Ben Morris and The Great American Boxcar Chorus
Gig Seeker Pro

Ben Morris and The Great American Boxcar Chorus

Bryan, Texas, United States | SELF

Bryan, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Americana Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Local musician uses his experiences as inspiration for songs"

Ben Morris is a Texas A&M University graduate and a big fan of Aggie athletics.

He's also an avid songwriter and musician.

Those two worlds crossed last month when Morris found the inspiration for a new song: The Ballad of Billy Clyde.

Sports fans probably recognize the name as a certain basketball coach (Billy Gillispie) who accepted the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky.

Morris got the idea for the song after watching a Deal or No Deal episode in which an overly ambitious contestant went for more money and ended up getting burned.

"[The song is about] someone who always wants a little more," said Morris, 24. "I tried not to pigeonhole it too much or step on anyone's toes. I was very loose with my references. It's a song about a man who's always loving and leaving. And one of these days maybe he's going to learn he can't go home."

He said audiences have been receptive to the new song because many Aggies feel the same way about Gillispie's departure.

But the inspiration for The Ballad of Billy Clyde isn't what normally moves Morris to write his own brand of folk-country music. Morris uses his own life as the greatest source of inspiration, whether it's lamenting over lost love or the loss of a basketball coach.

In April, he released his first full-length album called The Other Side of Broken. Song titles like Left Me for Dead and If I Could Be With You offer insight into the album.

"I was dealing with a tough break-up, and it came out in my music," Morris said. "I'm normally a happy person. It was hard for a lot of people who know me to swallow. They were like, 'This is not Ben. This is not the happy, outgoing person I know.' I definitely feel like you write depending on where you are in your life."

The songwriting part of being a musician has always come the easiest to Morris.

He laughs as he remembers how he got started playing music with his high school friend, Jeff Irwin.

"It was Mother's Day [2001], and we realized we hadn't gotten our mothers a gift," Morris said. "So we wrote them a song, and that was the first song we had ever written. It was corny."

Their mothers, of course, were thrilled and loved the song.

Morris said he has grown as a songwriter and overcome a small case of stagefright along the way. For someone whose job with Twin City Mission includes public presentations, Morris acknowledged it's strange that he has a hard time playing for live audiences.

"I've always been the kind of guy who's never had a problem getting up in front of people in general. When it comes to music [and getting more comfortable in front of audiences], it's kind of been a series of steps."

Morris and Irwin started as a duo in 2004, playing at open mics around town. During that time, Morris said it was nice to have a "cushion" in Irwin so the focus wasn't entirely on him.

But in March 2006, Irwin was unable to continue playing, and Morris decided to take a shot on his own.

He said his first solo show, this March, was like being a newbie all over again.

"You talk about being nervous," Morris said. "That first song I played, I think I played it about three times the tempo. I guess nerves were kicking in. After I got through that one, it got a lot better."

Now he's "grown more comfortable in his skin" and is playing as many gigs as he can. Morris said he looks forward to growing further as a musician and hopes to become a recognized name among his peers and fans across Texas.

But he'll take his own advice in The Ballad of Billy Clyde and not chase what might seem like greener pastures should fame and fortune come calling.

"I'm a very ambitious person myself, but it's a fine balance. In my daily life, I try to stay grounded. I have a close connection to family. But definitely, there are themes in the song that I try to live by." - Bryan/College Station Eagle

"Awards honor homegrown talents"

Awards honor homegrown talents The East Texas town of Palestine played host
to an array of artists on April 26; the bestknown artist of the bunch, legendary singersongwriter Michael Martin Murphy played host (as well as headlining performer and Entertainer of the Year winner) for the event held at the Civic Center. The awards, where nominees and winners are decided by a combination of Academy of Texas Music consensus and fan votes on the internet, favored grassroots-level country and folk acts over big stars this year. Song of the Year went to veteran songwriter Tres Womack for “Gather Round”, Live Band of the Year was awarded to country-rockers Ben Morris & the Great American Boxcar Chorus, and Male and Female Vocalist of the Year went to Wade Bowen and Crystal Sands, respectively. Other winners included Highspeed Hayride (Album of the Year for their self-titled debut), Cody
Riley (Rising Star Award), and Connie Mims (Singer/Songwriter of the Year); a full list of winners can be seen at - Texas Music Magazine

"UTR#3 – Ben Morris & the GABC"

April 26, 2011 by Mike Messick

Ben Morris and the Great American Boxcar Chorus might fly under the radar, but they’re some of the most frequent flyers that I know, knocking down three or more gigs a week on a good month and already on their third album (due out May 3 … hence the timing of the article) if you count Morris’ 2006 solo debut. And yeah I’m biased, Ben is one of my closest friends and was one of the groomsmen in my wedding and vice versa, but even if I’d never met the man I’d like to think that the new album No Fun In Funeral would floor me. Blessed with a warm, rich baritone, a figurative band of brothers, and a no-borders approach to his art, he’s upped his game with each project. Keep an eye out for the new record, and in the meantime I’ll let Ben talk on behalf of him and the Boxcars.

In your own words, describe your sound.

Dirty Hobo Rock.

What are some of your favorite and/or most frequently played venues?

There’s our alma mater, the Beer Joint in College Station … we have a weird fascination with playing full band gigs there, about two shows a month. I like to think that a lot of the spirit and attitude that we approach our live show with has been fostered and fueled by all the soul that we have sucked from their old gas station walls. And JP Hops House in Houston, the first stage I ever had the privilege of playing … it has a very cool listening room type of vibe, probably one of the best sounding venues that we play at regularly.

Name a couple of career highlights, so far.

Creating and recording the last two records with my friends and bandmates, the Great American Boxcar Chorus, ranks right up there for me. Also, the success of Harestock, an annual benefit that we host, is very close to my heart … and of course being nominated three times now for “Live Band Of The Year” at the Texas Music Awards [Ben & the GABC won in ‘09] has been a huge honor.

What are some of your main influences as a songwriter & musician?

There are so many that I’m influenced by, it’s hard to rattle them all off … I’m a big Johnny Cash fan. I also have a solid appreciation for the ‘90s alternative rock that I grew up listening to, riding to school with my sister. It’d be a nearly impossible task to tell you about all the songwriters and bands that inspire me and the boys ….

If a fan’s buying you a drink, what’ll it be?

Last year, me and Bucky [drummer Bucky Bachmeyer] both would have probably answered either “beer” or “jager bomb” … now our answers are probably sugar free Red Bull or Diet Coke.

Name a couple of people you’d like to thank for helping you out in your career.

My wife & Jesus, my parents and grandparents. They have been the biggest supporters of my young musical career … also Jayme Ivison and Bryan Austin, for being our mentors and teachers. My boss, Kathy Chapman, for always working with my crazy schedule … there are so many more folks that I am indebted to!

What’s one of the the strangest gigs you’ve ever played?

Strange, but still cool: we played a senior prom in Navasota a few years ago. By “senior,” I don’t mean the high school kind. It was a prom for senior citizens … that was outside the box.

- The Texas Music Scene with Ray Benson


There Is No Fun In Funeral - 2011

Underground Railroad - 2009

The Ballad of Billy Clyde (single) - 2008

The Other Side Of Broken - 2007



Ben Morris & the Great American Boxcar Chorus – a long name, but it’s one worth remembering – are still in the early years of their collective musical mission, but they’ve already made their way around Texas with the scrappy grace of a young band that will go to any length to make themselves heard. With over a hundred and fifty full-band gigs already under their belt, and with their first proper full-band album (Underground Railroad, self-released) set for release in Spring 2009, the College Station-based band is looking to retrace their steps across the bars, music halls and festivals of the Lone Star State (and beyond) while blazing new trails, winning over new fans as they introduce a new set of tunes and ideas to the world.

The Boxcars’ (for short) music is easy to enjoy but difficult to define, drawing on countless influences and touching on many genres. Different songs evoke different combinations of driving bar-band country, adventurous indie-rock, catchy mainstream rock and lyrically driven folk. The depth and resonance of Morris’ baritone vocals have earned comparisons to Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, but he stops short of imitating such musical legends (aside from the occasional cover song) and instead collaborates with his bandmates to create something original and new.

Before forming the Great American Boxcar Chorus, Morris had already made some waves in his corner of the musical world. His uncommon entry into live music started when he teamed up with a college buddy to perform as Jeff & Ben: the duo’s combination of offbeat comedy tunes, drinking songs and unconventional covers went over well at open mic shows around Central Texas, to the point where the two began landing paid gigs and drawing surprising crowds. It was fun but not made for the long haul; when the duo amicably went their separate ways, Morris opted to make a sharp change in direction. He quietly dropped the comedic approach and took a break from gigging to write and record ‘The Other Side Of Broken’, the solo debut album where he began to find his voice. Loosely a concept album about the stages of heartbreak (with a couple of unrelated curveballs thrown in), the heartfelt lyrics, rich vocals and vibrant, textured sound were a surprise to those familiar with his earlier work. It also won him a whole new audience, with songs like “Count On Me”, “Thundercloud”, and ”No Saving Grace” only modestly breaking through on mainstream radio but going into heavy rotation on request-driven Internet radio sites like Radio Free Texas.

Though he initially approached his live shows as a solo acoustic act, Morris’ evolving ambitions inspired him to put together a full band. It was a fairly short search; soon he was joined by Jon Dittfurth on bass and background vocals, Bucky Bachmeyer on drums, and Coby Tate on lead guitar. The collaboration clicked so well that the newly committed band needed a name – the Great American Boxcar Chorus was born. The group worked up the material from ‘The Other Side Of Broken’ and were soon gigging all over Central Texas and beyond, having a blast exploring their musical common ground and gradually creating the new music that comprises the new release, ‘Underground Railroad’.

The album is a collaboration in the truest sense; the Boxcars largely passed on bringing in hired guns and opted to record most of the music themselves, and this time out Morris’ songwriting is augmented by contributions from each of the band members. Dittfurth had already been working the area for years as a part-time singer/songwriter, while Tate and Bachmeyer were new to the craft but emboldened by their band’s democratic approach.

In March of 2010, the Great American Boxcar Chorus underwent it’s first change in band personnel. Founding member Ditturth cordially parted ways with the band for personal reasons, and was replaced by bassist Chris Nichols, a longtime member of the Brazos Valley rock and roll community. As of late fall 2010, the Boxcars are working on material for a new band record, set to be released sometime in late spring 2011. Much like with ‘Underground Railroad’, the GABC is hopeful that the contributions of all four members will come together potently on their newest project, a country-rock statement of purpose and optimism set to carry them to a new level as their grassroots following grows, spreads, and cheers the boys on.