Gravel Roads Band performing at Fourth of July celebration
While discovering their love for music at a young age—Rudy and Chris grew up in Olney listening to their dads play music together while bonding over the funny stories often shared between friends. The friendship between Rudy Bueno and Chris Widner organically evolved as a result of their dads’ relationship. “When we were little, Rudy used to set up pots and pans in his room, and we’d pretend like we were playing while our parents would play,” Widner recalled.
Fast forward to 1996 when Bueno—a bass guitarist and Tim Rogers—the lead guitarist asked Widner to play drums for their Country band so they could perform at the Hog Hoot. Although Widner was hesitant because at that time he had not played country music, the two convinced him and the money sealed the deal. “We practiced once or twice and then played the gig,” Widner said. We started a band called ‘Aces and Eights’ after we played that gig.”
Eventually, the band met Eddie Choat who was a singer from Wichita Falls and began playing with him, changing the band’s name to “Eddie Choat and the Aces and Eights,” the dead man’s hand. “We played together for more than two years until Eddie Choat transferred to England with the U.S. Air Force,” Bueno said. Widner added, “We still wanted to play together, and we started a band with a keyboard player named Ed McClure, who was going to be the lead singer. We practiced twice with Ed before our first performance at Brenda’s Place on Old Jacksboro Highway.
Later down the road, after the death of Tim—a bandmember and dear friend—was killed in a car wreck, the bandmembers decided to change the name to Gravel Roads. The band went through several guitar players until Steve Gray came along who is the current player. “We are honored to have Steve play with us. He is a phenomenal player who has been to Nashville. He has played with Brent Michaels from poison and Johnny Lee. We’ve all played with Johnny Lee,” Widner said.
The Gravel Roads band comprises a group of musicians who are all skilled at singing lead and harmonies—Rudy Bueno (bass guitar), Steve Gray (lead guitar) and Chris Widner (drums). The steel guitar players Steve Alsup and Bobby Hearn (Bridgeport) alternate between gigs. However, lead guitarist Kenny Gregory of Wichita Falls will sit in with the band for the Fourth of July celebration June 27 in Olney’s Tommy Perkins Park following the parade.
The Gravel Roads band is known for their cover of country music. “We play country and western music,” Widner and Bueno joked. “We play a little bit of Southern Rock and Roll like ACDC, but mainly we play country music,” Widner said. One song that the crowd loves is their rendition of “Working Man Blues” by Merle Haggard.
Although the band has no desire to write and record original songs, they do have one original song written a few years ago titled “Time Heals All.” “We played with headliners such as Johnny Lee, Casey Donahue and Gary Stewart, and we’ve played in crowds of thousands. At the time, we wanted to make it big. But now, we all work at Air Tractor. We have good jobs and families so that desire to make original music faded. We have a love for music more than anything,” Widner said. “We believe God gives us the talent, and we should give it back, and the Olney community has been supportive of us.”
Let your support continue by making plans to hear them play in Tommy Perkins Park. Music has a way of bringing people together. It transcends race, religious beliefs, ethnicity and political differences. There is something magical about live music; especially when you know the band members. You’ve watched them grow up. You’ve celebrated their wins and mourned their losses. You’ve watched your children play together. You’ve sat next to them in church. Yes, there is something special about a homegrown band.
Gravel Roads band is available for booking. You may reach out to the band’s manager Brenda Gray through the band’s Facebook page. Facebook.com/GravelRoads.