As an 11-year-old living in Charlotte, N.C., Chase Rice‘s first concert experience was a Garth Brooks show. So it was a first circle moment when the country singer/former Survivor contestant opened up for Brooks at Ford Field in Detroit on Saturday (Feb. 22). The occasion also marked Rice’s first full-scale North American tour since the release of his surprise album, The Album, Part 1, on Jan. 24.
“It’s hard to comprehend, to be honest,” Rice told Billboard on his tour bus before the show. “I’m just trying to take it all in and enjoy the night.” Rice, as a holiday present, flew in several of his family members for the concert, including a niece and two nephews — the youngest of which was attending his first concert and brandished a sign that read “First Show: Garth and Uncle Chase.”
Rice and his band delivered an exuberant half-hour set that opened with “Lions” — appropriate to the venue, which is the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions — as well as his latest single “Lonely If You Are” and a solo acoustic version of “Jack Daniels and Jesus.”
“I figured it would be fun to pull an Ed Sheeran on ’em,” Rice said beforehand.
The set also included his version of Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” which Rice co-wrote.
One of the day’s nicest moments, however, was some brief one-on-one time with Brooks. “He’s been amazing, man,” Rice said. “We had a five, 10-minute talk on stage where it was just him and me, finally, and nobody around. And we talked about a lot of real-life stuff. It had nothing to do with music.”
Music, however, will be Rice’s focus moving forward into 2020. He has plenty of touring lined up, including his own dates and opening for Rascal Flatts and others.
Meanwhile, he’s putting together two more parts of The Album. Part 2 will be out “pretty soon,” though he’s still deciding which songs to include from a list he flashes on his mobile phone.
“I have four songs that I’m contemplating putting on there,” Rice said, including one called “The Nights,” which he says is “probably one of the best songs I’ve ever written.” For the release, however, Rice doesn’t “know if it’s gonna be three songs, I don’t know if it’s gonna be seven again. Our plan is still to put that out in the next couple of months, and then The Album, Part 3, I think in the fall and then we package it all together and it’s just The Album.”
Rice is also planning to make more videos for other songs from The Album, Part 1, as well as some acoustic performance videos and acoustic recordings of the songs that will be released separately.
Despite the batch of material he already has — including one song co-written with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard — Rice hopes to do some additional songwriting, and also look at songs submitted by other writers.
“It’s smaller, and you can put out music more often,” Rice says of the project. “The fans already know The Album, Part 1, then they get a group of three or four songs and they’re, ‘OK, this is another four I can learn and now I can focus on them,’ and then the same thing for Part 3. It allows the songs to get the respect they deserve, as opposed to people listening through 19 and picking three of them (to remember)… ’cause you want people to hear your music.”