeling.”
Young said he was excited about having the inaugural two shows in Yukon, as well.
“I loved kicking this off in Yukon,” he said. “Grady pulled out all the stops for this show. A lot of the old stuff, new stuff, popular stuff, new covers, we mixed things up. In addition, we sold some specialty ‘kick-off’ Cross Rags Young merchandise that was only for sale those two nights at Grady’s Pub. I feel like it was a special two nights.”
Having their debut shows under their belt, Young has been working with a booking agent to set-up future concerts. As the business brains behind the group, he has been strategizing behind the scenes to keep the momentum rolling. And, based on demand, this local band will soon be nationwide road warriors.
“We signed with booking agent Scott Galloway out of Nashville, and he’s booking tons of dates for us,” he said. “He was the agent for Cross Canadian Ragweed, and let me tell you, there’s a good history there. Our dates will be announced on our Facebook page and the Cross Rags Young website.
“I can publicly say right now that we will be playing soon at Hard Rock Track 5 in March, the next night we will be at West Siloam Springs Cherokee Casino doing a show there. We are working on some future shows in Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City. We’ve got about a dozen dates with contracts in for all over Texas, Kansas City, places like that.”