West Wind

West Wind will perform as part of the Concerts in the Park series at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Harmon Park. “We want to stay true to who we are,” said Johnny Longoria, guitarist for the band, “and put smiles on people’s faces.” Admission is free.

KEARNEY — Straight up country music.

Johnny Longoria, front man for West Wind, uses words like “traditional,” “authentic” and “real country” when he talks about his band.

“We play cover songs because we want people to understand and recognize the music we play,” he said. “We like to get people to reminisce about the ‘old’ and the ‘new.’ I like to mix some of the old music with new music. I like audiences to remember where they were when they heard a song. I like to have a conversation with the audience as we go along — and then we’ll drop some country music coming out of Texas. That whole Texas scene which is more ‘country’ than what we normally hear on the radio.”

Longoria and West Wind will perform as part of the Concerts in the Park series, presented by Kearney Area Arts Council, at 7 p.m. Sunday at the band shell at Harmon Park. Admission to the concert is free.

The musicians want to remain true to the music they love.

“We want to stay true to who we are,” he said, “and put smiles on people’s faces. We want to play something for everybody, to give them a pretty good mix of old and new music for both young and old audiences.”

Keeping the music “true” means playing it like audiences remember.

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“We learned a long time ago that the people who recorded those songs are there for a reason,” Longoria said. “It’s not because they wanted everybody to put their own spin on it. We’ve done significant years of touring and we’ve worked with some of those folks out there, people whose music we play. We stay true and try to honor the music they put out, the whole honky-tonk sound.”

Johnny Lee, Daryle Singletary, Brooks and Dunn, Tim McGraw, Aaron Watson, Jason Boland, Dale Watson — Longoria lists these artists as influences.

West Wind plays a little differently for a sit-down concert as opposed to playing in a bar.

“This will be a more traditional concert because of the age group,” Longoria said. “People are going to come and sit and watch so it will be a little different than playing your regular honky-tonk bar.”

He knows exactly what makes country music so accessible to music lovers.

“In my opinion, it’s the story,” Longoria said. “They are well-written songs with well written stories. It’s the working man’s poem and the working man’s music. Everybody can relate to it. A good country song, if it’s happy, it makes you want to drink. And if it’s sad, it makes you want to drink. That’s a good country song.”

The band features Tab Eastburg on percussion; Larry “Chappy” Bresstingon, steel guitar/lead guitar; Keith Andersen lead guitar; and Longoria on guitar. Charles Bruce handles the sound for the band.

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