By Rich Place
One of the hottest tickets in town featuring an up-and-coming country music star didn’t disappoint Tuesday, as Kane Brown performed to a sellout crowd at the Cattaraugus County Fair.
While casual country music fans may recognize his two most well-known hits, “What Ifs” and “Heaven,” plenty of those in attendance knew his deeper tracks and sang along in a high octane show that never lost its momentum.
“There’s no better place to be on a Tuesday than Little Valley, baby,” he said to a crowd after his first few songs, including “Used to Love You Sober,” one of his first hits before he even signed a record deal.
Brown has risen through the early ranks of country music stardom, courtesy of an avid Facebook following, by performing covers by Chris Young and George Strait before writing his own material. For an artist with a relatively short career and little time on stage, Brown seemed like a natural — interacting often with the crowd by grabbing fans’ hands and telling stories about his life in rural Georgia.
“The Cold Spot” featured one such story, a tribute to the name of his great-grandfather’s business that closed after big-box stores took over in the area. Upon his request, cell phone flashlights lit up the area in a tribute to his great-grandfather while he performed it.
He also performed a handful of tracks off his upcoming album, including “Home Sick” and “Short Skirt Weather,” the latter of which he referred to as a part-two to Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It,” which was a childhood favorite.
Also part of the concert was a myriad of non-country songs — including “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy and “Ms. Jackson” by OutKast — that for a few moments seemed to turn the concert into a dance club.
“His style is definitely not completely country,” said Diane Spring, of Allegany, before the show. “He looks a little different. He is definitely his own. He broke out of the mold of country, which is nice. His voice is amazing.”
She had front row seats — which turned into standing room only positions right in front of the stage — along with her sister, Donna Stady, and five other family members and close friends.
Stady, who has attended the last several concerts at the fair, said she was first made aware of Brown by her daughter, Amanda, who has been a fan since Brown was covering songs on Facebook.
“She listens and I just listen right along,” she said, noting she landed the front row seats by waiting in line at the fair’s office when tickets first went on sale.
Opening for Brown was Smithfield, a duo from Texas comprised of Trey Smith and Jennifer Fielder.
“We got to say to say, growing up in Texas, Trey and I never knew there were so many country fans in New York,” Fielder said. “There are, aren’t there? You guys are proving us wrong tonight.”
Along with a handful of originals — including “Nothing But the Night,” a song that has gotten airplay on SiriusXM’s country station — the band performed a collection of covers.
Fielder explained she comes from a country music background and Smith has roots more in rock ‘n’ roll, and their covers verified it by alternating between ’90s hits by Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Goo Goo Dolls and Faith Hill.
The country music entertainment continued Wednesday when the Charlie Daniels Band visited the fair grandstand stage for the first time since 2007.