Here are five acts who we think are headed quickly to the fast lane:
Itâ€™s very unusual to see an opening act thrill a crowd as much as the headliner. But in the same case of Hunt, he gaveÂ Lady AntebellumÂ a run for their money on the groupâ€™s Wheels Up tour, delivering a set that kept most of the crowd on their feet throughout. Of course, Huntâ€™s good looks and charisma didnâ€™t hurt either, as the audience — particular at Nashvilleâ€™s Bridgestone Arena last month — sang his lyrics back to him word for word. Somehow, we donâ€™t think that Hunt will remain on this list for long.
Brad PaisleyÂ made one of the wisest touring moves of his career by inviting Capitol Nashvilleâ€™s Guyton to open shows for him this year. Industry insiders know all about her vocal prowess — her 2013 Country Radio Seminar performance at the Ryman Auditorium remains widely talked-about among radio. But her performance on the Paisley tour helped to open fansâ€™ eyes to a talent who just might be Nashvilleâ€™s best female artist sinceÂ Carrie Underwood.
One of the biggest musical injustices in the format is that Nail is not a household name. Whether it be rocking the crowd with an uptempo hit or captivating fans with just himself and a piano, as he does on the magical â€œSound of a Million Dreams,â€ Nail is the gold standard. He doesnâ€™t have a bigger fan thanÂ Darius Rucker, who said of his 2015 opening act, â€œDavid is the real deal. I go out and watch him and his voice is so full of life. And he is a GREAT guy!!â€
Technical pyrotechnics at Luke Bryanâ€™s July Vanderbilt tour de force aside, one of the most talked-about performances was that of Houser. Heâ€™s been paying his dues for years now, and heâ€™s more than ready — and capable — of taking that next step. He can show his rock swagger as good as anyone, but when Houser delivers a ballad, the show might as well be over. Itâ€™s one of those Montana-to-Rice, A-Rod at bat, Jordan at the line moments. Game over.
If you go to a show where Janson is featured and you didnâ€™t forget your problems and have a good time, itâ€™s your own damn fault. Whether youâ€™re a fan of old-school country likeÂ Hank WilliamsÂ or modern hits like Tim McGrawâ€™s â€œTruck Yeah,â€ which he co-wrote, you will leave a performance feeling energized. The old saying about a country artist standing in one place for the entire show definitely doesnâ€™t apply to Janson. We donâ€™t think he stands in the same place — more than once.