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

The Civil Wars Serenade New York City

The Civil Wars
Town Hall – New York City
October 27, 2011

The Civil Wars took to the stage in New York City on October 27, 2011 at the historic Town Hall, and did not disappoint in the least.  It was fitting that this band picked such an old music venue on a night which was dark, cold and dreary.  Their music is hauntingly beautiful in a charming, old fashioned kind of way. 

The Civil Wars is a duo consisting of Joy Williams and John Paul White, who explained that they met in Nashville at a simple songwriting session.  They blend their distinct voices to create their own form of Americana/folk/alt-country music.  Their live show was very simple as  John Paul played an acoustic guitar while Joy mainly sang along with him.  She occasionally sat and played the piano, but mainly stood beside her co-part.  There were no flashing lights or high production effects.  Instead, the duo lets their music do the entertaining – and their fans greatly appreciate that. 

I was blown away by how amazing they sounded live and how their voices blend so well together.  Their music truly is unlike anything today’s music has to offer.  They were fantastic on the dark “Barton Hollow” and the beautiful “20 Years”.  John Paul had a plethera of jokes for the crowd between songs and Joy danced on stage in an adorable and playful manner. 

What was most impressive was their very unique cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which served as the first song of their encore (a video clip can be seen below).  The set flowed perfectly and the duo sounded incredible.  They have an extremely simple, yet likeable stage presence.  If you have not heard The Civil Wars yet, you are in store for a refreshing musical experience. 

Setlist:

1) Tip of My Tongue
2) Forget Me Not
3) From This Valley
4) 20 Years
5) I’ve Got This Friend
6) My Father’s Father
7) Barton Hollow
8) Falling
9) Go
10) I Want You Back
11) Henry
12) To Whom It May Concern
13) Birds of a Feather
14) Disarm (Smashing Pumpkins Cover Song)
15) Poison & Wine
Encore
16) Billie Jean (Michael Jackson Cover Song)
17) Dance Me To the End of Love (Leonard Cohen Cover Song)

Videos:

20 Years
Barton Hollow

Billie Jean 




Dierks Bentley Feels at Home in New York City

Dierks Bentley
Country & Cold Cans Tour
featuring Jerrod Niemann and Eli Young Band
Irving Plaza, New York City
October 21, 2011

Dierks Bentley brought his Country & Cold Cans Tour to the Big Apple for two nights this October.  I was in attendance for the second of the two shows and you could tell he felt right at home.  Last year he had a four night residency in NYC, playing a few different venues while promoting his Bluegrass album “Up on the Ridge”.  I attended two of those shows as well as two of his shows on the Jagermeister Tour, one of which he brought me and my wife up on stage (see http://www.countrymusicislove.com/2011/03/fan-story-ryan-amy-dierks-bentley.html ) – so I am very familiar with how Dierks operates.  Tonight was no different, if anything, he took the decible level up one more notch.

Upon arriving at the Iriving Plaza, located in the heart of Union Square NYC, there was a line wrapped in front of the building and around which went on for another three blocks.  It was a quite a site to see so many hyped up country fans dressed in boots, plaid shirts, and trucker hats lined up on the streets of NYC.  The first act on the bill was the Eli Young Band.  I must admit I did not think I knew many of their songs, but once their set was off and running, I was quite familiar with most of their tunes. 

Their lead singer has a great voice and their songs are full of memories from their hometown.  Songs such as “When It Rains”, “Only the Love Songs”, and “Crazy Girl” have had a decent rotation on country radio and were very impressive live.  The band is not flashy, but not at all dull, not down home country, but not hipster – their look was very similar to their music.  I look forward to seeing them again and buying their cd collection as well.

Next up was Jerrod Niemann.  I had purchased Judge Jerrod’s cd the day it came out large in part for his remake hit of “Lover, Lover”, but this was the first time I have been able to see him live.  And he did not disappoint in the least.  He was extremely energetic and dynamic.  The crowd really responded and the New York City venue started to transform into a Nashville Honky-Tonk. 

Jerrod Niemann has a very strange look.  He has long messy hair and wears a very different hat compared to most country singers and he backed by a band mixed with predominately older gentlemen that had people raising their eye-brows.  Nonetheless, people must learn to not judge a book by its cover, because the Judge and his Jury (as he referred to them) could rock. 

He sang many of his songs off his cd including “What Do You Want”, “One More Drinking Song” and “Lover, Lover” and threw in a blues song by Stevie Ray Vaughn “Pride and Joy” and Garth Brooks’ “Good Ride Cowboy”, which Jerrod actually wrote for him.  Jerrod was high energy with a lot of drinking songs and interaction with the crowd.  He was at his best when he had just the microphone in his hand and was up in the front of the stage.  I look for big things from him in the future and really was impressed by his set.

After a brief intermission, the lights went low and the crowd started to scream.  Dierks has created quite a love affair with New York City after his four night stand last year and his double night run this Fall.  Of course, the Will Ferrell impersonator was in attendance (if you attended last year’s shows you know what I am talking about) and I saw a lot of familiar faces from the past NYC shows. 

Dierks hopped on stage and ripped into a new song called “Country Cold Cans” which is a high energy song with a lot of country references (from pick up trucks to trucker hats).  I expect this song will be on his upcoming album which is rumored to have a winter 2012 release. 

Irving Plaza was absolutely jammed packed while Dierks was on stage and people were going crazy during his set.  Dierks has a patented move where jumps straight up and down on stage and the crowd responded by bouncing up and down with him each and every time he hopped.  He brought out his full catalog of hits from “Feel That Fire” to “Every Mile a Memory” to “Sideways” and his energy level was at an all time high.

To my delight, he even sang a few songs off his bluegrass album such as “Up On the Ridge” and “Bottle to the Bottom” and sang a few new songs, entitled “5 1 5 0” and his newest single “Home”.  “Home” is a patriotic song, not in the flag waving way, but more of an ode to America and its natural beauty.  He was very controlled and passionate during this song and the crowd responded with a slew of “U S A” chants upon its finish. 

I have seen a countless number of country music concerts and Dierks is as good of a performer as anyone out there.  He has a natural interaction and energy that gives him a fun-loving vibe.  His career path is a bit confusing because he has the hits and persona to fill arenas, but yet he seems to stick to the mid-sized ballroom type venues.  I would love to see Dierks’ label allow him to embark on an Arena tour, he would have no problem selling well. 

Dierks finished off his encore with his two biggest hits to date “Free and Easy” and “What Was I Thinking” and the crowd applauded him for what seemed like ten minutes.  Dierks was overwhelmed with the applause and bowed with his band multiple times.  The speakers then played “Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the entire crowd began to jump straight up and down “Dierks-style” and he, of course, responded as you would expect. 

On this night, in New York City, you could tell Dierks felt comfortable as if it was a second Home.  I expect him to keep coming back to the Big Apple as he really seems to have a great time on stage during his shows here.  Dierks, we await your new cd and cannot wait to have you back in the City that never sleeps. 

Setlists:

Jerrod Niemann

1) How Can I Be So Thirsty
2) Down In Mexico
3) Baseball Song
4) Good Ride Cowboy
5) What Do You Want
6) Buckin’ Song
7) Pride & Joy
8) Get What You Deserve
9) Everclear
10) Lover, Lover

Dierks Bentley

1) Country Cold Cans
2) Feel That Fire
3) Am I The Only One (with an extra verse)
4) Every Mile a Memory
5) Tried to Stop Your Leaving
6) Sideways
7) 5 1 5 0
8) Tried To Stop Your Leaving
9) How Am I Doing
10) Up On the Ridge
11) Bottle to the Bottom
12) Home
13) Lot of Leaving Left To Do
14) Come a Little CLoser
Encore:
15) Wish You Were Here
16) Free and Easy Down the Road I Go
17) What Was I Thinking

VIDEOS:

Dierks Bentley – “Home”
Dierks Bentley: “Up On The Ridge”

Dierks Bentley – “Am I The Only One”
Jerrod Niemann – “One More Drinking Song”
Dierks Bentley – “What Was I Thinking”

Kenny Chesney and The Zac Brown Band Prove to be Giants at the Meadowlands

Kenny Chesney’s Goin’ Coastal Tour
New Meadowlands Stadium
August 13, 2011
with Zac Brown Band, Billy Currington, & Uncle Kracker

On August 13, 2011, Kenny Chesney brought his Goin’ Coastal Tour to New Jersey.  This show was special for a great number of reasons.  First off, Kenny is one of the few artists of ANY genre of music that can fill Stadiums up across the country and this was no exception.  That steamy Saturday in East Rutherford, New Jersey a record breaking crowd was on hand to see the country crooner and his large list of guests.  This particular show sold just over 55,000 tickets.  Not since country legends Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard came around in 1983 had a country concert in New Jersey sold over 50,000 tickets.  This show passed that show’s number in attendance.  Sure Kenny is one of the best in the business today, but having the Grammy Award Winning and multi-talented Zac Brown Band on the bill with him sure helped with sales quite a bit.  Throw in Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker as openers and this made the Goin’ Coastal Tour the must see tour of the summer. 

Uncle Kracker and Billy Currington opened up their shorter sets with lots of familiar music.  Uncle Kracker did his biggest hits such as “Follow Me” and “Smile” and stole some material from his old touring buddy, Kid Rock, as well as Kenny Rogers.

Billy Currington proved to be a crowd favorite with lots of summer drinking music such as “People Are Crazy” and “Pretty Good At Drinking Beer”.  Billy used the stage and the catwalk in a slow walk, but the crowd really responded to his easy-going music.  He closed out his set with “Good Directions”, a huge hit that was co-penned by Luke Bryan – and the crowd sang along with every word.  By the time Billy was finishing up his set, I looked up from the floor to the 3 tiers of sections in the New Meadowlands Stadium and the place was absolutely packed. 

I overheard many people who were tailgating in the parking lot state they were more excited to see the Zac Brown Band than the opener and for good reason.  This band has released 8 singles to country radio and all of them have hit number 1 on the mediabase and billboard country charts.  Zac Brown, naturally, is the lead singer and captain of the band.  However, he makes sure that the crowd knows this is not a front man act – that they are whole band.  And the entire band had their own time to shine on this day.  Zac belted out his amazing vocals and intense guitar playing skills on hits like “Toes”, “As She’s Walking Away” and “Highway 20 Ride”.   Jimmy DeMartini, the fiddle player/violinst, absolutely memorized the crowd with his ridiculous talent.  He had tons of solos such as “Quite Your Mind” and “Free” and even used his fingers on the fiddle on “Where the Boat Leaves From”.  People were shaking their heads with their jaws dropped when the spotlight was on Jimmy.

Even members like Clay Cook and Coy Bowles got their “rock star” moments on the song “Who Knows” which is essentially a ten minute jam out song with two minutes of vocals.  The drummer, Chris Fryar, changed his clothes halfway through the band’s set from a New York Jets jersey to a New York Giants jersey – which made fans of both teams smile in admiration.  Finally, John Driskell got to add some vocals on “It’s not Okay” and had the crowd dancing and laughing at the lyrics.

The band had a large group of the United States military come to the front of the stage before the song “Free” and they stayed throughout the final songs which happened to be a mash-up of “America, The Beautiful” and the band’s biggest single to date, “Chicken Fried”. 

The Zac Brown Band oozes with talent, passion, emotional and unbelievable music ability.  This band will be around for a very, very long time – and will be headlining their own Stadium Tour sometime soon, mark my word. 

After a brief delay, the rain started to fall and the crowds retreated for cover and beer refills.  But, when the lights went dark, the crowds ran to their seats – not even caring it was still raining.  And the stage curtains raised, but Kenny Chesney appeared on a raised swing in the back of the Stadium, floating above the 55,000 cheering fans.  He sang the entire first song, a recent number 1 single, “Live A Little” while flying above the crowd.

Once he landed, he was off and running, literally. The man used every inch of the massive catalk and stage.  The lights went crazy in every direction and the huge interactive screens portrayed Kenny in different sides and angles throughout the concert.  Kenny smashed through his hits and recents songs off his newest album, “Hemmingway’s Whiskey”.

Kenny Chesney is the penultimiate performer and he really showed it this night.  From his acoustic takes on “You and Tequila” to his giant hits like “I Go Back” and “Keg in the Closet”, Kenny had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He cranked out hit after hit after hit, each song performed with just as much energy as the one before. 

Kenny brought out all of his opening acts for certain select songs and covers. He of course performed “When the Sun Goes Down” with Uncle Kracker, which is one of the best summer concert songs anyone has ever written.  He kept Kracker on stage for their take on The Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider” and even did their best hip-hop/country mash-up to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”.

Kenny then surprised the crowd and absolutely shocked me, when he changed genres up completely and sang “Blister in the Sun”, a Violent Femmes Cover.  For this, he even brought the original songwriter of the song, Mark Tamburino, out for the song. 

Once the Encore came, Kenny ripped right into “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” and brought out  Billy Currington for some help.  Unbelievably, the best part of the night was yet to come:

 

At this point of the show, Kenny brought out the Zac Brown Band as they teamed up with Chesney and his band during eight unbelievable songs.  Zac and Kenny took to the front and sang two of the famous country band, Alabama’s biggest hits: “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas”.  They teamed up for each other’s “summery” singles “Knee Deep” and “Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven”.

Then for good measure they brought up the New York Yankees’ slugger Nick Swish to help them sing “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band.  Any fan of baseball knows how much a swagger and overall enthusiasm Nick Swisher has and he was full of smiles and fist pumped on stage. 

Zac and Kenny and their bands finished things out with a Bob Marley, Sublime and Tom Petty Cover.  They even brought ZBB-protege Sonia Leigh, the New York Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, Kenny’s mother, and others on stage to help sing and finish the party out.

Nick Swisher:

Rex Ryan:

Overall, the show was long (almost six and a half hours of music), but never slowed down.  Zac and Kenny electrified the crowd and all 55K went home happy – tired and very happy.  If there was any indication that country music was alive and well in the Garden State, you just had to look at the parking lot that became the New Jersey turnpike.  But despite the traffic and rain that night, you could tell that everyone walked away satisfied.  There are only a few more dates left on this tour and I am attending one again at the end of August – I would suggest any and all to check it out. 

 Kenny Chesney Setlist:

  1. Live a Little
  2. Reality
  3. Summertime
  4. Beer In Mexico
  5. The Woman With You
  6. Big Star
  7. I Go Back
  8. No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem
  9. Anything But Mine
  10. There Goes My Life
  11. You and Tequila
  12. Living In Fast Forward
  13. Young
  14. Happy Birthday to Ken (Chesney’s road manager)
  15. Somewhere With You
  16. Don’t Happen Twice
  17. Never Wanted Nothing More
  18. Out Last Night
  19. When the Sun Goes Down with Uncle Kracker
  20. Midnight Rider – The Allman Brothers Band Cover
  21. Cowboy – Kid Rock Cover with Uncle Kracer
  22. Blister in the Sun – Violent Femmes Cover with the songwriter Mark Tamburino
  23. How Forever Feels
  24. The Boys of Fall
  25. Encore:
  1. She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy with Billy Currington
  2. Dixieland Delight – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
  3. If You’re Gonna Play in Texas  – Alabama Cover with Zac Brown Band
  4. Knee Deep – with the Zac Brown Band
  5. Everybody Wants to Go To Heaven – with Zac Brown Band
  6. The Joker – Steve Miller Band cover with moreZac Brown Band and appearance on-stage by Nick Swisher of New York Yankees
  7. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley Cover with Zac Brown Band
  8. Caress Me Down – Sublime Cover with Zac Brown Band
  9. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty Cover with Zac Brown Band
Zac Brown Band Setlist:
  1. As She’s Walking Away
  2. Toes
  3. It’s Not Okay
  4. Where the Boat Leaves From
  5. Crazy Love
  6. Islands in the Steam Cover
  7. Highway 20 Ride
  8. No Hurry
  9. Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels Cover
  10. Quiet Your Mind
  11. My Name is Money – with Sonia Leigh
  12. Colder Weather
  13. Keep Me In Mid
  14. Who Knows
  15. Whatever It Is
  16. Settle Me Down
  17. Whiskey’s Gone
  18. Free
  19. America The Beautiful Cover
  20. Chicken Fried
Billy Currington Setlist:
  1. Thats How Country Boys Roll
  2. I Want To Be A Hillybilly
  3. I Got A  Feeling
  4. Love Done Gone
  5. Pretty Good At Drinking Beer
  6. All Day Long
  7. Let Me Down Easy
  8. Don’t
  9. Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr. Cover
  10. People Are Crazy
  11. Must Be Doing Something Right
  12. Good Directions
Uncle Kracker Setlist:
  1. Little While
  2. Drift Away
  3. Follow Me
  4. The Gambler – Kenny Rogers Cover
  5. Good To Be Me
  6. All Summer Long – Kid Rock Cover
  7. Smile

Videos:

1. Quiet Your Mind – Fiddle Solo – Zac Brown Band

2. Dixie Land Delight – Kenny Chesney with the Zac Brown Band

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)



Eric Church – CD Release Party in NYC: “Chief: Deconstructed”

ERIC CHURCH
Cheif: Deconstructed
Album Release Party
Bowery Ballroom, New York City
July 26, 2011

I had the pleasure of attending the cd release party of country music star: Eric Church.  The event was dubbed “Chief: Deconstructed” and was held at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on July 26, 2011.  This was the same day that his third studio album was released entitled “Chief”.  A bonus for the sold out crowd was that each ticket-holder received a hard copy of the album. 

Fans who are familiar with Eric Church’s live shows all know that they are full of adrenaline with chest pounding and boot stomping.  This night would be very different.  Upon arriving to the intimate venue, the stage had no drum set and no amplifiers; instead, it only had five stools.  The title of the show was “Chief: Deconstructed”, so no one had any idea what to expect.

It was very clear once Eric and four other men took to the stage and sat down, each with an acoustic guitar in hand.  This would not be the energetic and often hyper Eric Church show, instead it would soon become an intimate look inside Eric Church “the song writer”.  The other four men were Ryan Tyndell, Jeff Hyde, Luke Laird, and Casey Beathard.  Each of these men not only helped sing the eleven tracks of the new release, but were also Eric’s co-writers for the album. 

The show did not follow the exact tracklisting of the album.  However, each song off of “Chief” was played.  Eric started with Ryan Tyndell as they sang “Keep On” and followed it up by singing the ultra-country “Jack Daniels” with Jeff Hyde.  Jeff is not only a co-writer, but also is in Eric’s band.  The crowd already knew the words to this song as they sang along during the chorus.  Eric has been playing this song during some of his shows over the past year. 

In fact, Eric sang each of the songs as a duet with the co-writer who helped him write each of the songs.  The only songs he did by himself included the third song of the night, “Creepin'”, and the last, “Country Music Jesus”.  “Creepin'” has the potential to be a big radio hit for Eric as it is fast paced and rocks pretty hard. 

Luke Laird next sang “Over When Its Over” which is a nice song with a catchy hook.  Then Eric introduced Casey Beathard as “my favorite songwriter in Nashville”.  In fact, the song Casey sang next, “Like Jesus Does” is the first song Eric has ever recorded that he did not write or co-write.  Casey obviously explained that it was quite the honor for that achievement.  The crowd began to mysteriously chant “one more year”.  Eric caught on and quickly said “oh, is it because he looks like Brett Favre?”.  The crowd applauded and Eric laughed hysterically. 

“Like Jesus Does” is one of the standouts on the cd.  It is so radio friendly it is unbelievable.  I personally hope he releases it as a single at some point because I think it would shoot straight to number one. 

Eric next stated “we’ve played every place in America.  I’ve slept in every enviroment you can think of.  I am passionate of my music and right now we are the number one album in America.  It means so much to me and it is because of you guys I have this passion and we can do this.”  It was a great prelude to his next song “Springsteen”.  It is also a catchy tune that happens to be one of my favorites on the new album.  It includes Bruce Springsteen song titles cleverly placed throughout the track.  As always, you could heard different people in the crowd shout “Bruuuuuuuuuce”. 

Next Jeff Hyde sang “I’m Getting Stoned” which is a funny song about a man who found out his ex-girlfriend got married to someone else and he realizes he messed up.  The chorus is “she got a rock and I’m getting stoned”. 

Then Eric stated that the next song, “Hungover & Hard Up”, was his favorite on the new album.  It is a slower song about a man going through some struggles, all the while fighting off a hangover.  If this song isn’t pure country, I don’t know what is. 

Casey Beathard set up the background for the next song that was sung, “Homeboy”, which happens to be Eric’s new single on country radio.  Casey said he got the idea because his son was listening to some bad music on the radio and acting all tough so he said “what’s up homeboy?”  He then had that stuck in his mind and called up Eric to write the song.  He knew Eric was “the only person who could record the song”.  Eric and Casey let the crowd do most of the singing as everyone in the Bowery Ballroom that night seemingly knew the lyrics word for word.

Eric then spotted a sign in the crowd in which a young man was holding up that said “On My Bucket List: Take Shot with Eric Church”.  Eric actually brought the young man on stage, poured two shots of Jack Daniels and took it with him.  It set up the next song perfectly, “Drink In My Hand”.  It is a fun, easy-going song that I am sure will be heard at country music tailgate parties throughout America this summer. 

Finally, the last song of the night was “Country Music Jesus”.  Eric seemed to struggle with the lyrics and only sang half of the song, but maintained himself well.  For true fans of Eric Church, this night was quite special.  You did not get the energy of his normal rowdy live shows, nor the smoke and amplifiers.  Instead, you got a look inside the real song writer that he is – and got to hear the new tracks and the stories behind why they were written. 

As I listened to the studio album on my ride back home that night, it was amazing how different the songs sounded from the acousitc set.  Each of the songs were lyrically dynamic enough to sustain an enjoyable acoustic set, yet when the production and instruments were set to the songs, the music sounded that much better.  Overall, the album is phenomenal and I would highly recommend country music fans to purchase it.  And I will have a greater understanding and connection to the album after seeing the stripped down set that night at the Bowery Ballroom. 

Setlist:

1. Keep On
2. Jack Daniels
3. Creepin’
4. Over When It’s Over
5. Like Jesus Does
6. Springsteeen
7. I’m Getting Stoned
8. Hungover & Hard Up
9. Homeboy
10. Drink In My Hand
11. Country Music Jesus

Video Clips:

1) Jack Daniels
2) Creepin’