'Cadillac' Houser is WE Fest newbie
Though Thursday may mark his first time on the WE Fest stage, the music of country singer-songwriter Randy Houser will undoubtedly have a familiar feel to regulars at the 27-year-old country music festival.
Strongly influenced by the music of his country idols like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Waylon Jennings, Houser has a growing number of his own hits to please the Soo Pass crowd, starting with debut single "Anything Goes" and its follow-up, "Boots On."
He's looking forward to taking the stage at Soo Pass Ranch on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.
"I'm excited about it -- looking at the lineup, it sounds like a lot of fun," Houser said Tuesday, speaking from his tour bus en route to Minneapolis.
"I always like to watch Keith Urban play and the Montgomery Gentry guys are good friends of mine," he added.
It's been a fast-paced couple of years for Houser, who said trips back home to visit his family in Lake, Mississippi have been few and far between.
"I spend most of the year on the road," he added. "'On the Road Again' would be the perfect theme song for us right now."
In fact, Houser's crew has traveled the country so much this past year that when asked where he was at the time of the interview, he responded, "I don't know."
Houser further noted that the tour bus would be stopping for the night in Minneapolis, where they planned to take a couple of days to rest and recharge before heading up the highway to Detroit Lakes and WE Fest.
Though he may not always know where he is at a given moment, Houser does like where he's headed.
"I never really wanted to do anything else," he said. "My daddy was a musician ... when I saw him play, I knew what I wanted to do, and that's pretty much all I've ever wanted.
"I never really cared much about being a star, and I still don't. I just want to be able to do something I really love for a living. I don't need to be rich and famous ... as long as I can pay my bills and play the guitar, I'm good."
After the success of his first album, "Anything Goes," Houser is set to release a second CD, "They Call Me Cadillac," on Sept. 21 (Cadillac actually is his nickname, Houser noted).
Fans at WE Fest will have the chance to hear some of the songs on both albums on Thursday.
"We'll definitely be playing music from the new record in Detroit Lakes," he said -- hinting that one of those songs might be the new single he is planning to release to radio in September.
Though there are a few songs on his records that may have been penned with a partner, "I do most of the writing myself," Houser said.
"I've been writing songs ever since I can remember," he added. "I started playing guitar when I was five years old."
By the time he was 14, he was already making a living by playing in bars around Mississippi, and "I was writing songs back then," Houser said.
He drew on his experiences from growing up in Mississippi, and later, from his experiences on the road.
"It's real life -- that's where the songs come from," Houser said.
Despite the grind of life on the road, he added, "I love the whole thing. That's really what I got into music for, was to play live. I like that immediate reaction when people hear the music -- watching how the music makes them feel. They're having a good time, and we feed off their energy.
"The more energy they put into listening, the more we're giving it back ... that's what makes the show get better and better."
WE Fest gets underway tonight at the Soo Pass Ranch House south of Detroit Lakes, with a kickoff party featuring music by 32 Below. The bar opens at 4 p.m., and the band will play at 9 p.m.
The same group will also kick off Thursday's lineup on the main stage at 2:45 p.m. (See the Entertainment pages 6B and 7B in today's isue for the full schedule.)
The festival also boasts the main stage debuts of this year's Karaoke Roundup winners. Shane Parsons of North Dakota and Lisa Fine and Stephanie Rollings of southern Minnesota will each open for one of this year's major acts: Urban, Rock and Chesney, respectively.