NASHVILLE, Tenn. (September 11, 2018) – Thirty thousand country music fans packed into a few blocks on Lower Broadway, flooding the street in front of his new restaurant and singing his songs back to him – that’s Luke Bryan’s kind of Monday night.
Bryan, who is nominated for the Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year, marked the grand opening of his Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink with a free, hit-packed street party complete with surprise guests Ryan Hurd and Cole Swindell.
“Tonight, is your night, Nashville,” he told fans from the stage. “What an amazing sight. Thank you for being here.”
Fans filled Broadway between Third and Fifth Avenues, the blocks Bryan’s team could close for the concert. The audience snaked up side streets, packed the rooftops and pressed against the windows of the bars on Lower Broadway, angling to get a glimpse of Bryan, his mega-watt smile and famous gyrating hips.
The singer launched his 75-minute set with “Country Girl (Shake it for Me),” flipped his black ball cap around backward and then shook “it” for fans. With 21 No. 1 hits, 12 million albums sold, a spot on “American Idol’s” judging panel and his current What Makes You Country Tour studded with 13 stadium shows, Bryan knows what people want and how to deliver. He also cracks himself up. Sometimes he looks like a college kid with dreams in his eyes dancing in front of a mirror. Other times Bryan is serious and poignant, singing about the importance of mamas, equality and hope in “Most People are Good.”
“What a fun night,” Bryan said. “We’re celebrating all the mamas. You better love your mama. You better call your mama and check in because she is a saint,” he said as an intro to chart-topper “Most People Are Good.”
Other highlights of the night included “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” “I Don’t Want this Night to End,” “Light It Up,” “Someone Else Calling You Baby” and “What Makes You Country,” the title track of his current album and stadium tour.
Over the last decade, the Georgia native has built one of the most commercially enviable careers in country music. His first No. 1 hit came as a songwriter in 2006 – he co-wrote Billy Currington’s “Good Directions” with Rachel Thibodeau. Bryan’s first album wasn’t in stores then and it was from his second album three years later that the singer scored his first No. 1 as an artist with “Do I.”
Because of his often lighthearted songs and boyish swagger, Bryan is frequently critically overlooked. He built his fan base by taking his concerts to the creatively underserved people to whom his music spoke – college kids and farm towns. Bryan made a habit of playing spring break in Panama City — his last concert there attracted more than 100,000 fans. And, the singer still embarks on his farm tour every fall, the proceeds of which help fund college scholarships to children from farming families in those communities.
When the singer cuts danceable, sing-along songs he gets dismissed for being fluffy – even though a solid segment of country music fans want to turn up the volume and tune out the world. Bryan was honored to be able to release “Most People are Good” but the song was shut out from awards show nominations despite its country radio success and expertly crafted lyrics.
Now, it seems his fans’ reactions are Bryan’s most reliable form of self-evaluation.
Fellow songwriter and country singer Ryan Hurd was on the receiving end of that adoration Monday night when Bryan brought him on stage to sing “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset,” his current No. 1 that Hurd co-wrote. Hurd often folded his hands as if he were in prayer, shielded his face o obscure that he was emotionally impacted by the opportunity to sing with Bryan in front of such a huge crowd.
Bryan also brought out good friend and fellow country singer Cole Swindell for “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and a cover of Tim McGraw’s “Where the Green Grass Grows.”
The free street party culminated with “Crash My Party,” “Play It Again” and “That’s My Kind of Night.”
Bryan didn’t have a bad day, either. Monday afternoon, Bryan – his wife Caroline by his side – snipped the camouflage ribbon stretched across the doorway of his new restaurant Luke 32 Bridge Food & Drink. The multi-story live entertainment complex is located at 301 Broadway in Nashville and includes six levels, eight bars and four stages.
“When you come to Nashville, the first few things you do are you go to the Grand Ole Opry, you go to the Ryman, you go to Music Row and you go to Broadway and see the famous honky-tonks that you’ve read about for years,” Bryan said, remembering times he played at Tootsies Orchid Lounge and The Stage after he first moved to Nashville. “I feel really blessed to be down here and be a part of it.”
About TC Restaurant Group
TC Restaurant Group operates restaurant venues in multiple cities and offers eight dining and entertainment destinations on lower Broadway in the heart of downtown Nashville. Concepts include Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar, LUKE’S 32 BRIDGE Food + Drink, FGL House, Tequila Cowboy, Wanna B’s Karaoke Bar, Luigi’s City Pizza, Sun Diner, and It’s a Nashville Thing, Y’all Gift Shop.