Nov 16, 201201:00 PMThe Telegraph

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Chris Young’s Top Five Western Honky-Tonks

Nov 16, 2012 - 01:00 PM
Chris Young’s Top Five Western Honky-Tonks

Chris Young and friends, backstage last night at the Ryman.

You may recall that we sat down with country singer Chris Young earlier this year when he was on the road opening for Miranda Lambert. Young’s star has continued to rise since, thanks to the success of his last several singles (“You” and “Neon” among them) and the timeless appeal of his smooth-like-buttah baritone.

Now the 27-year-old is trying on a headliner hat — he launched a new tour last night with a sold-out gig at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium and will be making his way around the country well into next year.

“This is the first hard-ticket headlining tour with my name out there, kind of assuming all the risk,” Young told us on the phone last week. “That’s a bucket list item for any artist, and it’s a big deal for me to be able to do it.”

But no matter how the rest of the tour goes, Young’s a guy who can thrive in all types of venues. The Tennessean paid his dues early on playing small bars and fronting a Texas honky-tonk house band before earning his first dose of national attention on the reality show Nashville Star (which he won). His third album, Neon, is keeping him on the charts, and he's already started work on the next.

We asked Young during our phone chat to look back on his five favorite places to play in his early days, and he threw out a list of honky-tonks that any country traditionalist could appreciate. Read on.


Cowboys Dancehall (Arlington, Texas)

“That place, to me, was part of who I am as an artist. Part of where I cut my teeth, to an extent. Right before I got my deal, I moved from Nashville to Arlington for about a year. I was 20-year-old guy fronting a 7-piece house band. It was really cool, a big experience for me. It used to be a Kmart. It’s a club that holds 3,200 people. I remember going in there and auditioning and liking the vibe in the room.”


Billy Bob’s Texas (Fort Worth, Texas)

“Not to take anything away from where I cut my teeth, but this is more of an institution ... the kind of place where everybody’s played, not just in the Texas music scene but in the music scene, period. The biggest moment for me was this past New Year’s. We played there and sold it out, which was a huge deal for me.”


Cain’s Ballroom (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

“It has a lot of history to it, with the people who’ve played there. It’s cool the way it’s built – I’ve never been on a stage where my ears ring so much. It’s got this sloped, wooden ceiling that domes over the top of the band. It is so loud on that stage. It’s not a huge room, but it feels like it is. I wore my Cain’s Ballroom t-shirt for so long after the first show there, until it wore out.”


Moe’s Place (Katy, Texas)

“It’s right outside Houston. The guys who own that place make steaks there. Everybody in the band had steaks the first time we played, and that’s what we had every time we went there after that. If you play there enough, they end up putting your name up on the glass on the outside.”


Hog Creek Icehouse (Speegleville, Texas)

“It’s just a big, big venue, and the reason it stuck out to me is that it was the first show where I took off the cowboy hat. I knew a crowd in Texas would tell me if they didn’t like that decision. But that's where it happened. Not that it was a huge musical step or anything. But we had a blast that night.”

Find out more about Chris Young and his “Liquid Neon” tour here.

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