There is an artist, a singer and songwriter, that has been a part of my three year relationship with my best friend from the very beginning. Last Friday night, in Clarkston (Detroit), Judd and I finally got to see him perform live, and I had a lot of feelings about it. I did my best to put the short version on instagram (@13kristenelizabeth) this past weekend, but I knew I couldn’t resist telling the long version.
I think it was on our very first date in May of 2014 that Judd asked me if I had heard of Sam Hunt. I hadn’t, and I attribute that to the fact that he was an artist in transition from uploading free music to SoundCloud to preparing to release his first studio album, and because it wasn’t exactly common knowledge that he was the writer behind Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” and Billy Currington’s “We Are Tonight.” Judd, however, explained all of this to me, clearly passionate about the music this man made, taking pride in finding this talent before he became mainstream. It didn’t take listening to many of Sam’s songs for me to understand Judd’s enthusiasm, or for me to be impressed with his taste in music, still one of my favorite things about him. To me, that summer is signified by “Leave The Night On”; my favorite thing was to be in the passenger seat of Judd’s truck, listening to him sing along (quite well). A different song, “Take Your Time,” later became “our song” because the concept of it aligned with how we started – without forcing anything, just getting to know each other; the stealing of covers and meeting of each other’s mothers fell into place later.
The difficult thing about falling in love with a new artist, for us anyway, was seeing him live. We tried and failed to our second summer; it was announced that Sam would be performing at our local country music festival (Birthday Bash), so we got tickets and parking passes and shared our increased excitement as the countdown to Birthday Bash slowly ran down. But the second day, the day Sam was supposed to play, was cancelled due to rain and flooding. Since then, we’ve waited for another opportunity, which turned out to be last Friday night for the #15ina30tour. We bought presale tickets, made travel plans, and then spent last week leading up to the show just geeking out because we were finally, after three years, going to see Sam Hunt.
It was everything and more that I hoped it would be. Sam created exactly the kind of atmosphere you want at a concert; bright, but deep, every moment magic and meaningful. Sam was all smiles and dance moves and sweet words, so obviously content onstage and with his life in general right now. He even mentioned that he still feels like he’s on his honeymoon (congrats to him and Hannah Lee; I love their love story).
Anyway, more than briefly mentioning Hannah and his life, he took a portion of the show to give his backstory. I know artists sometimes take time to share personal messages, but I guess I didn’t fully expect, or know how to react to, his down-to-earth, understated, and culturally relevant manner. After taking the time to share his life story, he brought up how our generation is the first to completely grow up with technology, making us the most connected generation yet. In his (adorable) Georgia accent, he said that this ability to connect so well no matter where we come from will lead our generation to break away some of the divisive walls that have been built between people. Then he shrugged and explained that “that’s what’s been on [his] heart lately.”
The elegance of his simple remark to me was that he never once said anything about opinions or beliefs or condemned anybody, he was just pointing out our shared humanity. In his talk of connection, he was connecting in a personal and positive way. To me, his small heart-to-heart shines among my brightest memories from the concert.
After our night at the #15ina30tour, I feel more in awe of the genuine and talented Sam Hunt, and even more in love with the guy who first introduced me to him. The man that has spent the last three years singing his lyrics to me through vibrant, freckled smiles and who held my hand and danced with me the entire night, as carefree as always. As carefree, in fact, as he’s always been and as I have been slowly working towards becoming in the three years I have been lucky enough to have him as a positive force in my life. I like to joke that I’ve been living for the bass drop in “Breakup in a Small Town” since 2014, or that I’ve been living for Sam since then, but really, if I’m going to use that phrase, it would better apply to man that showed me Sam’s music and has been so graciously taking my time. I can’t thank him enough for filling my days with happiness and good music, or for sharing special moments like those we spent with Sam, last Friday night.
Also – I just wanted to note that I was psyched to see Maren Morris too, and both her presence and performance were simultaneously radiant and bad-ass. Chris Jansen was a sweetheart, and Ryan Follese was as nice and down-to-earth as he was that one time I saw Hot Chelle Rae perform (probably the coolest thing I did when I was 13).