So it’s approaching midnight and I just got back from another fantastic KRTY show at the Rodeo Club in San Jose, California. Tonight, the capacity crowd was treated to an evening of country music with two great, up-and-coming artists: Mo Pitney and Jana Kramer.
Around 8:30, Pitney took the stage with his band in tow. I’ve been looking forward to seeing Pitney play for quite some time now, so I’m glad that my latest travel plans worked out this time around.
As background, Pitney was born in Cherry Valley, Illinois. He began playing drums at age six, guitar at age twelve, and later played in a bluegrass band with his brother and a friend. Eventually, Pitney moved to Nashville where he signed to Curb Records.
Last December, Pitney released the single “Country”, which he co-wrote with Bill Anderson and Bobby Tomberlin. I remember the first time I heard it. It was one of those songs that just jumps out and makes you say “wow. This is big. This is a game-changer.” And it certainly was. The song went back to traditional country roots and put Pitney on the map. I heard country music fans talking about it day in and day out. His latest single, “Boy & a Girl Thing”, was released to country radio this summer and it’s certainly another winner.
During his set, Pitney ran though the aforementioned songs as well as a few personal favorites including “Clean Up on Aisle Five” and “I Met Merle Haggard Today”, a song he wrote after what can only be described as the “religious experience” of meeting the man himself. Nothing like turning a chance meeting with a living legend into a great song. That’s what country music is all about, right? On top of that, the audience was also treated to a fun cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.” How can you not have fun with that one?
I have to say, Pitney may very well be the future of country music. I was quite impressed with the set. Pitney is certainly a rising star and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store from him. It’s always nice to see a traditional country musician step to the forefront, especially in a day and age where it doesn’t always get the airplay it deserves. Make sure you check out his website and give him a follow on Twitter at @MoPitney and on Facebook.
After a brief break, it was time for the main event of the evening: Jana Kramer!
You may know Kramer from her roles of Noelle Davenport on Friday Night Lights and Alex Dupre on One Tree Hill. But she began her country music career back in 2012 with the release of her debut single “Why Ya Wanna” which appeared on her self-titled debut album for Elektra Records…and she hasn’t looked back!
One thing I noticed right away about Kramer is her smile. You can tell that she truly loves what she is doing as a musician, playing for her fans. Not once during her set did I see that smile come off her face. OK, maybe for a second during the encore when she was singing “I Hope it Rains” right to me. But, come on, how can you keep a smile to that song, right?
Her entire set was fantastic. A great mix of songs from her first record, and her latest album “thirty one”. Songs like “Why You Wanna”, “Whiskey”, “I Got the Boy”, “Don’t Touch My Radio”, and “Boomerang” filled the high energy set list. We were also treated to a fun track from her new album, “Said No One Ever”. The sing-a-long aspect of this song was great and the audience was really into it. Oh, did I mention that we also got a killer cover of Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic”? Dare I say…awesome?
If you’ve been living under a rock, and haven’t seen Kramer live, make sure that you clear your calendar the next time she’s in town. What a talent. Her vocals. Her stage presence. The way she interacts with her fans. Oh yeah, did I mention that she performed while more than 7 months pregnant? Did I leave that out? Seriously. I can’t remember the last time I was this impressed by a solo artist. Kramer is definitely going places and I can’t wait until the next time she comes to town!
As I sit here reminiscing on another great night of country music, I have to give thanks, and the highest praise to KRTY. As always, thank you to Nate Deaton, Julie Stevens, Tina Ferguson, Gary Scott Thomas, Randy Jones, Indiana Al, Jamie Jackson, Danika Gurley, Jenna Johnson etc…for once again bringing the best in up-and-coming talent to the South Bay. I’d love to see any other so called “local country station” in the Bay Area try to do that!
Did you go to the show? Have you seen Mo Pitney and/or Jana Kramer live? Let me know your thoughts below.