On Friday, April 28, Randall King brought his brand of traditional country music back to Joes on Weed St. in Chicago, IL as a stop on his 2023 headlining run.
The Texas native dominated the stage, leaving the audience to soak up every bit of his traditional country sound. The minute he approached the mic to deliver a hard-hitting performance of his unapologetic track, “Small Town BS,” King set the tone for the night ahead.
Looking out into the packed crowd, the singer/songwriter asked the most important question of the night, “Are you ready to honky tonk?” With cheers of excitement, the audience made it known that they were ready for King’s heart-pounding setlist, which featured 18 songs out of his catalog including “Baby Do,” “Dent In It,” “Roger, Miller Lite and Me,” “Mirror, Mirror,” “Tuggin’ On My Heartstrings,” “Hey Cowgirl,” and more.
Plus, he delivered the viral sensation, “You In A Honky Tonk,” his brand-new unreleased track, “When My Baby’s In Boots,” and a medley that tested his fans’ knowledge of classic country with songs like Joe Diffie’s “John Deere Green,” Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy,” Rhett Akins’ “That Ain’t My Truck,” and Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.”
For only the second time ever, King played his unreleased song, “When My Baby’s In Boots,” which is slated to drop on May 5. The smooth two-stepping track is an ode to the women who put on their dancing shoes in preparation for a night in a honky tonk. King’s gritty vocals and effortless guitar plucks make for the perfect soundtrack to a twang-filled weekend on the town.
While the night included plenty of electrifying, boot-stompin’ jams, King also let his emotions take over as he honored his late sister, Leanna, who passed away in April of 2020 from liver failure. Before diving into his sentimental tune, “Around Forever,” he reflected on their time together and encouraged everyone in the crowd to tell their loved ones how much they mean to them and not to take the small things in life for granted.
The year he lost his sister, King created an honest and incredibly raw EP, which he named after her as a heartfelt tribute to this great loss. This collection of songs was followed by the “Record High” singer’s Live EP which was recorded at Nashville’s Brooklyn Bowl, his Honky Tonk BS EP, and his 2022 album, Shot Glass.
King is currently touring the US as a headliner, but in the fall, he will hit the road in support of country superstar Jon Pardi’s Mr. Saturday Night World Tour. These artists have worked together in the past, but this upcoming trek will mark their first tour together. King will join Pardi for six dates total.
This comes in addition to his upcoming visits to the UK, Europe and King Fest, which will make its Nashville debut on August 18 and 19.
Before taking the stage, Randall King caught up with Country Now to discuss his new music, seeing the success behind his song, “You In A Honky Tonk,” upcoming performances, and more. He also teased that a new project is currently in the works and due to drop later this year.
How have your shows been going so far this year?
Man, it’s been incredible. This year we started out strong, still going strong, gotta finish it out strong too. We’ve been selling out, we sold out more shows this year than I have in my entire career, basically. It’s been incredible. We’ve broken into new markets and in those new markets, you know, we put 2,300 down in North Carolina for the first time in there. So I mean, it’s been incredible. The fans have made us who we are.
What are the songs you look forward to playing most during your shows?
Honestly, I mean, every night I look forward to “Mirror, Mirror” and “You In A Honky Tonk.” Those are the two biggest songs. But tonight, I’m excited to play our new song that we got coming out May 5 called, “When My Baby’s In Boots.” I’m looking forward to it.
Can you talk more about what fans can expect from your upcoming release?
It’s a two-step honk tonker. It’s one of those that’s for the girls out there, when they’re getting ready for the show and putting their boots on and make their TikToks. Then they get out here to the show and two step. Or even just a night on the town, man, put your boots on, go out for a night on the town. That’s what that song is. It’s just a fun little tip to the hat to girls who wear cowboy boots.
Have you had the chance to debut “When My Baby’s In Boots” live yet?
We played it live for the first time last night. It was great. We crushed it. The crowd loved it. You know, it’s a new song, so they stare at you for a little while, but they’re jamming.
This song will follow your latest release, “Green Eyes Blue.” When did inspiration spark for this heartfelt song?
So, I wrote that about my girlfriend, Brittany, before we were dating and I was still pretty wild I remember being at her place and I could see that her heart was really in this and I wasn’t quite there yet. And I just remember going, “man, I just hate to make her green eyes blue.” And we started dating and decided I’m leaving all that behind. This is where I’m at. That’s my dedication. I’m dedicated to her.
When you introduced “Green Eyes Blue” on social media, you said, “Welcome to the neon era of country music.” How would you describe this “neon era”?
When you think of neon, your first instinct is bars. Your first instinct is honky tonks. And we’re bringing in the western realm into neon honky tonk. It’s time. The pendulum’s swinging in Nashville, real country’s coming back around and you’re watching that with guys like (Jon) Pardi, Cody Johnson, even Parker McCollum’s getting in there on that steel guitar. So you’re watching the pendulum swing back towards country music and that’s what this is. Welcome to the neon era of country music. We had the bro country era, we had the shotgun seat tailgate, we had that. It’s time, country music’s back around.
Another song that has quickly become a fan-favorite is “You In A Honky Tonk.” What was it like seeing this blow up on social media?
That was nuts. Everybody was using that song, a lot of my heroes using it. I mean it was just nuts, man. I don’t even know how…honestly, you kind of stumped me I don’t know how to describe it. You wait for moments like that. I’ve never had a viral moment like that. “Hey Cowgirl” blew up for us, but “You In A Honky Tonk,” I guarantee you that song crossed everybody’s cell phone, right in front of their face just because of TikTok. So I’m known as that honky tonk guy. And that song re-blew up “Mirror, Mirror” for us.
You recently posted that you were working on some stuff with Marty Stuart. Can you share anything about what came from that writing session?
Nothing I can really divulge into yet. We were just writing songs. Me and Marty go way back, all the way to last year. In January of last year, I got to write with him for the first time, and then he told me I was gonna make my Grand Old Opry debut and invited me to the Opry. So that was a powerful moment. And then we sat there and wrote a really cool little bluegrass, Ricky Skaggs, type of song.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
We got a new record coming out this fall. That’s what we’re gearing up for. That’s what we’re working for. Those first two singles are the first snippets of it.
Earlier this year you played in the UK for C2C festival and you’re heading back to the UK and Europe in the fall. How did it feel to get to play to those audiences?
I think the biggest thing is those people out there are probably more excited and more engaged because it’s rare for them to see you. I’ve never been over there, so they’ve never seen me where it’s like, you know, it’s our fourth time in Chicago. We play East Coast, California, so, I mean, we’re here. You have the opportunity to see us. Over there, you don’t really have that opportunity unless you come over to the United States. So for them, they’re excited and they get to see something that they never get to see.
It was recently announced that King Fest will be coming to Nashville for the first time in August. When did you start putting on this event?
So, originally, the first King Fest was gonna be in 2020. The lineup was Josh Ward, Triston Marez, and Jake Worthington, which was a hell of a lineup. And then when, you know, COVID hit the fan, we trimmed it down to basically just a headline show, sold out, we kept Jake Worthington on it, and then we officially did the first King Fest in 2021. And then we did it again last year, ‘22.
This is the first time in Nashville. The dream and the goal is to branch it out to a King Fest on the East coast, King Fest west Coast, King Fest Nashville, King Fest Texas.
Fans can keep up with Randall King on Instagram.