Nash Bash: Lee Brice, Darius Rucker, Sara Evans & the Henningsens Close the Country-Fried Party
At the very start of New York City's final Nash Bash concert (Feb. 20), celebrating the city's first country radio station in 17 years, Nash FM 94.7, host Kix Brooks promised that it was "going to be an awesome night." His prediction was an understatement. The night -- filled with classic and new songs, Lee Brice doing a Jägerbomb shot on stage, and a surprise appearance from Darius Rucker -- was unforgettable for the country-loving, "USA"-chanting crowd.
Kix, who served as both emcee and performer for all three Nash Bash nights, decided to sing a special song for the closing event, Brooks & Dunn's "Only in America." He stopped mid-song to thank all the soldiers who serve our country. "We still got a lot of guys in Afghanistan right now," he said. "I want to thank them."
Next up was family band the Henningsens, which consists of dad Brian, son Aaaron and daughter Clara. As Kix acknowledged, they're "a new act you might not know that well, but a great act in their own right." They're also the writers behind the Band Perry's hits, "You Lie" and "All Your Life."
Clara, announcing it was their very first time in the big city, started off their set with "The Color Red" before talking about their background. "We are a farm family from Illinois. The farm has been in our family for 142 years."
Clara and Aaron are two of the family's 10 kids, and Aaron joked that he was the "most good looking" while Clara quickly added that that was debatable, drawing laughs from the crowd.
The trio performed "All Your Life" and took a little break to talk about how different their farm lifestyle is compared to the busy Big Apple.
"Yesterday was our first day in the cry, and we rode in the train ... under the ground," Clara said. "We don't have those in Illinois!"
They might've been new to the city, but they seemed like seasoned performers on stage. Clara thanked Nash 94.7 FM for having them before the group harmonized on their song, "America the Beautiful." "Thank you for bringing country music back to the greatest city in the world!" she cheered.
When Kix took the stage again, the crowd was expecting him to announce Lee Brice or Sara Evans, but were met with surprise when he brought out Darius Rucker.
"I love this next guy," Kix said upon introducing his friend. "When he came into country music, everyone raised their eyebrow. But he's as country as they come."
Darius was quickly met with tons of cheers and claps, and launched into hits including "Alright," "True Believers" and his latest single, a cover of Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel." He even threw in an old Hootie & the Blowfish hit, "Only Wanna Be With You."
Lee Brice took the stage next, after Kix's introduction describing him as a "bada-- songwriter." The South Carolina native was met with cheers as he started with "A Woman Like You" and then talked about the inspiration behind his next song.
"Any of y'all out there have a significant other who thinks you might be a little hard to love?" he asked. "Maybe you think they're hard to love, I don't know. Maybe we're all hard to love. Sometimes love is hard ... but boy, it's good."
He went into "Hard to Love" and told the crowd in the middle of the song, "Every time I come to New York, your love is so damn good."
Love ... and beverages! Kix met Lee with a drink in the middle of his set. "I hope that's Coke," laughed the chart-topper. Nope, it was a Jägerbomb. Raising his drink and having the crowd do the same, Lee announced "Holler then swallow-er" before downing the drink in seconds. He then performed "Crazy Girl," which he wrote 10 years ago and the Eli Young Band recorded.
"It's special to me," he explained. "It's about my crazy ex-girlfriend, and I can sing it if I want to."
Lee and his adoring audience echoed Kix's patriotic sentiments with the next song on his set list. After expressing immense gratitude for his job, he set up the tune by saying it was one that changed his life. "I didn't write this song but when I heard it, I knew I wanted to sing it for everyone out there in our military. They sacrifice so much every day. So much that they do that we don't even know about ... This song is really for you guys, people who support them and love them."
That song, "I Drive Your Truck," led to tons of "USA, USA" chants at the end.
"Damn right, USA," Lee responded. "USA also knows how to party though!"
The appropriately-titled "Parking Lot Party" came next, followed by his last song of the night, "Love Like Crazy."
Calling the night's final performer "really special," Kix then introduced Sara Evans.
Evans started with "Real Fine Place To Start" and shared her excitement for the night. "A beautiful crowd we have here," she said. "I waited so long for this and I'm so happy Nash (FM) is here!"
After singing "Born to Fly," the Missouri native admitted to feeling a little under the weather.
"I have to tell you something," she said. "No, I'm not pregnant! I just ate a big dinner. This is the first time I've been out of the bed since last Tuesday. I had the flu. I had the worst flu that I ever had in my entire life. But I'm doing great. I've got drugs. I mean legal prescribed drugs. I love NYC. I love coming up here. I'm so worried about impressing you guys. But you can't tell [I'm sick], can you?"
The crowd didn't seem to notice, cheering and clapping for Sara as she got into "Perfect" and covered Rod Stewart's "My Heart Can't Tell You No."
"It's a very sad song," she explained. "That's what country music is about. Sad, drinking songs. It's about being in love with someone but they're in love with someone else."
Sara also talked about working on her upcoming album, saying she has already recorded four new songs. She then launched into the soaring "A Little Bit Stronger," which was co-written by friend Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.
"I knew it had to be my song," she said. "It's about going through a hard time in your life and by the grace of God, coming out of it stronger."
Sara performed a cover of Edwin McCain's "I Could Not Ask For More," which she dedicated to her children, joking that sometimes being a mom "sucks" but it's "the biggest thing in my life."
Her last song was "Suds in the Bucket," and the crowd was pleased with the choice.
"I have just enough vocal chords to do one more song," she said. "I have four younger sisters and they all were hussies. A lot of rednecks in Missouri where I'm from. This is a song about a girl who, like one my hussie sisters, runs off with her redneck boyfriend."
After Sara's set, Kix said the last goodbye to the crowd, wrapping up a total of three country-fun nights at Manhattan's Roseland Ballroom.
"You guys are the reason we got a radio station now in New York City," he told the fans. "We have to do this again sometime, don't you think?"
The crowd's deafening response was the answer Kix was looking for.