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EliYoungBand_PopThe Eli Young Band will be performing at Las Palmas Race Park in Mission on Dec. 29. The band has come a long way in their 10 short years together from performing gigs in college to having their own YouTube Channel.

Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones and Chris Thompson met while attending the University of North Texas in 1998 and 1999. The foursome were brought up surrounded by music and had high school bands. In college, they realized they all had music in common and started playing together. The group even included a couple of songwriters.

Thompson said it was really an organic kind of thing the way they came together.

The band members combine their roots – rock and country sound – with vocalist Mike Eli’s ingratiating resonance, guitarist James Young’s elastic bag of sounds, bass player Jon Jones’ inventive foundation and drummer Chris Thompson’s energetic propulsion.

The band debuted live in October 2000. After a year or two, the band saw they had fans and decided to do something more, recalls Thompson.

Even though the band had struggles such as members holding two jobs, attending rehearsals, performing until 2 a.m. and then getting up the next morning for a class or exam, they have stuck together.

“We saw there was potential in the band and there’s something bigger right around the corner. We have good chemistry … we have our fights, but all in all we have been good friends,” says Thompson.

Their first album, Level, was released in 2004 under an independent Carnival label. Their single “When it Rains,” was on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart for more than 30 weeks.

In 2005 the band signed with Universal Republic and continued to push “When it Rains.” The song became the longest-running single in the history of the country chart.

In September 2008, the band launched their national debut with Jet Black & Jealous. The album landed the band in the top five on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart.

The album received coverage in USA Today, People, Billboard, American Songwriter, Country Weekly, and in major newspapers across the country. The album became their first Top 10 hit for country radio.

Since the album’s debut, the band has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman and headlined at the Houston Rodeo in front of an audience of 60,000 people. They have also opened for the Dave Matthews Band, Alan Jackson, Jason Aldean, Pat Green and Gary Allan.

The concert will feature songs from Jet Black & Jealous and new songs from their album set to be released late spring or early summer in 2011.

Eli recalls that when they started, they just wanted to be popular in their hometown. Once they achieved that, they wanted to be known in DFW.

“Then once we did that, it was, ‘Let’s take over Texas.’ Then, next thing you know, we’re saying, ‘Let’s take over the South.’ Now it’s, ‘Let’s take over the country.’”

Their dreams are now becoming reality as they have been performing more than 200 days out of the year consistently the past few years.

“We are living our dream. This is what we dreamt about when we were kids. And here I am giving an interview while we are on the road to a show. We want this as a career, not just a come and go,” said Thompson.

When asked what advice he would give other bands wanting to achieve what they have, Thompson said, “It’s kind of cliché, but don’t ever turn down a gig.”

“You never know who is going to be in the audience that might book you for another show, be in the industry, or in 10 years might be the program director at a radio station… they will help you,” he said.

“Jump at every opportunity, but keep your dignity.”

The Eli Young Band can be found at www.eliyoungband.com, on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and they have an iPhone app.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online at www.laspalmasracepark.com/events/, Cavender’s in McAllen and Brownsville, or at the door. Las Palmas Race Park is located at 7509 N. Taylor Rd. in Mission. The Scott Wiggins Band will be opening.

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