As the inauguration of Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president draws nearer, the list of performers scheduled to appear at official inaugural events continues to take shape.
One of those performers includes a beloved Fort Worth singer-songwriter: Josh Weathers.
Weathers, along with Tony Orlando, will headline the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball on Friday at the National Building Museum, according to the official inaugural website.
Weathers won’t making the trip to Washington, D.C., alone, however.
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According to Jedidiah Wick, who will be playing mandolin during Friday’s performance, Weathers will be joined onstage by vocalist Pauline Wick, fiddler Brook Deaton, bassist Nick Choate, drummers Tim Macon and Blaine Crews, and background vocalist Ariel Sutton.
“The primary focus of this … event excitement … is to help bring awareness to Love Like You Mean It, Josh’s nonprofit,” Jedidiah Wick said in an email.
In an interview this week, Weathers described the opportunity as “an honor” and “an immediate yes,” given the event’s focus on the armed forces.
“I know that’s going to come with some backlash, and some craziness, but the people that know me and know my heart — it’s not a political move by any means,” Weathers says. Trump “will be the president of the United States and we’ll be there, and we’re going to do what we do.”
Weathers and his collaborators, who are scheduled to perform a roughly hourlong set Friday, came to the attention of the inaugural planning committee thanks to the involvement of Fort Worth’s Encore Live, which is, according to a company spokesman, “producing seven official inauguration events, including the swearing-in ceremony, Freedom Ball and Armed Forces Ball.”
Encore Live CEO Walter Kinzie simply “wanted a Fort Worth guy,” as Weathers puts it.
“We’ve had to keep it on the down-low for a few weeks,” Weathers says. “We didn’t know if it was going to happen or not happen.” Weathers says plane tickets and other arrangements had been made over the last week.
As for those for who regard the incoming president as a controversial figure, Weathers shows equanimity.
“I’m not opposed to anyone having an opinion — that’s what makes us a democracy,” he says. “I know a lot of artists declined the opportunity [to perform for Trump]. I don’t harbor any ill thoughts towards them, or think they’re un-American — to each their own. My wife and I have this nonprofit, Love Like You Mean It. … I’ll have to take the good with the bad, and if [performing] brings awareness [to the nonprofit], then it’s worth it.
“I believe America can get past a place where we’re one side or the other — I really believe that. Our purpose is to spread some joy [at the Armed Forces Ball] — do we what we do at Lola’s [Saloon] or at the Live Oak [Music Hall & Lounge]. I’m not shy about my faith, so I don’t plan on being shy in that place either. ... I’m pro-America, and I really do love this country. I spend enough time outside this country to have a real gratitude for it.”
The ball will be attended, according to a news release, by the president-elect and Melania Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Karen Pence.
According to the inaugural website, “This ball is by invitation only, and tickets are being provided free of charge by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to invited guests, who include active duty and reserve military, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, military families, veterans, and first responders.”
Weathers’ next local show will be a charity event Jan. 28 at Fort Worth’s Shipping & Receiving.