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Chase Rice
with Special Guest: Brian Davis

Sponsor: Super 8 of Kearney & La Fuente Mexican Restaurants
7:00pm Saturday, August 8th, 2015
Kearney Amphitheater

Price: $35.00 at the Gate

Chase Rice

When 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!"

Truthful, 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.


Don't 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.'"


As if on cue, Rice, who co-wrote the Hot 100-busting Florida Georgia Line single

"Cruise," 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 equal measure, 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.


It's 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 Tonight."


"The 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."


"Honestly, 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."


Along 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!"

Rice's 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.


"They 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."


Quite 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."


Rice, 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 down."


The 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 more meaningful."


And 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 going."

Brian Davis

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. Sometimes.

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 says.


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.

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