Charlie Worsham said some of the best country music fans around can be found in Indiana, and the up and coming musician is excited about playing for them Thursday in the second part of Victory Theatre's summer music series - Summer Country Nights. "I love the intimacy of a smaller venue. The impact you can make with each person in the audience is so much greater," said Worsham, who will be playing after an opening set by Chris Stapleton. "Venues like this one make for great memories, giving you the opportunity to hear and tell so many stories. When you are playing for thousands or more, the audience becomes one giant entity. As much as I'd like to connect with more, usually it is just the folks in the first 20 rows. But in this setting I can look in everyone's eyes and see if they are digging a song. Things can be done on the fly to make the show more exciting for the specific audience in the room."
Worsham, whose debut album "Rubberband" will be released Aug. 20, joked that the audience can expect to see his jaw drop to the floor when Stapleton hits the stage.
"I love him," he said. "He's great. Part of me is kind of nervous having him play before me."
But Worsham spent the last seven years as a singer-songwriter and session musician for Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and others artists. He's opened for several musicians, including Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert.
"Rubberband" has been described as "boundarypushing but endlessly catchy," and offers a selection of songs that integrate elements of bluegrass, country, pop and rock and roll. Worsham revamps classic country with intricate arrangements, leftof-center flourishes and inventive riffs.
In addition to playing music from the album, he plans to pull out his banjo to bring to life his online cover challenges - where fans give him a different song (examples: "Gangnam Style," "Low Rider" and "Crazy Train") for him to arrange, play all the different parts, record and mix in 24 hours.
One of his favorite parts of touring - besides the music - is getting to travel and see new places. Worsham is looking forward to discovering a nice local coffee shop and perhaps score a few bottles of unique or local hot sauces.
"I love to run through town and see what it feels like to be a resident there for a day," the Mississippi native said.
But while on tour, Worsham misses one family member who isn't able to tag along - his excitable basset hound Thelma Lou.
"This venue will be a great chance to meet with people one on one," he said. "I look forward to meeting each of them. I enjoy hearing stories about how they connected with 'Could it Be' and what it meant to their own lives."
Worsham said while on the road fans will tell him their stories of crossing the line and becoming more than friends.
"Rubberband" single "Could it Be" has gained traction promoting the album's release next week.
"They say you've got your whole life to make your first record and that couldn't ring more true for me," Worsham said of "Rubberband." "On this album, I took so many things I'd wanted to say in song form for years, and channeled them into lyrics and melodies and guitar solos in a way that shows my influences, but also takes some crazy turns."
One of Worsham's earliest memories of music was going to see his dad - a banker by trade but drummer at heart - play with a local band.
"During sound check, I sat in his lap and hit the drums, and that's the first time I got the bug to make music."
Worsham plays several instruments, including the piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle, and jokes that he got into the habit of taking on a new instrument every year.
After graduating from high school, Worsham attended Berklee College of Music for two and a half years before leaving to go to Nashville, where he still lives to concentrate on pursuing a music career.
"I feel really lucky to have been a part of the Nashville music scene for a while now and have worn all these different hats," he said. "I gained a broader perspective on the importance of surrounding yourself with other musicians you know and trust. One of my main goals as a musician is to respect the past of country music as well as its future. I hope that I can someday be one of those folks who represent the music in a greater sense, and carry it somewhere forward that's different and exciting."
What: Summer Country Nights concert series featuring Charlie Worsham with opening by Chris Stapleton
Where: The Victory
When: 8 p.m. today
Tickets: $21.70 or $26.80 are available at the Victory box office or from ticketmaster.com, where additional fees may apply
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