By Tricia Despres | For the Sun-Times
The story is often the same: The girl from Tennessee who found a guitar sitting underneath the family Christmas tree. The boy who would sing old Conway Twitty songs from the back seat of his grandpa’s truck. The kid who threw everything in the trunk and headed to Nashville without a dime in his pocket. It’s a tale told my many country music stars about their journey from relative obscurity to fame.
But for rising country hotshot Chris Lane, it’s quite a different story, which makes it even cooler.
With and special guests Chris Lane and Tyler Rich
When: 7:30 p.m., January 7-8
Where: Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed
“I played football and baseball alongside my identical twin brother in high school,” begins Lane. “We both moved on to play college baseball, but I had a lot of surgeries that really hurt my chances. So I learned how to play the guitar and went into landscaping and started a cover band in my hometown of Kernersville, North Carolina, and honestly, I really didn’t know what was going to happen.”
What eventually did happen sure has the beginnings of one of those country music fairy tales. For Lane, his cover band turned into The Chris Lane Band, and the covers he would sing turned into original music. Before Lane knew it, he was moving to Music City in the late summer of 2013 in pursuit of his own musical career. “There has been a lot of hard work and travelling,” says Lane, who looks to Keith Urban as a major musical influence. “I certainly paid my [dues].”
Lane heads into 2016 with a song on the radio and his name on the marquee alongside fellow country music artist Dustin Lynch. “Dustin has taught me much about stage presence and how to entertain a crowd,” says Lane, who serves as a special guest on Lynch’s “Hell of a Night” tour that makes a stop at Chicago’s Joe’s Bar next week. “I mean, I have learned a lot myself along the way, but there is always more that I can learn and do in my own shows someday.”
While Lane knows that his journey into big-time country music stardom won’t be easy, he has discovered a bit of a silver bullet. “I was backstage and sort of playing around with a song that we do, and I did this high falsetto run that got my manager’s attention,” Lane recalls. “He asked me why I had never done it in the vocal booth and I told him that I had no songs to do it with, and then ‘Fix’ came along.”
Written by Sarah Buxton, Jesse Frasure and Abe Stoklasa, “Fix” was the most-added song on country radio during the first week of December, breaking the record for the most single week adds from a debut male artist in history. The song off his debut EP by the same name, tells the story of how one person can give you everything you need. It also received some much-appreciated love from fellow country artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell and Brett Eldredge. “That’s the cool thing about country music,” Lane says. “Everyone is so supportive of one another.”
“I was a little intimidated going in to record it, because it’s one thing to mess around with falsetto but it’s another to go in there and nail it,” Lane says of recording “Fix.”
And while Lane doesn’t pretend to know how his story will end, he’s simply thankful for now. “I get to play music for a living,” he says. “I used to do landscaping, and this is a lot more fun.”
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.