Sponsor: Super 8 of Kearney & La Fuente Mexican Restaurants
with Special Guest: Brian Davis
7:00pm Saturday, August 8th, 2015
Price: $35.00 at the Gate
he takes the stage to perform, Chase Rice pulls no punches. "You're gonna be
mine and I'm gonna be yours for an hour and a half. We're gonna be in each
other's face. If you don't like that, walk out the door." It's his M.O: take it
or leave it. Yes, the budding country star means business when he performs. And
the crowds that dutifullyyell every damn word back his way? They don't seem to
mind one bit. "I'm looking for people who are looking to have the best night of
their entire life," Rice says of his raucous, get-down-or-get-out live ragers.
"If you aren't here to party, I'm gonna make you party!"
unfiltered, unafraid to take every risk he encounters, Chase Rice is that rare
artist who means what he says and backs it up with equal measure. "I'm going to
speak the truth any way I can," says the singer-songwriter, who, without a song
on mainstream radio, saw his 2013 Ready Set Roll EP
top the iTunes Country charts and when its titular single hit the radio waves,
he watched it climb up the Billboard charts
and hit Gold before it even entered the Top 20, ultimately peaking in the Top 5
and scoring Platinum sales.
tell this man it's good enough, however. "Whatever it is. I've always been of
the mindset of 'Let's move on to the next one,'" says the 29-year-old,
hell-bent and firm in his resolve. "I've always been the guy to say 'I promise
you that's not going to be my biggest accomplishment in music.'"
if on cue, Rice, who co-wrote the Hot 100-busting Florida Georgia Line single
is rearing back for more with his new full-length, major-label LP Ignite The Night,
which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Country
Albums and No. 3 on the all-genre chart.
It's a genre-busting bruiser of an album that tackles tube tops and tears in
out via Columbia Nashville and his own Dack Janiels label. Rice laughs. "I wanted to push this album to a whole
other level," he says, and with wickedly racy songs like "Ride" buttressed up against
sentimental, reflective charmers like "Carolina Can," Rice is backing up his claim.
a sonic free-for-all, Ignite The Night:
see the electronic-drenched "Ready Set Roll;" or the big-buck arena-rock
bombast "50 Shades of Crazy;" even the swampy-bluesmeets- hip-hop banger "Do It
Like This" or the softer, mid-tempo ballad (and current single), "Gonna Wanna
sales and crowd singing back to me show that I am doing something right," Rice
offers. "And I can just keep giving the cold-shoulder to popular opinion."
from day one I wasn't going to let anybody tell me this wasn't gonna work,"
Rice says continuing, recounting several years spent pounding the pavement,
slowly elevating his shows from small-club gigs on the back of his 2012 album, Dirt Road Communion,
to opening slots on an arena tour with Dierks Bentley. "I don't care if people
call me 'bro-country' or they call me hip-hop or rock. All I care about is if I
walk onstage and people are screaming every word back to me."
the way, as he says, Rice transformed himself from "underground" to "that star,
or whatever you want to call it." Clearly, fame, and all its superfluous
trappings, as far as Rice is concerned, means little to him. It's all about
hitting the stage, delivering the goods and heading on his way. "I'll never
consider myself famous, but that's what people are saying, so whatever," he
says, chuckling. "We've gone from that underground artist to 'Oh, that's Chase
Rice, that guy who's on the radio.' And once you get on the radio you better
hold on tight!"
live show is an adrenaline shot of energy, conservative standards be damned. He
takes cues, in this regard, from his idols like Garth Brooks
and Kenny Chesney and, before them, the Highway Outlaws: Waylon Jennings,
Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash.
didn't call themselves that," he says of the Outlaws. "They were that because
they basically gave the finger to everyone telling them how to do it. Garth,
the same thing: he wanted his live show to be like Kiss."
simply, don't expect this Florida-born, North Carolina-raised,
football-playing, music-loving firestarter to go all Hollywood "I'm going to try to cling as tight
as I can to the other side of it - the non-fame, the underground," he explains.
"Because as soon as you start thinking of yourself as famous or a big deal,
there's probably a mountain you're about to fall down real quick. No matter how
big fame gets, I've got friends to kick my ass if I start getting out of line."
who following a football scholarship at University of North Carolina- Chapel
Hill, and a stint working on a NASCAR pit crew, decamped to Nashville and began
writing with the members of Florida Georgia Line, always had a knack when
growing up for recognizing what makes a quality song. But it was journaling in
high school, a practice he's maintained even as his touring life got crazy and
hectic, that helped him evolve into an artist with whom Nashville's most elite song crafters are
eager to break bread. "I've got literally eight stacks of my life in these
books," he says of his ever-mounting journals. "And it's just my life. I've
tried to do it every day. That started the process of my mind working. It's
allowed me to let my mind go. I can let the good out, let the bad out, write it
success of "Cruise" didn't hurt his reputation as a stellar songwriter. And
while he's quick to acknowledge an immense pride for being a part of the hit
single - "Hell yeah, I'm pumped about 'Cruise!' It's one of the coolest things
that's ever happened to me" - with Ignite The Night in
his back pocket, Rice is confident we haven't seen anything yet. "I've always
been of the mindset - it's from football - if you win a game against Miami, you've got to go
play Virginia Tech next week. Let's write something better. Let's write something
so Rice continues to hit the studio, take the stage each night, view each day
as an opportunity to make his mark. "I'm happy with how it's going," he says
modestly of a career about to blow. "I'm very happy with doing my club shows
right now. I mean, George
Strait didn't get to
number one in a year."
"Head down, eyes up," says Rice of what lies ahead. "Keep on
How does a country boy from tiny Bilboa,
North Carolina find himself an
apprentice to one of the greatest songwriters in country music? Ever heard of
Bilboa? Yes, it's that small. But you've heard of Harlan Howard, right? "I Fall
to Pieces?" THAT Harlan Howard.
Brian Davis isn't one to push himself or his music on someone. It just isn't
his style. Fortunately, what is his style is writing great rockers and party
anthems full of hot screaming guitar, booming bass and thumping drums.
On the other hand, his style is also writing emotive ballads laden with
picturesque lyrics that twist and turn phrases to carry the listener on a
musical journey of their own or Brian's life. Those...those are best interpreted
by Brian's pure masculine baritone and an acoustic guitar.
So, it's really not a case of having to force himself on anyone. It's more
like, "If you build it, they will come." If you write great songs, make great
music and sing from your heart, they will come. And they have most definitely
come. From playing all over his home state of North Carolina, to opening for
pal and frequent co-writer Brantley Gilbert on the Hell On Wheels tour-last
year and this year, Brian has taken his brand of rockin' country music from a
regional to a national level. His Tarheel fans are sitting back enjoying
knowing that they saw the evolution of one of the hottest new artists in the
format, while new fans are digging voraciously into his catalog that is already
six albums deep.
Almost as if he could forecast the future when he recorded it, his newest
album, Under the Influence, is almost a musical biography of Brian - both his
life and the evolution of his music. "I'm really proud of it," he beams. "We
managed to put a lot of things that are extremely important to me on this
record and tried to kind of balance it out. We've got things all the way from
'Under the Influence,' which people would assume, based on previous projects,
that we were talking about going out and just getting hammered, but it's not."
The tune is actually a musical homage to the music that influenced him, and the
list is vast and diverse. Early on, his grandfather introduced him to artists
like the legendary Gene Autry, while his father exposed him to the
contemporaries of his time like Alabama
and Hank Williams Junior. Then there was the music of his own youth. "I was a
reckless, rebellious redneck, not siding where my mom probably wanted me to a
lot of times," he admits. "I'd find myself listening to your typical AC/DC and
Guns & Roses." The funny thing was, Brian was also discovering and
developing a taste for music that was far from mainstream. Artists like Peter
Tosh and Bob Marley. "I just love music. I'm just a fan of music."
But it was more than just loving a great song. For Brian, it also became about
creating great music. So, he began to study it and study the process, which was
a relatively simple task. "My grandpa played all the honky-tonks where I'm from
and my dad did, too," he says with a smile. "I can remember from the time I was
six and seven-years-old I was in honky-tonks." By the time he was eight, his
dad was taking him to gigs and Brian was tuning their guitars. "I was on top of
the world," he says, "because I was tuning guitars for a hero of mine. All I
ever wanted to do was be like them because they had that thing. They could walk
into a room and pick up a guitar and people would just stop and listen. So, in
my head, I was doing something really important." And although Brian's mother
wasn't thrilled with her middle child hanging out in honky-tonks, to her
credit, she didn't discourage his pursuit of his passion. While Brian's dad never
chased a national music career, instead choosing to stay close to family, he
did write his own music and his son was a sponge observing the process and
began writing when he was very young. "The early stuff was terrible," he
laughs. "It was worse than terrible And then it got progressively better. And
then when I met Harlan Howard, it got a ton better because I started figuring
out how to do it the right way." Yes, Harlan Howard.
"Harlan Howard was the first person to offer me a publishing deal in town," he
smiles modestly. The story of how it happened is a sweet one:
"I was cleaning horse stalls in Brentwood and
Melanie Howard set up a meeting." Brian showed up with his guitar, but still
covered in horse manure, expecting to meet with Melanie. To his surprise,
Harlan strolled into the meeting as well. "I was supposed to be with just her
and he comes in and she says, 'If you don't mind, he's going to sit in on the
meeting.' And I'm thinking, 'Oh, F....' I sit down and he says, 'What have you
got son?' So I play him the one song. THE song. All of us have THE song. And he
smiled and said, 'What else you got son?' And I played him a second one. We
went four songs deep and after the fourth one he said, 'Do you want a record
deal here, son?' And I said, 'Yes I do.'"
The only snag came when Harlan asked him how much money he needed. Brian had
never even considered being paid for his doing what came so naturally. When
Howard offered him $375 a week, Brian balked saying, "Can I think about that? I
don't know if I need that much?" His humble upbringing and limited knowledge of
how the business operated had him thinking that he would have to pay the money
back, so he didn't want to take more than he needed.
Harlan became one of Brian's greatest mentors in the business, but others
followed and Davis
learned all that he could from each. "The only thing I've been really smart
enough to do in my life is listen to people that have been where I'm going," he
Influences that are heard on songs like the raucous "Bang, Bang," which touts
the simple country boy pleasure of shots, whether from a gun or a glass, or in
the dark "Another Man's Woman," which addresses the dismal destiny of a
cheater, or in the simply acoustic love song "Against the World." And influences
that are heard in the crowd-favorite "Lights Of My Hometown." "You see people's
reaction in the crowd and I think everybody, in their mind, goes to someone
that they lost," he says. "It just has so much power. It's been amazing and the
stories we've heard are awesome."
You see, for all of the in-your-face rockers or rebellious party anthems, Brian
is one of the sweetest souls on Music Row. He laughs, "I love the excitement
when people come up and, it's not like I'm some amazing person, but they say,
'Man, I can't believe it's you!' And I say, 'Well, I can't believe it's you!' I
always ask them their name and hug them because they they could have spent
their time and money on anything. And the fact that they chose me is massive in
my book...We do this to connect and when you have those kind of moments with
people, it makes everything make sense.