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“Music itself is a great way of expressing how you feel, where you are in life, and the fact that it connects with other people and that it resonates with other people is kind of like by-product, a bonus. It’s really, really a cool thing to get to do. I saw that I had a chance to do that as my career, and I was like, ‘I’m going to make that happen,’” said country singer Chris Young.

This 6-foot-4 (incredibly attractive) young performer recently won USA Network’s acclaimed series “Nashville Star”, making him the most promising star to launch from the television series to date. “There’s been a lot of points where I’ve been like ‘Geez, this is getting really, really difficult for me to do that, and for it to be my career,’” he continued. “But you find a way to make it work, and I’m just glad I’m getting a chance like this.”

The chance he is getting is a national 34-city tour with the second-, third-, and fourth-place contestants, Casey Rivers, Nicole Jamrose, and Matt Mason respectively, not to mention a RCA record deal and a song on national country music radio stations. The tour will travel everywhere from New York and Maine to California and Las Vegas. The four finalists perform in reverse order of their finishes on the television show, and each show runs approximately 90 minutes. The most exciting thing for 21-year-old Young, however, is to be recognized.

“If they recognize me, that means they’ve heard of me before and most likely at least give a first listen to whatever I put out as far as music goes,” he said. “And that’s always a big deal, being an artist - that’s a big deal. Stuff’s happened to illustrate that recently. I was in Border’s bookstore here in Nashville and while I was there I ordered a coffee and something to eat. The guy set it down and he goes, ‘You’re good.’ I said, ‘Well, how much is it?’ And he said, ‘I know who you are, you’re good.’ Just freaked me out.’”

It wasn’t always like that for Young, who moved from his hometown of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to pursue a music career in Texas before auditioning for “Nashville Star”. “I guess I lived there about six months, playing gigs down there, fronting a house band at a club in Arlington, Texas, called “Cowboys”. Before that, I had been on and off in college and had pretty much decided that - I made really good grades and had scholarships and everything - but it really wasn’t my thing.”

Then Young decided to audition for Nashville Star. “I almost I didn’t audition this year. I had a friend set up my audition in Houston for me. I literally got on a plane, flew out there, auditioned in Houston. I was like alright, I’ve got to go at least try out, see what happens, because you never know.”

On the tour, the stop Young is most excited about is in his hometown, just 30 miles from Nashville, where he attended Middle Tennessee State University for a semester. “I’ve got friends that go to college at MTSU who for one reason or another, work or whatever, and just haven’t ever been able to make a show. And they are like, ‘I’m going to that.’ So that’s going to be really cool.”

Casey Rivers, who won second place in the competition, shares Young’s excitement about the impending tour. “It’s going to be a new experience for me, I’ve been singing for years, but never been on the road this long period of time, so I’m just looking forward to the whole experience.”

He is no stranger to singing in public, though. This blue-eyed country boy from the “sticks” of Linville, Texas, has been singing since he was three. “I’ve actually sung in front of large crowds. The thing about the “Nashville Star” experience is the fact of us being on national television. That was something I had to adjust to, and it was a great learning experience. Hopefully, there’s many more of that to come in the future. But, the large crowds, I like a larger crowd more than I do a small—I get more nervous in a small crowd, so the more people the merrier.”

Although he said he always knew he wanted be a singer, Rivers remembers the exact moment he knew he wanted to become a country star. “I can remember a particular day, in the third grade. I was in [lunch] line. “I was singing Garth Brooks’ ‘Two of a Kind.’ I remember this in third grade, and I remember telling myself, ‘I want to be a country singer one day.’ I don’t know it’s just always stuck with me, it’s always been there. Something I want to do.”

Interestingly, while Young pursued his music career in Texas instead of his home state of Tennessee, Rivers was doing the opposite. Both places, however, have their drawbacks. “Through the years it’s not an easy thing to break into, especially because if you come to Nashville, everywhere you turn, you’ve got your waitresses and waiters, everyone can sing or play or do something in music,” Rivers said.

This year marked the fourth year for the competition, and the third year of tryouts for Rivers. “I ended up getting a job, kind of getting discouraged in the music. So I was actually building a house whenever these tryouts for this last “Nashville Star” came about. My grandpa said, ‘Casey, why don’t you try out for Nashville Star again?’” Like Young, it’s lucky he did.

For Nicole Jamrose, mother of two and third place winner, touring will be a revisit to college life. “Hanging around with all of the guys in the band and the other guys on the tour, Chris and Casey and Matt. Just hanging out and chatting and playing music and jamming and sharing ideas—it kind of reminds me almost of being in the dorms back in school.”

Jamrose attended Purdue University, but didn’t graduate, trading her books for a microphone and moving to California with one semester left. She traveled west to pursue a shared dream of “making it” with a band she lent vocals to, Davis Farm. “We had a few close brushes with success and then the band just crumbled, and it doesn’t exist anymore, Unfazed, Jamrose continued to sing for “everything really, weddings, parties, night clubs, daycares, anything and everything.”

On tour, although she will be singing for thousands of people, she’ll be missing her biggest fans of all, her children. “It’ll just be a lot of traveling. You know, the rest of them get to go on a bus tour and get to come back, and most of them are stationed here in Nashville, so then they can just go home and be at their home base. Then I’ve got to jump on a plane and go to Chicago, and then drive to Indiana, you know? Just to get my few days home with the family, to get back on a plane, to get back on a bus. I just think it’s going to be a lot of traveling, and a lot of jet lag.”

While Jamrose hopes to put out an album, she said no matter what the future holds, she’ll always be singing. “I was playing music when I was pregnant. I was playing music—with my second child, I played until like two weeks before I delivered, so I was on stage pregnant. Then I remember doing my first show a month after he was born. So I pretty much will always be playing, you can count on that.”

As for the last member of the tour, aviator sporting, tattooed Matt Mason can only be described as the young rebel, there to spice things up.

Before Nashville Star, this 20-year-old Indiana native could be seen playing at Tootsie’s on Broadway in Nashville. “I’ve never done good in school, so I didn’t really have a good career lined up and that’s what I’ve always said I wanted to do, since I started playing guitar. I figured, well I’ll move down to Nashville, and try it out, and if it doesn’t work out—it made me pursue it harder because I didn’t have a chance in college, so I had to work at it harder than maybe some people would have to. That was a lot behind it—was not really having a back up plan.”

Mason is more than ecstatic about the opportunities he has thanks to the show. “It’s opened up a lot of doors—before record labels or songwriters, people like that don’t want to give you the time of day. Now that you’ve got not really a name, but they’ve heard your name before, it’s a little bit easier to get in and do some songwriting and talk to labels and get in with people a little bit better.”

Unsurprisingly, his two favorite country stars are none other than outlaw Waylon Jennings and all-American badass Johnny Cash. Other than that, he doesn’t know where his talent comes from, “I started playing guitar when I was 11, and just kind of messed around with some songwriting and sang a little bit as I got older. As far as my family, nobody plays anything. My dad plays the radio sometimes, but not very good at that. I don’t know, where’d it all come from? God, I guess.”

Either way, Mason can’t wait for the tour. “Everybody that’s going is nice, I like Chris, and Casey, and Nicole a lot, like all the band. It should be fun. I’m sure there’ll be a few arguments along the way, being on a bus for—especially for the last run, we’re going up through California and it’s like a 32 hour drive to get over there. So there’s going to be probably a few problems happen up through there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Click here for a chance to win a personal phone call from Chris Young and other great Nashville Star prizes.

More information ABOUT the Nashville Star Tour can be found at www.2006NashvilleStarTour.com.

NASHVILLE STAR TOUR UPCOMING DATES

08/25/06 Greensboro, NC War Memorial Auditorium
08/26/06 Valdosta, GA Wild Adventures
08/28/06 Mufreesboro, TN MTSU Murphy Center
09/02/06 Tuskahoma, OK Choctaw Grounds & Amphitheatre
09/07/06 Iowa City, IA Englert Civic Theater
09/08/06 Mansfield, IN Hilltop Farm
09/09/06 Owensboro, KY Executive Inn Rivermont
09/10/06 Taylorville, IL Nashville North
09/20/06 Scottsdale, AZ Venue of Scottsdale
09/21/06 Tucson, AZ Desert Diamond Casino
09/22/06 Ventura, CA Majestic Ventura Theater
09/23/06 Red Bluff, CA Tehama District Fair
09/24/06 San Diego, CA House of Blues-San Diego
09/27/06 Santa Rosa, CA Wells Fargo Center of the Arts
09/28/06 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
09/29/06 Los Angeles, CA House of Blues-Los Angeles
09/30/06 Las Vegas, NV Santa Fe Station Hotel & Casino
10/01/06 Flagstaff, AZ Orpheum Theater
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 59 - September 2018
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