March 11, 2015 Thomas Rhett heats up New York with Southern Charm 2-28-15
The career path of singer/songwriter Thomas Rhett Akins, Jr., who goes by just Thomas Rhett, was not always a clear one. Being the son of acclaimed Country singer/songwriter Thomas Rhett Akins, Sr. (known commonly as Rhett Akins), Rhett first tried to find a different path, studying things like Kinesiology, Business, and Anatomy, but like his father, Rhett found his true passion in entertainment. This passion is evident in the way that Rhett performs, with unceasing enthusiasm and an unyielding air of respect and admiration for his audience. As a relative newcomer to the Country scene, Rhett has made history as the second male solo Country artist in twenty-one years to have three number one Billboard Country Airplay singles off his 2013 debut album It Goes Like This. Keeping busy performing live and building a strong fanbase, Rhett is back on the road in 2015 to rock audiences. A few days after performing in New York City with Florida Georgia Line, on Saturday February 28th, Rhett along with fellow Georgia native, Alex Hall, found themselves greeted by a full house on a frigid Winter night at The Paramount in Huntington on Long Island to share their much welcomed Southern warmth.
Opening act, Alex Hall, began pursuing his dream of being a Country singer/songwriter at a young age. By seventeen years old, Hall had performed over one hundred live shows, of which included opening for artists such as Frankie Ballard and Gavin DeGraw. In between performing, Hall produced an independent self-titled album and then an unsigned, studio-recorded album titled The Way I Was Raised. Hall’s style of music is not easily defined, but he self-describes it as “Country with a rockin’ edge.” Hall cites being highly influenced by the music of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, but most considerably, John Mayer whom he has said is his favorite artist that has been out in the last thirty years.
When Hall took the stage the audience welcomed his Rock Star-like energy and good ole Country boy charm that poured through his performance of an original number, “Light Up the Night.” Right from the start, Hall expressed his gratitude in being able to play for the crowd and the opportunity of touring with Rhett. He interacted with the audience, asking, “Would y’all like to hear some Prince” before breaking into his rendition of “Purple Rain.” Hall continued with a medley of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley hits while also taking the time to throw free t-shirts out to the lively crowd. He continued on, playing a couple of songs from his forthcoming EP, including his personal favorite track, “Lover’s Lullaby,” which also ended up being a crowd favorite. Hall closed out his set with a cover of John Mayer’s, “Gravity,” that really exhibited the range of his impressive vocals, proving he definitely has the makings of a star on the rise. It is just a matter of time before this rising star garnishes his deserved attention.
After a fine opening act that gave fans insight into the future, everyone settled in for an exciting performance by Rhett. Only twenty-five years of age himself, Rhett took the stage to immediately get the crowd moving with “South Side,” a song whose lyrics encourage the act of shaking one’s “south side,” as he himself was so adamantly doing. The charismatic singer then gave the New York crowd props for braving the cold weather to making it out to the show, but at this point everyone was warm and cozy thanks to Rhett himself. The set went on with his debut and first number one single, “Something To Do With My Hands,” before the playful vibe continued with “Whatcha Got In That Cup.” Thereafter, Rhett affectionately announced “Thanks to you, this is number one, you did this,” before going into the disco-esque tones of most current single “Make Me Wanna,” to which the crowd erupted. Complemented by a stage setup that included multiple TV monitors that would show images that either depicted song lyrics or would be shadowing images of Rhett; these displays, along with the lighting, made for a very visually stimulating sight. Rhett himself continued to engage the crowd prompting the audience when to sing along to a medley of covers that included Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” David Lee Murphy’s “Dust On The Bottle,” and Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.” Even during the performance of slower songs like, “Beer with Jesus” and “It Goes Like This,” Rhett never lost his grip over the crowd, as he continued to receive the loudest responses of the night. Rhett closed out his set with one last high-energy packed number, with a cover of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” where he donned a fedora versus his usual backwards baseball cap and proved he could hold up in a dance off with Bruno Mars any day. Not to leave without paying one last homage to Country Rock, Rhett encored with a cover of Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places.”
Rhett’s overall performance can be summed up as boundless energy. From start to finish, it seemed Rhett never stopped to take a breath. Throughout the entirety of his set, Rhett took the time to take selfies with fans’ phones, give high–fives, sign autographs, and he even pulled one surprised fan onto stage, where he handed his guitar over to have the fan play as well as sing along with him. The atmosphere in The Paramount was that of a karaoke/jam session with a good friend, rather than simply watching an entertainer perform. It is clear to see how Rhett has earned his position as a final nominee for an Academy of Country Music (ACM) “New Artist of the Year” award. The award will be announced at the ACM’s on April 19th, and there is high probably of him winning the honor. Rhett is currently continuing his US tour with dates ranging through October of this year. With that said, it is highly recommended to check him out.