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Josh Abbott Band, Grand Ole Opry Debut Leads to Martina McBride Crush

Todd Purifoy

The Josh Abbott Band headed North from their native Texas this week to make their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. The Boot sat down with the group’s lead singer Josh Abbott, fiddler/electric guitarist Preston Wait and electric banjo player Austin Davis to talk about the career highlight, which country stars they talked to back stage, and what it all meant to them.

“I told someone, ‘It’s really overwhelming but in the best kind of way,’” Josh tells The Boot. “There’s all this lure to the place, and tradition. As soon as we get there, you’re filming stuff for the Opry show. Then you’re doing an interview. At the same time you’re trying to soak in the quotes on the walls and pictures. The next thing you know, especially since we played early on, they’re like, ‘You’re up.’ I haven’t even had a chance to sit down and soak it in that I’m about to do this, until you literally get out there. The second I finally got to think, ‘OK, I’m at the Opry,’ I was in the spotlight.”

The award for the band’s biggest Opry fan goes to Preston, who watched the show religiously growing up. “It definitely hit me pretty hard: it was my life goal,” he says with a grin. “It’s like a family tradition thing. Every week we’d watch it. I remember it was really upsetting for us when they took it off the air, off TV. Finally, they put it back on GAC, so we were really excited about that.”

Backstage at the Opry is very casual, stars wander around talking to friends and fans alike. While the group did rub elbows with everyone from Darius Rucker to Bill Anderson to Diamond Rio, they most stayed with their families, who had traveled to the show.

“I pretty much talked to my mom the whole time,” Austin recalls. “I was pretty thrilled after all that had just happened. She was fighting back tears, and I was getting choked up. It was a pretty special time for me and her to sit back and reflect on our career, thus far.”

“I talked to Aaron Tippin for a little bit,” Josh adds. “He’s really nice. He gave me some advice … that I can’t repeat. [laughs]“

However, there was one songstress who really made an impression on the troubadour. “Later on, I talked to Martina McBride a couple of times,” Josh reveals. “We’ve met before, and she’s just great. She’s the definition of class act, especially when it comes to the singers out here in Nashville. She’s so sweet. She’ll take the time to say, ‘Hi.’ She remembered who I was, which was shocking for me. I knew she did, because she remembered where’d we met. I think I’m in love with Martina. [laughs]“

If that wasn’t enough excitement for a month, the band’s new album, Small Town Family Dream, is out Tuesday (April 24). Pre-order your copy here.

Watch the Josh Abbott Band’s “She’s Like Texas”

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