DSCN3761The Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn., is one of the best fairs anywhere! Year after year, the fair directors and board members, along with Forrest Surber (Forrest Fire Entertainment), spend countless hours finding us the best entertainment to bring to the main stage for fair week each August. Add to that a midway and fairgrounds packed with the best amusement rides, monster trucks, demolition derbies, pageants, talent competitions, exhibits, cattle, sheep, petting zoo, ‘fair food’ and so much more, and you know fair-goers are in for an awesome week.

Last night, Chris Janson was our headliner.  Everyone knows his songs, “Holdin’ Her”, “Power of Positive Drinkin’,”“Buy Me A Boat” and his current chart-climber, “Fix a Drink”, But, when Chris hit the stage last night, many of us learned a few things about this artist that we didn’t know before.  Some of the fans found out for the first time that Chris wrote “Truck, Yeah” (recorded by Tim McGraw), and he wrote “I Love This Life” (recorded by LoCash). Chris also wrote or co-wrote songs that were recorded by Hank Williams Jr., Parmalee, Joe Nichols, Tyler Farr, Randy Houser and many other artists. He isn’t just a singer/songwriter, he is a great musician who shared his talents not only with his guitar and harmonica, but also on drums.

Chris 5More than once during the last 10 years of writing Country’s Chatter, I have used the phrase ‘high-energy performance’ when I talk about a particular artist. But, I have never said ‘high-energy’ and meant it more than I do right now.  When Chris came out on stage  the first thing I though was ‘how am I going to get any good pictures of a kangaroo who had just swallowed a handful of jumping beans”. Now, if that image doesn’t paint a picture of a fun time, you aren’t paying attention.

Chris was on stage to have a good time– he was there to make sure his audience had fun.  When a performer comes out on stage with one of those “I’m here to party” attitudes, his audience is going to have fun!  He had a way of making fans feel like they were at a party in his living room, instead of with a group of strangers at a show.  If you weren’t enjoying your evening when you walked in, all you had to do was wait about 27 seconds into his set, and you were having the time of your life.

During the first song he spotted a very young fan who was already up dancing at her seat.  He couldn’t resist jumping off the stage, lifting her up and placing her center stage so she could dance for us.  She was having the time of her life.  And we loved watching. I’m sure she would have run around up there the entire show, if Chris wanted her to.

When his show was over, he had to get off the stage, change, and catch a plane.  Was THIS audience going to let that happen?  Without an encore?  I don’t think so.  I talked about how much energy Chris has, his fans had just as much.  It was as if that energy had transferred from Chris on stage, to the crowd in the stands.  He left, they cheered and screamed, and kept singing and dancing, and then … Chris Janson  (who had already changed his clothes and was ready to rush off to the airport) returned to the stage.  He thanked his audience for being a great audience, and told us that he had only done seven encores in his career.  Tonight, he said, would be his eighth.

DSCN3729He had already put in a full nights work, with every song in his set being up-tempo.  So, with the encore, he slowed it down. They were all quieter, slower, and an opportunity for a photographer to shoot a few pictures while the jumping bean had both feet on the ground.  And this was not a short encore.  He didn’t just come out and give us a song or two and run off again.   It was some great, real country music.  At the end of the encore, he jumped in a car, and with a police escort was rushed to Tri-Cities Airport for his flight. I have a feeling Chris hated leaving as much as we hated seeing him go.  He was having fun!  He brought his party to Gray, Tenn., and everyone enjoyed the party.

I have a great deal of admiration for this young man.  He actually looked out at the audience in the middle of his show, and said, “If you’re a Christian, raise your hand”.  A huge smile came to my face when he added, I mean if you believe Jesus Christ is your savior,  like I do.  (That is not a direct quote, but pretty much what he said). We have a number of artists who are proud to share their faith with their fans.  I’m really happy that we can add Chris to that list (which most of us know includes Josh Turner, Scotty McCreery, Morgan Wallen, Darryl Worley, and many,many more).

DSCN3622Joining Chris on stage were Justin Johnson, drums; Curtis McDonald, guitar; and, Will Martin on bass.  A great group of very talented musicians that made what we were hearing and seeing an even more enjoyable experience.  And, we have to mention his tour manager, Cam.  In my opinion, Cam has set the bar high for what a tour manager should be, and how he should act around the fans of the artist he is working for.  Cam was friendly, smiling, and had a personality that set him apart from most.  He even took time to come out to our local radio tent for a brief on-air interview with Marc Tragler (who was doing a live broadcast for WXBQ Radio), before he went backstage to do the work he needed to do.

DSCN3690In addition to Chris’s website, visit his Facebook page, and remember to ‘Like” it while you are there. He has a lot of other social media links on his website, so be sure to check those out as well.  And, you can follow him on Twitter @janson-chris.  If you aren’t already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, we’d love to have you.  You will find us @countryschatter.

Going to close this out with a few more pictures from last night.  Chris Janson had a tough act to follow – Our fair opened with Chris Lane, Eric Pasley, Brett Young and Clint Black before Chris came on board on Thursday night. I don’t think it would have mattered who he followed –he could not have been more impressive!  Time to go through pictures, and pick out the least blurred to share with all of you.  Like I said earlier, not easy to take pictures of something that never stops moving.  But, definitely had a good time trying!  (Again, thanks to friend, Beverly Campbell Hood, who is one of the best concert photographs you will ever run across.  Beverly has been helping Country’s Chatter for a long time, and we certainly appreciate her sharing her photos with us!  All photos in this article were taken by Beverly and Donna Rea).


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The Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn., is one of the best fairs anywhere! Year after year, the fair directors and board members, along with Forrest Surber (Forrest Fire Entertainment), spend countless hours finding us the best entertainment to bring to the main stage for fair week each August. Add...