For nearly two decades in Nashville, Chris Weaver has mixed southern rock, blues, country and pop for a living on stage while writing original material with some of the city’s top writers. Not a typical Nashville artist, his band’s sound is sometimes augmented by horns and percussion that support a soulful voice that draws from a lifetime of different influences. He explained what inspired him to develop his not-so Nashville sound by phone to American Songwriter.
“The stuff I was into I would say was the Beatles first,” he said, “and then I got into Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker, Bob Seger. I wasn’t into country much but I like the old guys, I was a big Hee Haw fan. Songwriters like Willie Nelson and those guys, like the ‘Rat Pack’ of Texas country. I’m 43, and my influences came from my dad, he had a band for 25 years and a lot of my influences came from his record collection.”
Weaver has written with numerous co-writers over the years, one of whom was hit country writer Harley Allen (Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson). “It’s usually me and a guy named Matt Rogers (Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch), and it was Harley Allen before he passed,” he said. “That’s who I wrote with and was signed with production-wise when I moved to Nashville a long time ago. And Stephony Smith (Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney). Then I became friends with country guys like Lee Brice and Chris Young and those guys, just because we were kind of doing the same thing early at the onset.”
He’s recorded several albums, but Weaver said that he believes singles are now the way to go, and will be releasing his new track “One More Last Time” on January 29. “It’s almost kind of a tribute to Billy Vera,” he said. “I was a big fan of his too, it’s kind of a throwback to that kind of sound. We have six new songs that we’re putting out every three months or so. I don’t know that I’ll ever do a full [album] again unless somebody wants me to. We’re just gonna put out singles.”
While Weaver’s focus is on original music, he’s a working musician with a full band and needs to pay the bills. So the Chris Weaver Band still performs cover gigs when the situation is right. “I pretty much turned it into a business,” he said, “a corporate business, we do a lot of corporate events and then we do original material whenever we can. I was playing cover music for years and years, but when I realized we could make a lot of money at it, I got the big band and went for the corporate gigs.”
He has also found success in Brazil, where he teams up with Brazilian music star Sorocaba. “Sorocaba, he’s like the Garth Brooks of Brazil,” Weaver said. “He has a duo, there’s a lot of duos in Brazil, in Central America really. He came to Nashville on vacation, and I was playing at [downtown club] the Stage, I played at the Stage for 11 years. If you saw us you’d remember us, we had eight people on stage with a horn section and percussion. That’s why we were able to play there so long, because it was so different than anything else that was going on down there. He saw us and he liked what he heard, and a few weeks later he called me to come down to Brazil and see if there was anything we could collaborate on.
“He liked a song of mine called ‘California High,’” Weaver continued, “and it became one of the songs we do on the Brazil Live record. For about two years we were working and working, doing these huge concerts and traveling down there with the whole band. People liked that we were an American band and going into these Brazilian venues, that we were different, and everyone was able to make a little money. But when things happened with their politics, the exchange rate changed, and it just wasn’t feasible to go down there anymore [with the band]. I started going down there by myself and EDM music is real big down there, so I’ve been writing lyrics for EDM songs to perform with the deejays. Before Covid that project was supposed to come out, so now it’s been a whole new ball game. Now in Brazil, I just go down by myself and perform with Sorocaba’s band. Once a month they do a Facebook Live stream, and they brought me down there in October to do that one, and I’ll be going down in January or February to do another one.”
Weaver doesn’t seem to mind that the dream of a major Nashville record deal hasn’t materialized for him. “I’ve only had an independent deal,” he said. “I’ve pretty much talked to every label in town, and when I was coming up there really wasn’t a place for me. I kept being told that my voice was different, my music wasn’t country … and now, it doesn’t even really matter anymore.”