Country singer Lee Brice is the headlining act at the 2011 Beaufort Water Festival this Saturday night at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
“It will be a rocking show,” said Brice, whose music video “Love Like Crazy” was nominated for a 2011 CMT “Breakthrough Video of the Year” award but did not win.
Brice, who lives in Nashville but grew up in Sumter, said he is looking forward to “coming home.”
“I am a boy from South Carolina who worked his butt off, so I am a country boy,” Brice said. “I grew up that way. I am a country singer.”
While his upbringing in a rural part of the state defined his identity has a country singer, Brice said his musical influences include a diversity of artists. If you asked him to name those influences, he would answer with Garth Brooks and Hank Williams Jr., but also Coldplay, John Mayer, Brian McKnight, Tom Petty, 3 Doors Down, Whitney Houston, Edwin McCain and Ray Charles.
“I’m really like most kind of people, listening to a lot of different kinds of music,” Brice said. “With those influences, one day I might write a bluesy song or a rock song or a stone-cold country song.”
Although Brice does some writing while on the road, most of his creative work occurs back in his studio in Nashville. While those musical influences factor into lyric and melody creation, Brice said much of his inspiration comes from people closer to Beaufort than the Volunteer State.
“The people are me,” Brice said of his inspirational upbringing and of revisiting his roots. “It still is in me and it comes out of me and that is what makes it so special, not just to see South Carolina, but to see people and rejuvenate with South Carolina.”
Brice said he has already recorded four songs for his sophomore album and follow-up to his 2010 album “Love Like Crazy,” whose title track holds the record for the longest chart run on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart (55 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 3). He said he has a few more festivals this summer before a tour this fall.
“I’m just so proud to be from here in South Carolina,” Brice said. “And man it is just exciting to come home — I can’t wait, it will be fun.”
IF YOU GO
• WHEN: 8-11:30 p.m. (gates open at 7 p.m.) Saturday
• WHERE: Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Beaufort
• COST: $20
• DETAILS: www.bftwaterfestival.com
The rugged sound of steel guitar and fiddle, the images of fields and farms, allusions to heartbreak and hard work… You can’t miss the fact that Lee Brice is country all the way.
It’s in his voice – think of it as honey trickling through lines of melody etched in leather – and in the images it conjures, of “country girls and redneck boys” anticipating the night to come in the sunset glow of a Dairy Queen (“Sumter County”), of growing up “on the edge of a cornfield” (“Picture of Me”).
And that makes one detail in his dream seem especially surprising.
“Ten years from now,” he says, smiling at the idea, “I’d love to hear my songs on the radio – on the rap stations, not just country.”
This sounds absurd, but only until you remember what made Lee’s debut CD, Love Like Crazy, one of the strongest debuts in any genre over these past several years. If anybody can make this happen, it’s this young man from backcountry South Carolina. His voice, his sound, even his wide-open grin are as country as they come – but his view of life is much broader than that.
Begin with his taste in music. Ask him to name the artists who influenced him, and he’ll answer with Garth Brooks and Hank Junior, sure, but also Coldplay, John Mayer, Brian McKnight, Tom Petty, 3 Doors Down, Whitney Houston, Edwin McCain, Ray Charles … a list you might assemble by grabbing randomly at bins as you wander through the Tower closing sale.
But Brice insists that something ties all these artists together: “They’re all great, which appeals to me because I want to make every song I do as great as I can, too. I’m not comparing myself to them in any way, but I want the same thing that I love in what they do: They all make music that you can believe in.”
Brice took a big step toward his dream with his debut album. This is music that takes you to special places, from the farms that he worked as a kid to the dirt roads where he and his buddies would spin their wheels and race for the smiles of their girlfriends. He has that knack for making memories come alive that he sensed in the songs of his heroes.
It took him a while to figure out who those heroes were. While most people his age across America were tuning in to MTV, Brice was growing up on gospel, as sung by his mother and her side of the family. His Aunt Henrietta played the piano, and through the singing she did with her sisters, Lee built his own music on the rock of the church.
Lee Brice is in the midst of the 2011 Country Throwdown tour with headliner Willie Nelson. Each night, Brice is playing for large amphitheaters packed with rowdy country music fans who know how to have a good time. What better way to test new songs for his next album!
In recent weeks, Brice has been performing a brand-new song he wrote called ‘Beer,’ and by the sound of the crowd’s reaction night after night, the singer has high hopes that it will be the next single.
“It’s been going over awesome,” Brice tells Taste of Country. “In fact, [Saturday, June 25] I took a video [from onstage] just to send to my label to make sure that they understand how good it is [laughs]! The first time the [crowds] even hear the song, they’re chanting the song with me before it’s over. That’s a good sign, you know what I mean? I think it’s going to rock on the radio, so I’m hoping that it can be the next single.”
Brice will have more opportunities to test ‘Beer’ out on the Throwdown crowds, as the tour will wrap in July. Although the trek, which also features Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, Craig Campbell, Brantley Gilbert and Lukas Nelson, kicked off back in May, Brice still has to pinch himself that he’s on tour with one of his musical heroes.
“Being out on tour with someone like Willie is just unbelievable,” Brice says with a smile and shake of his head. “Being on tour with Willie is something I would never would even see happening. When I was growing up, I was thinking man, I want to do this … I want to be a singer and a writer and this and that, but I never considered that I would ever be able to have a chance to come tour with Willie! Then, on top of that, my buddies are out here, too, so it’s just the best of all the worlds for me. We’re just enjoying ourselves.”
Brice is managing to get a little “work” done while on the tour as well. He’s the accomplished songwriter responsible for Garth Brooks‘ ‘More Than a Memory,’ Tim McGraw‘s ‘Still,’ and the Eli Young Band‘s ‘Crazy Girl,’ and he’s has been joining forces with Brantley Gilbert, who in his own right has penned Jason Aldean‘s hits ‘My Kinda Party’ and ‘Dirt Road Anthem.’
“Me and Brantley have started three or four [songs] out here on this thing,” notes Brice. “We got about halfway through them. We’re going to meet back up to finish them. Things like that, these days, I don’t like to rush a song, you know? It’s like with ‘Crazy Girl,’ we didn’t rush it, but it came together really quick. We had time to sit there and work it out. Brantley and I have been getting a bunch of inspiration … a bunch of cool starts on things that I think have big potential to be some cool songs. And man, he’s such a great guy. He’s a talented guy. I’m excited to be actually hanging with him a little bit. He’s so hip and so cool. That’s a part of what his talent is. He just knows how to connect with folks, and I love it.”
Following the Throwdown Tour, Brice will headline some of his own dates before heading back out on the CMT Tour this fall with Luke Bryan, Josh Thompson and Matt Mason. “That’s going to be rockin’!” Brice says of the next tour. “We’re excited!”
Lee Brice invites servicemen from VR-57 out of Naval Air Station North Island (San Diego, CA) up on stage while performing in Del Mar, CA on June 23, 2011 on Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown Tour.
Lee Brice couldn't be more excited about one of this weekend's stops on his national tour with country legend Willie Nelson.
“I'm coming home,” said the South Carolina native, his voice crackling with anticipation.
Brice, who grew up in Sumter and later attended Clemson University, is one of the featured acts for Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown. The star-studded concert will be Friday at Charter Amphitheatre at Heritage Park in Simpsonville.
“Every time I get to come home, it's a treat,” Brice said. “And the fact that I'm on this big tour makes it a really proud moment.”
Brice, who describes himself as “one of those guys who's really proud of being from South Carolina,” has had plenty of remarkable achievements since moving to Nashville, Tenn., a decade ago.
In 2007, one of his music heroes — Garth Brooks — recorded a song that Brice co-wrote. “More Than a Memory” became the first single ever to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart.
Brice made country music history again last year when his single “Love Like Crazy” broke a record set by Eddy Arnold in the late 1940s. Brice's hit stayed on the Billboard country chart for more than 54 weeks, the mark Arnold established with his classic “Bouquet of Roses.”