Chris Young, set to play Petersen Events Center, continues his climb to the top
Chris Young is just now beginning his second decade in country music, and in that time he has been one of the steadiest climbers on the scene. Each of his five previous studio albums kicked out multiple top 5 singles and Young has gradually gone from small venues to opening slots for some of country's biggest stars, most recently Jason Aldean last summer.
Now comes 2018, and Young, with his new album, "Losing Sleep," gaining momentum, is beginning the year with a headlining tour that takes him to arenas and amphitheaters, including Petersen Events Center in Oakland on Feb. 8. To say he's excited about this latest step up with his career would be an understatement.
" "You're obviously excited any time you can make new music and make it out there and play shows," Young says. "But to be able to ... play a bunch of arenas that I've opened for (other acts) a lot of times in my career ..., it's going to be really, really special."
Young is resisting the urge to weight his set toward songs from "Losing Sleep."
"I'm definitely not playing too many new songs," Young says. "You don't want to inundate people with a whole bunch of new music, but there's going to be some cool stuff that people have never seen from me before."
One new song he'll be playing is the title track from "Losing Sleep," which has gone top 10 on Billboard magazine's country airplay and hot country songs charts. While not the blockbuster single Young might have wanted, "Losing Sleep" adds another accomplishment to a career that has had its share of highlights.
Signed to RCA after winning the 2006 season of "Nashville Star," Young's 2006 self-titled debut album stiffed. But things changed with his second album, 2009's "The Man I Want To Be," which gave Young three No. 1 country hits. His next three albums added six more chart toppers to the list.
In "Losing Sleep," Young made an album that's in character with his earlier releases, with a nice blend of traditional country and pop influences and a good balance between uptempo tunes (the song "Losing Sleep"), full-bodied mid-tempo songs ("Hangin' On" and "Radio and the Rain") and ballads ("Blacked Out" and "Where I Go When I Drink").
Along with finishing and releasing "Losing Sleep," another highlight of 2017 for Young was getting inducted into the Grand Ole Opry this past August.
"It's a huge thing and definitely one of those things you look at and I'm like 'Holy crap, this is a bucket list thing for me,' " Young says. "So it's an incredible thing. I'm so, so honored that it was Vince Gill that asked me to join and Brad Paisley who did the induction. I'm just incredibly lucky."
If the Opry performance was a high point of 2017 for Young, he also shared in the worst moment of the year in country music when he went to see Aldean and others at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas. That night, during Aldean's headlining set, a gunman opened fire on the crowd, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500 — the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
"Obviously, it was a very scary night in my life, the scariest night of my life, not anything you should ever have to experience at a concert," Young says.
The experience has made Young more attuned than ever with concert safety.
"I had a show, I think, four days later in California," Young says. "And I debated do we play? Do we not play? What's the right thing to do? I've said it a lot in interviews since then, but music is a thing that ... can heal. So I got back up on stage and played and have continued to play."
Alan Sculley is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.