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Billy Bob Thornton to play Ravinia with fan, friend Marty Stuart

Billy Bob Thornton (left) and his band, the Boxmasters, will perform Sept. 2 at the Ravinia Festival with country musician Marty Stuart. | Rob Fenn

Most people think of Billy Bob Thornton as the actor from movies like “Bad Santa” and “Friday Night Lights” or the Oscar-winning director of “Sling Blade.” But that’s not the case for country artist Marty Stuart.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is one of the most noble musicians I’ve met,” Stuart said. “He loves music and is a great musical artist. That gets overshadowed sometimes.”

Long before even landing his first acting role, Thornton had dreams of becoming a musician. When he’s not busy with his writing, directing or acting gigs, Thornton lives that dream by recording music and touring with his band, the Boxmasters.

The Boxmasters is an Americana-rock band whose style is influenced by 1960s British mod music and Southern American pop and country music. The “modbilly” group is set to join Stuart for a Friday performance at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park.


When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2

Where: Martin Theater, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park

Tickets: $27 – $55


This will be the first time in almost a decade that Thornton and Stuart have shared a stage. As such, the musicians have promised to make it memorable.

Teddy Andreadis (from left), J.D. Andrew and Billy Bob Thornton of the Boxmasters. | Rob Fenn
Teddy Andreadis (from left), J.D. Andrew and Billy Bob Thornton of the Boxmasters. | Rob Fenn

“Marty Stuart is an old friend of mine, and we haven’t done this in a long time so it’s pretty cool,” Thornton said. “We’re just a bunch of guys in a rock ‘n’ roll band doing what most of us have done since the ’70s. It should be a good time.”

Thornton and Stuart first worked together around 2000 when Thornton invited Stuart to score a film he produced called “Daddy and Them.” Stuart said they worked well together, so he was then asked to produce Thornton’s first solo record, “Private Radio,” in 2001.

Stuart said he and Thornton have not talked since agreeing to do the show around last December, so they “don’t have the first part of a plan” for what they will do together. But he is confident it will be a good time.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I have no doubt in my mind it will be interesting,” Stuart said. “There’ll be two great bands with two artists that love each other, so something good is bound to happen.”

“He and his band will do their set, my band will do my set and then we’ll probably wind up together on stage to do something,” he added.

Billy Bob Thornton (from left), Teddy Andreadis and J.D. Andrew of the Boxmasters. | Rob Fenn
Billy Bob Thornton (from left), Teddy Andreadis and J.D. Andrew of the Boxmasters. | Rob Fenn

J.D. Andrew, who plays guitar and bass guitar and sings in the Boxmasters, said to expect a set of upbeat hits spanning the performers’ careers. From the Boxmasters, fans will hear deep cuts, from the group’s older records to songs off its new double album, “Boys and Girls … and the World.”

The album captures the group’s signature style reminiscent of its 1960s influences such as the Beatles. Its songs feature upbeat pop sounds, but the lyrics take a deeper look at life.

“Boys and Girls … and the World” is split into two discs, with the first one containing songs about relationships and the second one focusing on broader issues in the world, Andrew said.

Andrew said the group favors releasing two-disc double albums to go against the current singles-based music industry where albums are not always emphasized.

“We love the whole experience of buying records, looking at the artwork and reading the lyrics, so we try to make our records more of an experience,” he said.