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John Christopher Way is making new friends and new fans every Wednesday at Opry Night at the FBG Event Center. The young musician plays traditional country dance music, and is building toward a career in the music industry. Photo by Phil Houseal

Every Wednesday is Opry Night at the FBG Event Center, just south of Fredericksburg on Tivydale Road. Opry Night is a family-style show with live dance music and hill country guest artists joining the John Christopher Way Band. Hours are 7 - 10 p.m., with tickets at $5. Opry information at 990-1010. For information on John Christopher Way, call 830-896-8087.

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John Christopher: Well On His Way

by Phil Houseal
Feb 20, 2008

It had to have been 25 years ago, I played in a little club on the banks of the Guadalupe River in Kerrville. It was called the Armadillo Run, and the word "little" is accurate. The stage was so small, the fiddler had to crouch to keep his bow from hitting the ceiling

That fiddler was Johnnie Way. And sometimes he brought his little boy John Christopher with him.

John Christopher Way is now a young man, and he is playing traditional country music in a much larger venue. To hit the ceiling of the FBG Event Center you would need a 40-foot bow.

The young Way and his band anchor the new Opry night every Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m. It is an auspicious start, and if Way keeps going as he has, he'll move on to even bigger places.

Way remembers hanging out at the old Armadillo Run (which is no longer running). He has been playing since the age of 3. His daddy taught him to play guitar, fiddle, drums, piano, bass, and who knows what else. He was so immersed in music he went on to Baylor to earn a degree in commercial music (who knew you could major in country music... but this is Texas).

Way describes his style as traditional - so much so that he says, "Maybe I should have been born in the 1940s." He loves that tradition, and wants to maintain it both in his music and in his public demeanor.

"I play mainly traditional country music, and I am trying to keep that alive," he said. "We'll do some top 40, then turn around and do some Bob Wills. We are a dance band, mostly."

Way has the looks, talent, and easy charm that bode well for commercial success. But so do countless other young country musicians, collectively referred to as "hat" acts for their carefully creased clothes and cowboy hats. What makes Way any different?

"I think being 27 years old, and being in Texas where I was born and raised, and trying to keep traditional music alive --- that's different than what a lot of people are doing right now," he explained. "It's totally not about the look. This is me; what you see is me. This is totally about the music."

Way's college training has given him a knowledge of the recording and business side. His natural good grace gives him a respect for his fans. He hangs around after each show to chat and sign autographs.

"I love to meet people... I'll meet the last one. I love it. That's what it's all about."

While he cites Gene Watson as his "all-time favorite," Way is not trying to mimic anyone.

"If you hear me, you would not say he sounds like this guy," he said. "Anybody who hears me says it's really different. The main thing is it's a genuine show - there is nothing made up."

"What you see is what get."