I saw Billy Bob Thorton and his group the Boxmasters perform in Nashville last year as part of the Americana Music Association conference last year. The band played the big room downstairs at the cannery. My expectations were low. I figured a Hollywood star’s vanity project would just end up as Dogstar 2.0. But hell it’s Billy Bob Thorton and except for her uncle, Chip Taylor – who also performed at the AMA, her ex-husband was as close as I would get to Angelina Jolie.
I hadn’t heard the Boxmasters before they played and I was surprised how good they were. The band was tight and Billy Bob knew how to work the crowd (though his vocals were serviceable at best.) The identical outfits, Buddy Holly horn rims (except for Billy Bob) and black suits (were are the aliens or the dry toast?) were a bit silly but hell, if the early incarnation of the Beatles and many Grand ‘Ol Opry performers dressed in what comes doen to uniforms it’s okay with me.
The near the end of the Cannery show Billy Bob shocked me. He invited the legendsry country tenor Charlie Louvin onstage with him and, lyrics in hand and nerve in his voice sang the great Appalachian murder ballad Knoxville Girl made famous by Charlie and his brother Ira in 1956. That took guts.
Then the recent dust up in Canada. The Boxmasters (now featuring the awesome Unknown Hinson performing in the band under the name Danny Baker) were in the Great White North opening for Willie Nelson for a string of dates and were schedules
Apparently there was a some agreement with the Canadian radio station program the Q not to bring up Thorton’s acting career in an introduction before a band interview. Besides the diva-like behavior this represents the station did agree. Then the interviewer Jian Ghomeshi proceeded to bring up Thorton’s acting career. Thorton then proceeded to act like a pissy, spoiled 5 year old and give glib and non-sequiter answers, to the confusion of Ghomeshi (who probably thought that revealing Thorton’s apparently secret acting career couldn’t be the cause of such ridiculous behavior) and the embarrassment of his band who had to intervene and pick up his slack.
The next night Mr. Thornton drew a round of boos at a concert in Toronto’s Massey Hall after Thorton called Ghomeshi an “asshole” on stage and compared Canadian fans to mashed potatoes with no gravy. The band went on to cancel the last two shows on the Canadian leg of their tour with Willie Nelson which the Boxmaster’s web site is contributed to a band member and several crew members having the flu.
You can watch the whole tragic incident below.
Now the nad’s publicist