Country-star and Grand Ole Opry member, Chris Janson, and the Real Friends Tour, named after his new album that dropped last Friday, stopped on Long Island Thursday night at the Paramount Theater in Huntington. He brought along special guest, Ross Ellis.
Ellis opened his 30-minute acoustic set with two original songs in “Ghosts” and “Barefoot Dancer”. The singer-songwriter also debuted some unreleased music he’s been working on including “Without You” and “2000 and You”. He mentioned that he had just learned the chords 25 minutes ago backstage. Ellis’ vocal chords are similar to those of country super-star, Brett Young as both do a great job of expanding their range to hit the high notes. This was made apparent when Ellis beautifully covered King of Leon’s “Use Somebody”. He then performed a cover of a song he wrote for Tim McGraw titled, “Neon Church”. He closed his set with his most recent release “Buy and Buy”.
A half-hour later, headliner Chris Janson took the stage, starting his set with three songs from his second album, Everybody with “Redneck Life”, the title track and its lead single, “Fix a Drink”. He quickly got the crowd cheering when he broke out his harmonica for “Redneck Life”. “It’s hard to get me away from home during hunting season but man, when it’s New York, I’m coming; that’s it.”
It was a big week for Janson as his new album came out last week and its lead single “Good Vibes” hit number one on country radio, making it the singer-songwriter’s third number one hit. He was in Manhattan all week promoting it, he even made an appearance on the Today Show. He said performing on Long Island was the most relaxed he’s been all week.
Janson was spreading good moods all night long, constantly reminding the crowd that there’s a lot to be thankful for and there’s a lot of reasons to get up every morning. “The Power of Positive Drinking”, “Who’s Your Farmer?” and his newest number one were next in the set. He blended “Good Vibes” with Bob Marley’s “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright”. “I don’t take a second of it for granted,” he said. “Good Vibes” is the song and it has changed my life.”
After performing a new song off Real Friends, “Waitin’ On 5” and a cover of Vern Gosdin’s “Set ‘em up Joe”, he brought out his Grand Ole Opry mic stand and told us the story of his upbringing, growing up in a trailer park in Missouri. The next song, from his debut album, Buy Me a Boat, “White Trash” was inspired by his life before moving to Nashville. Janson, who was a big talker, told another story about how he met his wife. He was at a bar with his friends in Nashville when he first laid eyes on this girl. He said to them: “I’m going to marry that girl over there, done and done; that’s it” to which they responded: “yeah, right; she’s hot.” Well, it happened, they have been married for ten years and they have four kids, two of which they had together. Janson doesn’t like the term “step kids” however; he prefers the term “bonus kids”. “Children are the light of the world and it’s a blessing to have them,” he praises. “They’re happy, they’re healthy and they got ten fingers and ten toes apiece and I’m just thankful for that.” That story set up his next song, “Holdin’ Her”.
As much as the crowd loved his stories and slow songs, he brought the energy back with a song he co-wrote with LOCASH called “I Love This Life”, which was also the motto he was promoting all night. He then stopped singing and began to spread his arms open and closed, then up and down. The audience was very confused so Janson addressed the issue. “I dance like this when I’m in a good mood. Everyone do it with me.” Sure enough, the whole crowd followed suit and joined him in this weird, interpretive dance he was displaying.
Janson headed to the piano to perform a few covers, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, Elton John’s “Rocketman”, Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly” and a Long Island favorite, Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. This song was fitting for the arena and Janson as he loves his showcase his harmonica skills. Already at the piano, he then played his ACM-winning song, “Drunk Girl”.
Janson placed this next song in the setlist because of a fan he met at his meet-and-greet before the show. The fan explained when he lost his job and was depressed, it was his music that got him through it. “If you’re in here and you feel like sometimes you’re a little out of place, I wrote this song for people like you and me.” Janson then performed a new song called “Everybody’s Going Through Something”. Janson played another song he wrote for an artist in Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah”. During the rock-infused country song, he took over the drum set and on the first strike, his stick broke in half. He managed to finish the solo, however.
To end the night, he played his next single that comes to country radio the week of Thanksgiving, “Done”. In this song, Janson realizes his purpose in life is to give his wife the best life possible. He sings “Just say the word, girl, paint me, you’re perfect. I won’t quit till the good lord says my work is done.” He followed that with his first number one hit in “Buy Me a Boat”.
If you have never seen Chris Janson before, move it to the top of your bucket list because he is so fun to watch perform. He has a variety of songs, some that hit you hard, some that make you want to party, even some that make you laugh. He is an extremely talented musician on the guitar, the drums and of course, the harmonica. But the best part about his act to us, was seeing the pure the joy on his face during each and every song. He loves what he does and is incredibly grateful for everything he has in life. He thanked us a lot last night, but we’re the ones who owe him thanks.
Janson’s tour continues up until December 7th. He mentioned at the show that he will be back in New York performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this year. Janson is also a part of the stacked lineup at 94.7’s Stars and Strings at the Barclays Center on December 4th.