Somehow, five members of a band that has produced five EPs all consisting of five songs with five-part harmonies have continuously found a way to crank out one unique sound. That sound will be on full display Friday evening at Rockett Café and Club when Matt Boggs, Stevie G., Jamie “Jelly” Ringholm, CJ Thompson and James Guckenheimer, of Prophets and Outlaws, take the stage.
Although many have tried to pigeonhole PAO into one of several genres, the band has made its mark by avoiding a one-toned sound. Technically, Prophets and Outlaws fall under the Texas Country label, but for the love of George Strait, Willie Nelson and William Clark Green, please do not confuse Texas Country or Boggs and company with anything heard on a Nashville-based radio station.
In fact, the most “Nashville” thing about Prophets and Outlaws is the two time times the band was featured on the ABC drama, “Nashville.” To take it one step further, in 2015 PAO released a song titled “Country Music Gold” that delivers a swift jab at those shiny-boot-wearing punchy cowboys and girls from up north.
But, in all honesty, Boggs explained that it was those songs like “Wagon Wheel,” “Chicken Fried” and “Forever and Ever, Amen,” along with “Ain’t No Sunshine” or “Georgia on My Mind” that started the band on its path to becoming top-notch entertainers.
“Even when we were the Matt Boggs Band, we did cool covers and old-school stuff, and we just liked how those covers came off and sounded. So when we started Prophets and Outlaws we just wanted to create a sound like those covers, kind of like how we did some Ray Charles stuff or Bill Withers,” Boggs explained. “We just liked that vibe and it just slowly integrated from us trying to do songs like ‘Wagon Wheel,’ ‘Chicken Fried’ or ‘Forever and Ever, Amen.’ But, those songs were really just to try and get the crowd into it and get dancing. Then we noticed that we could do the same thing by being ourselves and that is the sound that really comes out.”
So, with bro-country thankfully in the rearview, PAO began its journey with a new sound.
It’s not country.
It’s not soul.
It’s not blues.
It’s not really anything specific other than damn good. With each five-part harmony, the band uncovers a new sound that cannot be adequately labeled, which is perfectly fine with Boggs, as he explained the group aims solely to entertain.
He also noted that it is “just the best feeling ever” when he sees the crowd, regardless of size, singing along with an original. Come Friday evening at Rockett Café and Club, entertaining is exactly what Boggs said PAO plans to do when they take the stage in Waxahachie for the third time.
“We grew up in the scene playing bars like [Rockett Café], so it kind of reminds me of playing back in the day. The other thing that happens a lot of times is that there are people who have never seen you before and you sort of put on a show for them to sort of win them over. A lot of times the more energy you have on stage the more they pay attention to you.
“[…] I think we really are just having a great time on stage and we kind of try to make each other laugh or feed off the energy of one another at times,” added Boggs of their stage presence and energy. “We are just all up there trying to entertain one another and that kind of just translates to the audience.
A SHOP FULL OF SOUL
With over 100,000 views on YouTube, “Soul Shop” is arguably the biggest hit released to-date by the Prophets. The song takes listeners inside a shop, living room or covered patio during a rainy day that has already ruined any hope of an outdoor activity. However, as Boggs explained, “sometimes the best days are the rainy ones.”
“We wrote [Soul Shop] about being with our family and things we did growing up, playing music with them, hanging out and just being together. It is kind of under the scene of a rainy day where you can’t really go outside or anything and everyone just stays inside and camps or just hangs out. Being together is just the best part of life,” Boggs said. “Sometimes the best days are the rainy ones and that is where we got all of that. It is not a direct true story but is a true story in that it has probably happened dozens of times when we were growing up. Just all being together and jamming out is what it is all about.”
In addition to traveling the countryside playing honky tonks, festivals or even the American Airlines Arena on New Year’s Eve, the band works off-stage to put out at least one YouTube video or cover a week. It is an endeavor that Boggs explained the band hopes will result in additional fan interaction and continue to separate Prophets and Outlaws from the pack.
In a review on National Rock Review of “V,” which is the newest EP released by Prophets and Outlaws, Brendan Tracey wrote, “The thing that sticks out about Prophets and Outlaws is the often overlooked harmonies. Lead vocalist Matt Boggs leads the charge behind a larger than life voice, but don’t think his bandmates are dragging their feet. […]Stevie G, Jamie “Jelly” Ringholm, CJ Thompson, and James Guckenheimer provide great instrumentals along with those refreshing harmonies that’ll make you wince the next time you here an overproduced pop song with a room full of backing singers.”
Prophets and Outlaws return to the Rockett stage Friday, Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Rockett Café and Club is located at 5790 FM 813 in Waxahachie.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith