The CMAs, the Zac Brown Band, and the Other Side of the Stage

Editor’s note: This is an example of Blog Post #5.

On the week leading up to November 4th, I made sure I got all my assignments completed so I could clear my schedule on that Wednesday night to watch the entire CMA broadcast. This would be the second year of a tradition that I started with fellow classmate, Matt Wills. We only had one yet very serious rule: NO TALKING (okay maybe at a whisper but nonetheless, we had learned our lesson from last year).

FullSizeRenderAs the night went on, there were far more critiques of performances than there were appraisals; however, it was the best Country Music Awards broadcast I have seen because of one man: Chris Stapleton. Usually I’m a big fan of underdogs but that wasn’t the reason I was rooting for Stapleton that night. A few weeks before, Matt and I were lucky enough to experience the powerful vocalist at an intimate 200-person concert in New Braunfels. When he won Best New Artist of the Year, Matt and I cheered and hugged like our favorite team had just won the game in the last second of overtime. His victories that night, along with his Justin Timberlake performance, proved that country music still has soul. Chris’ triumph that night wasn’t just a personal triumph but also one for Country music.

One of my least favorite performances that night was from one of my all-time favorite artists, Zac Brown. Being such dedicated country fans as you have come to learn through our blog posts, Matt and I decided to give Zac another chance when he performed at the 360 amphitheater on November 8th. Although it wasn’t as intimate as Stapleton’s performance in New Braunfels, Brown put on a great show that showcased his versatility as a musician. He busted out crowd-pleasers like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Let It Be.” My favorite performance of the night was when he played “Colder Weather.” By the end of the night, I was so excited to have seen one of my musical heroes but to be honest; I was a little disappointed with the song selection. Adding several covers meant that Brown had to leave out originals like “Whatever It Is,” “Keep Me In Mind,” and my personal favorite off his new album, “Bittersweet.” Regardless of his song selection, it was a valuable experience learning and observing one of the best entertainers in the Country music format.

IMG_4175This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to fly to San Jose to see two Garth Brooks shows and to play a post-show concert for KRTY, a big San Jose Country station. While I could spend the rest of the blog describing the Garth show, I’m going to be a little selfish and talk about my show! The event was held at San Jose’s Broken Spoke, a honkytonk just like the one in Austin. Walking in through the back door, I had no idea what to expect. The place was packed. I went on stage, with just me and a guitar, after a full band. Not only was the band a tough act to follow, but so was everyone’s highlight of the night, Garth Brooks. I kicked off the solo set with an original, “Make Our Own Fun.” It was incredible to see people in the crowd immediately start two stepping. They picked it up each song as I went from “Good Directions” to my single “Damn Good Time” then to “Wagon Wheel.” I finished off the night with outstanding crowd reception of Garth’s “Friends In Low Places.” It was incredible witnessing the two-stepping experience from the other side of the stage. I was even able to sneak in a dance after my set.FullSizeRender-2


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 5, Reflection

4 Responses to The CMAs, the Zac Brown Band, and the Other Side of the Stage

  1. Hannah Evans

    Awesome post! I’m really glad you finally wrote about one of your shows. It’s really cool to get that perspective on country music. I’m so jealous of all of the concerts you’ve seen lately and the fact that you got to watch the whole CMA show. I’m surprised you didn’t like Zac Brown’s show and I wish you wrote more about why. It’s cool that you and Matt are such good friends and have gotten to experience a lot of these things together. I unfortunately don’t have the luxury of having too many country-music-loving friends! Thanks for sharing–you gave some really great insight and a fresh perspective. Good luck in the future!

  2. Matt Wills

    It’s a little weird commenting on an article I’m in, but I thought it was really well written. I thought Chris Stapleton deserved every single one of those awards, and it was awesome to see how humble he was when he was accepting them. It’s really cool to hear what being an artist in the country music industry is really like, I feel like we often don’t get to hear that perspective in class and I think that hearing about real artists’s insight is really valuable. I’m glad to hear that everything is taking off and going well with your music!

  3. Abby Bourland

    Your introduction in your blog post made me laugh! I have heard of Chris Stapleton in class, but never outside of it. Your blog post inspired me to listen to his music! I wonder what made him do the performance with Justin Timberlake, like why him? I thought it was surprising that you didn’t like the performance by the Zac Brown Band. What made it so bad? I don’t think I am a good judge of country music, so I am curious about why it was your least favorite performance. That is beyond cool that you flew to San Jose to play!! You are awesome! Congrats on all of your accomplishments, and great blog post!

  4. Talia

    I could so picture you and Matt doing this! I really enjoyed reading this. For me I’m glad Chris has got all this new attention as well. I was a fan of his before the CMA’s but not a huge fan. I knew I liked his sound and him but with the recent attention I learned more about him and his music. I am very glad others are seeing how great of an artist he is. Regarding Zac Brown I also wasn’t much of a fan of his CMA performance and overall don’t know a ton of Zac Brown songs besides his basics from the beginning. It was actually when I got to peer review your paper on his song “Bittersweet” that I began looking back into the band. They still aren’t my favorite but they are still talented and deserve their place in country music. Regarding your music Tyler, I am glad I can call you a friend before you become all famous because I know you are the next big thing. Its so awesome to be able to see a young artists journey. I think having you in our class really helped give us a special perspective. I enjoyed this blog post very much. Keep it up Tyler!

Leave a Reply