By Jeff Gilliland
The headliner for Saturday night’s Festival of the Bells concert says he loves playing towns like Hillsboro because it takes him back to his roots.
“It’s always nice to play a show in a small town,” Chase Bryant told The Times-Gazette on Tuesday. “I grew up in one and lived most of my life in a small town in Texas. It’s always nice to be back down to my roots and play a show.”
Bryant will perform at 9 p.m. Saturday on the Fifth Third stage. Kicking off the evening will be a performance by RaeLynn at 7 p.m.
Bryant said he is aware of the number of acts that have played the Festival of the Bells over the years and gone on to become big name acts.
“It’s always an honor to play a festival that has broken the acts that I grew up listening to,” he said. “This is going to be a blast.”
Bryant, 22, was raised in Orange Grove, Texas, population 1,200. His grandfather played piano for Roy Orbison and Waylon Jennings. His uncles co-founded the group Ricochet.
Bryant’s Top 10 debut single “Take It On Back” has reached one million combined views on YouTube/ VEVO, spent 14 consecutive weeks on the CMT Hot 20 Countdown and is a GAC Top 20 Country Countdown video.
“Take It On Back” was a Top 20 Billboard Hot Country Song in the U.S. and a Top 20 Most Watched Video on VEVO TV Nashville. Internationally, the single is a Top 20 hit in Canada and soared to become the number one video on Australia’s CMC Countdown.
Bryant’s new single, the up-tempo rocker “Little Bit of You” is earning rave reviews, leading Rolling Stone to laud Bryant one of its “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know.”
Festival entertainment chairman Rick Williams said Bryant is interesting because “his road manager has been in Hillsboro before when he was Josh Gracin’s manager in ’05. I was with (Bryant) in October in Cincinnati and he’s really a fine individual.”
The festival’s entertainment kicks off Thursday at 7 or 7:30 p.m. shortly after the annual festival parade. Local church Good News Gathering will provide the opening act for Sidewalk Prophets.
On Friday, After Midnight will play for two hours beginning at 6:30 p.m. Around 9 p.m., John King will take the stage. He currently enjoys a top 15 country hit, “Tonight, Tonight.”
Williams said King is “just coming out and he’s pretty good. We’re pretty happy to have him.”
With RaeLynn and Bryant capping things off Saturday, Williams said, “We’re happy with who we’ve got. Real happy. Saturday night, I think, is going to be unbelievable.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.
Photo: Chase Bryant