Country artists, fans and others are taking Chase Rice to task after he put on a concert Saturday in Tennessee for upwards of 4,000 fans, most of whom were not wearing masks or social distancing.
The show was an anomaly in a season where virtually every touring artist, country or otherwise, has put a hold on doing live concerts. Rice was performing at the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, which was converted from a prison into a venue years ago. Brushy Mountain’s management said they followed safety guidelines, noting they allowed in less than half of the venue’s 10,000 person capacity. Still, it was a pretty tightly packed audience, as seen in a now-deleted stage video of the crowd that Rice posted on his Instagram. But you can still see it, as well as a harsh admonishment from fellow country artist Kelsea Ballerini, here.
Ballerini called Rice “selfish”, adding that while “we all want (and need) to tour. We just care enough about our fans to wait“.
Ballerini wasn’t the only artist to take Rice to task. Americana star Jason Isbell suggested Rice must be “broke” if he felt the need to put his fans at risk. And artist Mickey Guyton said “I’m asthmatic…I’m high risk and seeing this just broke me. Shame on him“. Also criticizing him, an artist manager, Whitney Pastorek, who wrote on her social media, “our industry was a shining light of what happens when people place the well-being of society over their pocketbooks. We did it RIGHT and we didn’t complain. Has it been hard? F*** yes! I don’t have a job. But even if it meant I could earn back every lost dollar and second of lost health insurance I would not work with an act who decided to jeopardize the health of their fans the way Chase Rice and Chris Janson did last night. It’s abhorrent.”
And she mentions Janson because Rice wasn’t the only country artist to perform to a live audience over the weekend. Janson performed before thousands at a music festival in Filer, Idaho. He too deleted footage of the performance from social media. And Granger Smith also recently performed live.
To be fair, there is support from fans of the artists but they appear to be decidedly in the minority. It will be interesting to see as this story continues to develop what the artists say, and how more of the industry reacts.
The concerts occurred as Covid-19 cases are spiking in many states, including Tennessee and Idaho.