Wednesday, June 1, 2016

98.5 KVOO's 5 Man Jam

If there's one station that knows how to put together a phenomenal group of talented artists for an acoustic show, it would be one of the oldest country stations in Tulsa OK, 98.5 KVOO. The station's annual 5 Man Jam took place on May 24th and it was packed full of some incredible talent. Chris Janson, Drake White, Brandy Clark, Jordan Rager, and Drew Baldridge were all on the stage together at the River Spirit Casino with Janson acting as the host for the evening. Something each artist on the stage had in common that night is they are not only incredibly talented artists, but songwriters as well. Though the artists played in a round robin fashion, it was the host Chris Janson who kicked things off.

Janson started out the night with "Truck Yeah" a song he helped pen that Tim McGraw released. When he told us about the story behind "Holdin' Her," his current single, and sang it for us, it was clear he absolutely adores his wife and family. If you think genuinely kindhearted people no longer exist, I suggest you meet Chris Janson to be pleasantly proven wrong. Janson sang a few versus of a couple of songs before his hit "Buy Me A Boat" including a bit of LoCash's song "I Love This Life." A song that Janson, himself, helped pen. A truly awesome part of the night came when he discovered two young boys in the audience had made signs for him. Janson invited the little boys on stage. It was easy to tell this family man knows how special little creations like those are.

The country Johnny Depp was up next. Those were Janson's words not mine for the very talented Drake White. Their back and forth banter through out the show never failed. The first song White sang was "It Feels Good," the title track from his EP released last year. His current single "Livin' The Dream" certainly got the entire crowd singing along. Because honestly we all need to remember the first step in loving our life is loving what we already have. The next time White took his turn on the mic he pointed to this little boy who was enjoying the concert from his dad's shoulders and told us it was times like that we need to remember, the simpler ones. He than sang us "Back To Free." Another great song that can be found on his It Feels Good EP.

Four time GRAMMY Award nominee and the only female performer, Brandy Clark, was up next. Like some of the others on the stage, Clark is relatively new to the artist side of country music, but she is a well established songwriter. Her first song of the night was her, tell it how it is, single, "Girl Next Door." The sassy lyrics continued when she sang us a song from her pending album Big Day in a Small Town (out 6/10) titled "Daughter." After playing two songs she helped write, Clark played a song that she says always inspires her by Buck Owen called "Together Again." Knowing that Clark contributed to the writing of every song on her upcoming album has me very excited to hear Big Day in a Small Town on June 10th. "Southern Boy" singer Jordan Rager took his turn on the mic next.

The homemade Jordan Rager t-shirt was the first clue he had a few fans in the crowd and the volume increase when he started singing was definitely the second. All things considered both were and are completely deserved. Because I don't think we've even scratched the surface of what this talented newcomer will bring to country music, both as a singer and as a songwriter. Something that was totally evident when he mixed his first song "Whatever" with a bit of Eminem's "Lose Yourself." His current single, "Southern Boy," a song he recorded with Jason Aldean, totally inspired an impressive sing-a-long with the crowd. Before he sang his final song "All Outta Beer," he told us it was his first official cut as a songwriter. Let me just say I'm intrigued to hear Jason Aldean's version of "All Outta Beer" and more from Rager the songwriter. Because I loved the song.

The ever energetic Illinois native Drew Baldridge played "Train" for his first song. I'll attach the just released official video below. I waited till Baldridge wasn't singing to take his photo. Because when he is performing he is up and always moving. To love what you do and always put a 100% forward is never a bad thing though. Blurry concert photos are a sure sign you had a great time. Everyone else was definitely up and dancing themselves when Baldridge played his first single "Dance With Ya."  His final song was the title track of his debut album (out 6\10) "Dirt On Us." Given the caliber of the track, this is one album I am extremely excited for.

After singing Happy Birthday to one very happy 8 year old in the front row, Janson ended the evening in an impressive and out right hilarious ad-libbed montage of Oklahoma songs ranging from Merle Haggard's "Okie From Muskogee" to Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places." I say ad-libbed because Janson had actually started making up his own lyrics for the songs. Everyone helped finish it out with Hank Williams, Jr.'s "Family Tradition." Then with an 'I'm going to sign autographs' declaration these stunningly talented artists shocked, surprised, and simply delighted the crowd when every one of them came to the floor to sign autographs and take photos with fans. I actually heard Jordan Rager say to the crowd "Please don't push, I'm staying right here til I get to meet every single one of you." 

The KVOO crew was right when they said these were the best kinds of concerts because you get "up close and personal" with the artists. I walked away not only loving each of them artistically, but also feeling like I knew them.  It will definitely be interesting to see if next years 5 Man Jam can touch the success of this years.