Rodney Atkins Takes a Back Road to NYC (original publication on countrymusicislove.com)

Rodney Atkins
iHeartRadio Theater
Tribeca, NYC
Nov. 4, 2011

The original publication of this article can be found on www.countrymusicislove.com

On Friday night, New York City was treated to an intimate live performance from one of the rising stars of country music, Rodney Atkins.  I was greeted by Vanessa Wojtusiak, the Manager of Digital Marketing & Programming at Clear Channel Online Music & Radio, who informed me that the Theater was just renamed to the iHeartRadio Theater (formerly known as the PC Richard & Sons Theater).  This music venue is one of the best I’ve ever been to.  It gives fans an up close experience to top artists while providing exceptional acoustics.

At approximately 7 p.m., Jonathan Clarke, an on-air personality from New York’s Q104.3 came out to warmly great the crowd and introduce Rodney.  He asked the crowd if anyone was from Rodney’s home town of Knoxville and informed us that Rodney’s last single (“Take A Back Road”) was the fastest rising of his career.  Rodney came out and modestly stated “This first request is for you guys.”  The fiddle sounded and his band jumped right into “These Are My People”. 

Rodney is not flashy at all.  He was dressed simply in a trucker hat, a grey sweater, and brown cargo slacks.  He was very soft spoken between his songs and really lets his music do the entertaining.  He prides himself on singing about real life events that normal people can relate to.  He took the time to sing the next two songs about his son, Elijah, who was actually in the crowd.  He stated “this is for my little bear” and emotionally sang the smash hit “Watching You”.  As the yellow and blue lights swirled and filled the theater, it was an amazing moment to see his son react to the song his father was singing.  He was full of smiles and jumped up and down singing right along with him. 

The next song was also about his son as Rodney jokingly explained that his son had just hit double digits (in age) and Rodney knew what he did when he was younger was going to come back haunt him.   But he always wanted his son to know he loved him “and it’s unconditional.”  He then sang his new song on country radio, “He’s Mine”.  It sounded even better live than it did it does on the radio as extra emotion was pumped through Rodney’s vocals.  He certainly has yet another hit on his hands. 
Rodney took the time to introduce his band before he sang “Farmer’s Daughter” which included amazing instrumental moments from a band member playing a banjo and another on the steel guitar.  It is good old country music at its finest.  He introduced the next song as the first love song he has ever done.  He said its “hard to find a real love song because once you are in a relationship it’s not all blue skies and no bills”.   He, of course, was talking about “Cabin In The Woods”, a real stand-out song off of his newest album. 

His next song was the one the crowd was obviously waiting for as the entire Theater sang “Take A Back Road” in unison with Rodney.  In fact, he seemed to be getting more comfortable on stage as he was very animated and interactive during this huge hit.  He followed it up by singing to a fan in the crowd who was celebrating a birthday.  He performed an acoustic version of the fan’s favorite song, Garth Brooks’ classic hit “Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old”. 

Rodney finished up his set by proudly toasting all the soldiers who were serving abroad and stating “may we all be in heaven five minute before the devil knows we’re there!”  He of course was eluding to arguably his biggest hit “If You’re Going Through Hell”.  Rodney did not use his guitar for the first time that night as he used every inch of the stage.  He was clearly most at ease singing this song and he was nothing but energy and smiles throughout. 

I was able to speak to Rodney after the show and I asked him what he was most proud of with the new album.  His response was “Not to be trite, but we love keeping the music real to who we are. And our album’s material has not wavered from the first album. And I love the way I can keep my music true to who I am.”  He also explained to me that the album took a long time to make because he really wanted the right songs to be on the record.  My friend Max who came with me to the show explained that from one father to another, he hoped he could see his son’s face during “Watching You” and “He’s Mine”, because it was a powerful reaction. Rodney as always, was very gracious and humble.  For such a soft spoken guy, his music really speaks loudly and you could tell everyone at the iHeartRadio Theater that night really connected with his music. 

All photos are courtesy of Jeremy Harris of iHeartRadio.  All in all, it was an exceptional show in a superb venue. Thank you to CountryMusicIsLove, iHeart Radio, and Clear Channel Radio for such a great experience.

Setlist

  1. These Are My People
  2. Watching You
  3. He’s Mine
  4. Farmer’s Daughter
  5. Cabin In the Woods
  6. Take A Back Road
  7. Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old (Garth Brooks Cover)
  8. If You’re Going Through Hell

Luke Bryan Brings Country to the Big City

LUKE BRYAN
P.C. Richard & Son Theater, New York City

August 8, 2011

The original publication of this article was posted on:
 http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2011/08/lb-nyc.html

Please check out their amazing website. 


I arrived at the pristine P.C. Richard & Son Theater, located at 32 Avenue of the Americas in New York City’s Tribeca Neighborhood, about two hours before Showtime. To my surprise, there was already a huge single file line in front of the building and wrapped around the block. The fans, predominantly females of all ages, came equipped with a mixture of signs, boots, and cowboy hats. Everyone was happy to withstand the humidity as they were eager for their chance to get an up close and personal look at country music’s newest star, Luke Bryan.

           


At approximately 7:00 p.m., Jonathan Clarke of NYC’s Classic Rock Station, Q 104.3, took the stage.  He announced that everyone in the crowd should feel very lucky because the show was going to be a “live television event”.  In that, he meant it was going to be streaming live on iheartradio’s website as well as multiple country music radio station websites across the country.  There was even a twitter trend created for the show (#iheartradiolive) that he encouraged fans in the crowd to tweet during the show. 


Luke Bryan came out to the stage to a fury of screams from the crowd.  He stated “What’s up New York City and iHeartradio? We have a good looking crowd here. This is going to be a lot of fun.  If you were calling someone your baby and you’re not anymore, this song is for you.” He opened his show with a former #1 hit, “Someone Else Calling You Baby”.  In typical Luke Bryan fashion, he was smiling, dancing, and interacting with the crowd throughout the song. 


Luke next took the time to briefly tell the crowd that his new album “Tailgates & Tanlines” was being released at midnight that night and said he was going to do a few songs off the new album.  He proclaimed “this is last show that I will do without a new album out. The next song you have to get your ‘boom boom’ on.”  Of course, that got a rise out of the crowd and he proceeded to sing a new fan favorite “Drunk On You”.  The song is very catchy and is very chorus driven:




“girl you make my speakers go boom boom,
Dancing on the tailgate in the full moon
That kind of thing makes a man go mmm mmm,
You’re looking so good in what’s left of those blue jeans,
Drip of honey on the money make it got to be
The best buzz I’m ever going to find.
Hey I’m a little drunk on you
And high on summertime.”






Luke laughed after the song because the crowd seemingly knew every word to the song although it was yet to be released.  In fact, many of the fans had signs decorated with the phrases “boom boom” and “drunk on you”.  He said “a lot of you must be watching some youtube or something”. 




He then proceeded to introduce another song off of the new album entitled “I Don’t Want This Night To End”.  In fact, he stated that he expects this to become the next single released after “Country Girl hopefully goes number one”.  In my opinion, if he decides to release this song as a single, he will certainly have yet another number one single on his hands. 




The song is very new age country with a phenomenal instrumental sound combined with a fun storyline.  Musically, it is very similar to Kenny Chesney’s song “Somewhere With You” in that it is a very soulful sounding song which he switches his notes from mid-tempo to rapid-fire very smoothly.  The song is a story about a girl who he apparently just has met and how they are staying up all night driving and dancing in his pickup truck. 




I must mention that throughout the performance, the P.C. Richard & Son Theater really helped showcase Luke’s performance.  It is a small stage, but had the perfect amount of room for Luke to do his patented “Elvis-type” dance moves that he has become famous for.  Further, the intimate style of the venue had every fan from the front row to the back feel like they were getting a private performance.  The acoustics in the theater were flawless and I overheard many fans ranting and raving about how much they enjoyed their experience there. 




Luke, always the charmer, decreed to the crowd that he wanted to go “honkey-tonking on Broadway tonight.  This song will start it.  iHeartradio will have some frisky country girls.”  He obviously was alluding to his smash hit “Rain Is A Good Thing”.  The entire crowd was singing along as Luke sang and danced.  The energy of both the band and the crowd were at its peak and Luke immediately took his cue to up the ante once more.




The speakers began to play a hip-hop auto tune (robot voice) of “Country Girl Shake It For Me” and everyone knew what was next.  Luke and the band let the auto tune say its phrase a few times and then ripped right into their original country version.  Everyone in the New York City crowd was either clapping along with both hands above their head or fist-pumping ala the Jersey Shore cast.  Luke put his guitar down, grabbed the microphone, went to the front of the stage and partied along with the crowd to his new mega-hit. 




He closed the night out with what he called “a good old fashion cover song”.  To the crowd’s pleasant surprise he belted out a great rendition of Brooks & Dunn’s former platinum hit “Play Something Country”.  Again he had everyone singing and wailing their arms.  As the consonant performer that Luke Bryan is, he had everyone that night smiling and dancing along right back with him.  The only question was: did the crowd have more fun or did Luke himself?




Moreover, as an added bonus, Luke announced he would wait outside the door to give an autograph to every single person in the building.  Not only does his talent shine through his music and his energy flow through his performances, but he treats his fans with a respect that is unlike any other artist in any genre of music. 




I would like to thank countrymusicislove.com to for giving me the opportunity to attend such a private event, as well as iHeart Radio, Vanessa Wojtusiak, and Clear Channel Radio for their astounding hospitality.

The above pictures are courtesy of iHeartRadio / Mark Gong.





Setlist:
1) Someone Else Calling You Baby
2) Drunk On you
3) I Don’t Want This Night To End
4) Rain Is A Good Thing
5) Country Girl (Shake It For Me)
6) Play Something Country (Brooks & Dunn Cover)