Country radio station 93.3 Jake FM in Oklahoma City, OK has a strong reputation for putting together incredible concerts throughout the year and the best part about each show is they are free. One such event is the New Face Showcase where they assemble some of the current up-and-comers of country music in one setting for the fans to get an up close and personal concert with some of the new talent they are hearing on the radio. This year’s New Face Showcase held at Riverwind Casino included artists Ryan Kinder, High Valley, Lindsay Ell, William Michael Morgan and Chris Lane and every one of them showed up to impress.
Alabama native Ryan Kinder opened the show. Jake FM DJ Carly Rae introduced him as “the country John Mayer” for his soulful sounding voice and his incredible guitar playing. Kinder started out with “Earthquake” and “And Then Some,” two new songs which he has yet to record but maybe we will see them on his next project. Then he played songs from his current EP Deconstructed Studio Sessions including “Tonight,” “Are We Doing This,” “Something,” and his current single “Kiss Me When I’m Down,” where he had the whole audience singing along with him at the end to the “whoa whoa whoas.” Kinder is an in-the-moment performer who exudes passion and soul not only through his singing but in the way he connects with his guitar. I look forward to hearing more from Ryan Kinder and his unique country soul style in the future.
High Valley, a Canadian duo made up of brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel, were next to take the stage. They have a noticeable bluegrass sound that they have married with a more popular country sound to make them unlike any other duo on the radio today. They performed “She’s with Me” from their album County Line along with “Memory Making” and another brand new song. They mentioned their Mennonite upbringing and how their parents made sure they listened to gospel music growing up. Then they performed a fantastic rendition of the familiar church hymn “I’ll Fly Away” where they encouraged the crowd to stomp their feet, clap their hands and bob their heads along with the music. They ended the set with their hit single “Make You Mine” and the audience danced and sang along. “Make You Mine” is on the top of my list of favorite songs so far in 2016 and if High Valley keeps putting out more music like that I will be a fan for a long time.
Lindsay Ell, the only female to grace the stage that night, was up next, and this Canadian came to show the boys exactly how it’s done. She had no backup band. It was just her and her guitar, who she lovingly named Johnny, and to be honest, she didn’t need anyone else. She held the audience’s attention throughout her whole set with her charm, great voice and spectacular guitar skills. She opened with her single “By the Way” and sang a brand new song called “What Does You Good.” She covered some well-known songs including Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself,” “Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” She added some beat boxing into a looping machine to showcase her song “Criminal” mixed with Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” and John Mayer’s “Say What You Need to Say.” Lindsay Ell is extremely talented and I am just waiting on the rest of the country music world to see it so she can become the next big star.
If you are looking for a true country act, look no further than William Michael Morgan. This young newcomer from Mississippi is pure country from his cowboy hat all the way down to his starched jeans, boots and southern drawl. His smooth baritone voice is enough to make the ladies swoon. He started his set with Mark Chesnutt’s “It’s A Little Too Late” and then sang his own songs “Vinyl” and “Lonesomeville,” which he mentioned was his favorite along with the only song on his EP that he wrote. He said he couldn’t come to Oklahoma and not do an Oklahoma boy song so he covered Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places” and, of course, the crowd sang every word, including the infamous third verse. He ended with “You Look Good in my Truck” and his current hit single “I Met a Girl.” William Michael Morgan has what a lot of country purists are looking for and it’s nice to see someone like that getting the attention they deserve.
The final act of the show was rising star Chris Lane whose current single “Fix” is climbing the charts. Lane began his set with “Saturday Night” and “Her Own Kind of Beautiful,” two songs from his EP titled Fix. After that he covered Tim McGraw’s “Just to See You Smile” and Rascal Flatt’s “These Days.” Lane has become very well-known for his medleys of pop song covers so after pleading with the girls in the audience to sing along with him so he doesn’t look like a fool he broke into snippets of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” ‘N Sync’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” Backstreet Boys’ “As Long as You Love Me,” and Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” The crowd loved every minute of it. He slowed things down a bit and sang his song “For Her,” which he said was the sweetest lyrics he could ever write. After another assortment of pop songs including ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” complete with the infamous dance moves, he finished the night with his single “Fix.” Chris Lane is very energetic on stage and is able to keep the crowd entertained whether he is singing country ballads or uptempo pop tunes.
93.3 Jake FM’s New Face Showcase was a fantastic show. Even though admission was free for everyone, there was a chance to purchase VIP tickets that included access to a VIP lounge with food, free t-shirts and the ability to meet the stars of the show. I highly recommend you do this for any of the radio station’s future events; it is well worth it. You may not be familiar with any or all the artists featured in this showcase but I encourage you to check them out and follow them as they make their marks on country music.