Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers
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Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers

Lincoln, Nebraska, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Lincoln, Nebraska, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band R&B Soul


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



"Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers: A soul explosion in a year"

On Dec. 27, 2012, Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers played their first show at the Zoo Bar.

A year and a couple weeks later, Hoyer and his five-piece band and three backup singers are set to release their debut album with a Friday show at the Bourbon Theatre. Saturday, they’ll hit the road to Kansas City, Mo., then to St. Louis and Springfield, Ill., before landing in Memphis where they’ll represent Nebraska at the International Blues Challenge.

That’s a pretty big jump for a new band, albeit one made up of veteran musicians.

“When we started this band, the idea was to play in Lincoln once every couple weeks,” Hoyer said Sunday before the band began rehearsal in its practice space above the Zoo. “It’s kind of had a life of its own. People have really enjoyed it. This hasn’t been planned out. We’ve been doing what’s presented itself, and I like that.

“I feel very blessed with all the great things that have happened this year. We’ve worked hard to get it. We’ve been up here weekly or more than weekly working at it.”

In June, the Shadowboxers released a 45 and the band played some summer festivals, including Omaha’s Playing with Fire series, Lincoln's ZooFest and the Sin City Soul and Blues Revival in Las Vegas.

They’ve also began touring regionally, playing Topeka, Kan.; Sioux City, Iowa, and Sioux Falls, S.D., as well as Omaha and their Lincoln dates. Those shows, Hoyer said, have gone very well.

“This band has a way of connecting with people in a way none of the bands I’ve led before has been able to do,” Hoyer said. “We’ve got fans in those towns now. There seems to be a buzz in the places where we go.”

So why does this band connect so strongly when the others didn’t?

“I think soul music is something everybody can connect to,” Hoyer said. “It gets to the essence of what music can be, inspiring people, connecting with people, lifting them up. You’re putting your heart out on the stage every night when you play soul music. It doesn’t hurt that it’s good to dance to, too.”

“We’re not trying to do a kind of cookie-cutter thing where you say ‘I want to sound like this label or be this era.’”

As could be heard at Sunday’s rehearsal, the Shadowboxers repertoire includes original songs and songs by others from James Brown to The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” The Band’s “The Shape I’m In” and The Dramatics' “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get.”

But the Shadowboxers aren’t a cover band.

“And we’re going to be much less of one by mid-summer,” said Hoyer, who is married and the father of two daughters. “I’ve been working so hard on this album, and, with the family, writing’s been a little hard.”

That said, Hoyer acknowledged that the Shadowboxers likely will do a few songs originally done by others.

“If people request a song, I’ll check it out and we might learn it,” he said. “We want to play what people want to hear. Magic Slim taught me that. He’d tell me ‘Look out when you’re playing and see what gets the people going. You keep that song.’ He was a pro for a reason. He showed me all that stuff. I miss him. A lot of people do.”

Covers, however, won’t turn up when the band plays the International Blues Challenge, a trip the band is looking forward to taking.

“It’s going to be fun,” Hoyer said. “I’m going to call it a vacation more than anything. But we’re not going to Memphis to lose, I’ll say that, too.”

The International Blues Festival competition starts with more than 150 bands. That number is cut to 44 in the second round, and 11 make the finals. The winners get some cash, but more importantly the top three bands get gigs at some of the biggest summer festivals and the overall winner gets a spot on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Caribbean Cruise.

Getting onto the festival and cruise circuit is one of Hoyer’s targets for the Shadowboxers. That requires making a name in the blues and soul world and getting into the inner circle of performers.

“Once you’re in that circle of bands, things can happen really fast for you,” Hoyer said. “It’s all the same people coming in for the festivals, maybe 50 bands. I feel like we have a place in there. I think we have something to add to the conversation.

“I feel we have something special. I have faith in the group. When people come out and give it a shot, they say ‘Man, this is really fun.’” - Lincoln Journal Star - L.Kent Wolgamott

"Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers"

Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers was originally conceived in 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hoyer, who’s a solo artist and session musician, is already a pretty big deal in the Lincoln area, in much demand as a singer, musician, and arranger, and he and his soulful nine-piece band are highly regarded in their region. Their self-titled debut release should expand their opportunities considerably.
The band’s debut is a dynamite mix of soul and R&B, with eight original compositions, including the funky opener, “Shadowboxer,” which opens with a lengthy vamp by the band before Hoyer dives in with a strong vocal. “Close Your Eyes” is a smooth taste of ’70s-era Memphis soul and “Illusion” is a catchy southern funk rocker reminscent of Wet Willie. The sparkling horn section kicks off “Everyday and Everynight” with a vibe similar to James Brown, but it settles back into a midtempo groove with some smooth interplay between Hoyer and the backing vocalists (Hanna Bendler, Kim Moser, and Megan Spain).
“Just Call Me (I’ll Be Sure To Let You Down Again)” is a slick soul ballad with more great work from the horn section (Hoyer – baritone sax, Tommy Van Den Berg – trombone, Michael Dee – tenor sax, flute, and Russell Zimmer – trumpet), and “Til She’s Lovin’ Someone Else” has a rock feel with some tasty guitar from Benny Kushner. “Make Time For Love” mixes Memphis-styled horns, nicely percolating keyboards froM Hoyer, and a greasy guitar riff from Kushner. The closer, “Dirty World,” is a seven-minute-plus funk workout that gives all the musicians ample space to stretch.
Hoyer is the real deal on vocals, and the band really rocks the house (thanks in no small part to the tight rhythm section of Brian Morrow – bass, and Justin G. Jones – drums, percussion). A good soul record is hard to find these days, at least much harder than it used to be when soul music was in its heyday. This release will bring a smile to the faces of those who recall those glorious days, and hopefully it will help usher in a resurgence.
--- Graham Clarke - Blues Bytes - written by Graham Clarke

"Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers EponymouslyTitled CD"

Unfamiliar with Lincoln Nebraska’s Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers, their self-titled and self-produced recording left a definite impression from the first note. Led by vocalist, keyboardist and baritone saxophonist Hoyer, the band includes Benny Kushner on guitar and vocals, Justin G. Jones on drums, latin percussion and vocals, Brian Morrow on bass and vocals, Tommy Van Der Berg on trombone and Mike Dee on tenor sax with a trio of backing vocalists for a collection of soul and funk with some blues accents.

Hoyer himself is a big voiced soulful singer who might be compared to New Orleans blues-eyed soul blues boss, Luther Kent. He sings powerfully with a similar authority to Kent, although the program here are all his originals. Hoyer and the Shadowboxers are a terrific band evident from the opening Shadowboxer with the band hitting a deep groove and coming off like a contemporary New Orleans funk band. The horns (with trumpeter Russell Zimmer added on this track) come off as tight and full of punch while the rhythm section gets a deep soulful groove down.

Hoyer has cast a marvelous web with his use of overdubbing allow him to play some greasy organ and add bottom to the horns with his baritone sax while crafting the vocals (and backing vocals) into driving, stone solid soulful performances. The crisply played Close Your Eyes has a more mellow feel to it with its gritty lyrics about people scrambling to try to find what they are looking for. His horn arrangements frame the vocals and he even takes a gutty baritone break before some bluesy guitar runs from Kushner. Illusion gets back to the funk with its topical message about many everyday things being an illusion and things not being what they seem and living in strange times, before Van Der Berg’s strong trombone solo.

The remainder of the eight tracks are equally performed strongly. Its a varied set of performances that show influences from Memphis, Chicago (think Tyrone Davis) and New Orleans, but put together for this very impressive release. Josh Hoyer is a first-rate vocalist and the Shadowboxers are soulful and funky. Based on their terrific release, I can see them performing much more often outside of their Lincoln, Nebraska base.

I received my review copy from a publicist. You might check out their website,, for more information. Here is a video of them in performance. - In A Blue Mood - Ron Weinstock

"Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers"

"They come from everywhere. Add Josh Hoyer and The Shadowboxers to the mounting list of bands, including Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and St.Paul and The Broken Bones, that play real Soul and R&B music reverently, but bend it peculiarly for contemporary tastes. This eight-piece from Lincoln, Nebraska pumps hard on eight Hoyer originals on their self-titled debut, one after the other an outstanding, contrasting, grab-you-by-the-neck groove. Hoyer belts the songs with down-to-earth finesse; that they're all his amazes, because several have that irresistible "heard it before" quality. "Illusion" goes so beyond the norm that it has to be heard. Right to the end on the driving "Make Time For Love," these guys and ladies electrify." - Hitting The Note Magazine (June 2014)


Still working on that hot first release.



Currently at a loss for words...

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