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Country star Joshua Ray Walker closes out Thin Line Fest

Country star Joshua Ray Walker closes out Thin Line Fest

Country star Joshua Ray Walker closes out Thin Line Fest
March 29
20:59 2022

A crowd of people dressed in anything from cowboy boots to Dr. Martens boots grew as more and more people entered Dan’s Silverleaf. As light from the sunny Sunday afternoon pours in through the front and patio doors, a large man wearing a turquoise baseball hat with a denim vest draped over his floral Hawaiian shirt walks on stage, plugs in his guitar and sings the first lines of the song “Bronco Billy’s” without any kind of introduction.

Even without an introduction, everyone in the room knows exactly who the man was.

Joshua Ray Walker, a 31-year-old country singer-songwriter from East Dallas, was one of the final acts to perform in this year’s Thin Line Fest.

This was Walker’s first time performing in the festival under his own name, but he has performed in Denton dozens of times before and performed in Thin Line as part of the band Ottoman Turks. Although his performance was at the end of the festival, there was a large turnout for Walker’s show. For many people in the audience, this show was the only Thin Line performance they attended this weekend.

Karis Stiles and Kyle Holton, both 33-year-olds and Denton residents, attended Walker’s show. The two planned to attend other Thin Line performances, but Walker’s show was the only one they made it to.

“We heard [Walker] for the first time when he was opening for another show we saw,” Holton said. “That was two years ago and we’ve been fans ever since.”

Denton residents Kirsten Pankey, 27, and Michael Martin, 29, were also among the crowd at Sunday’s show. The two have attended Thin Line in the past, but Walker’s performance is the only one they attended during this year’s festival.

“[Walker] has very creative songwriting and really fun, long sustained high notes that I really like,” Martin said. “’Canyon’ was the first song of his that I heard, and I realized, ‘Oh my god. He’s about to be big.”

Martin is not the only one who came to that realization after hearing Walker’s music. Last month, Walker appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” and performed “Sexy After Dark,” a bright, funky horn-backed song from his latest album “See You Next Time.” Since appearing on the show, more people are coming to his performances and he is gaining more attention on social media, Walker said.

“My favorite part of performing is playing for an audience that doesn’t know who I am or hasn’t heard me before, and getting a big room of people that [weren’t] expecting to see me, to get really quiet and pay attention to one of my songs,” Walker said.

Walker’s performance video on “The Tonight Show,” which was posted to YouTube, has received numerous comments from users who have discovered his music through the performance.

Despite his steadily rising fame and attention, Walker sat at his merch booth before the show, signed autographs and talked with his fans. Walker also stays connected to the local music scene and has no interest in leaving North Texas, as evidenced in the lyrics of his opening song.

“I love the Denton music scene and [Thin Line] feels like a family, not a corporate festival,” Walker said. “It’s nice to run into people you know.”

During Walker’s set, which lasted a little over an hour, he took time to explain the meanings behind some of his more well-known songs.

“I’ve played at places that paid you based on how much beer was sold, so you’ve got to play right up until two in the morning and you get paid for the tabs that close at 1:45,” Walker said before playing his song “Last Call.” “Which means I’ve been on stage when people are trying to figure out how they’re getting home and who they’re going home with, so I wrote a song about it.”

Walker’s songs cover a variety of topics, from a song about a child sex worker in “Working Girl,” to a song about a couple he met at a truck stop in Kansas in “Lot Lizard,” to the relationship he had with his father who passed away in 2016 in “Canyon,” the performance of which left very few dry eyes in the audience.

Walker has been making music almost his entire life. He has been playing music since he was six years old and does not see himself stopping any time soon.

“[Five years from now] I’ll probably have a couple more albums out and hopefully I’ll have written some hit songs for other artists, and I’ll be on a boat somewhere in the Mediterranean,” Walker said.

Featured Image: Joshua Ray Walker performs for a crowd during Thin Line Fest on March 27, 2022. Photo by Kaitlynn Hutchins

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Kaitlynn Hutchins

Kaitlynn Hutchins

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