Todays Country Magazine || Jeffrey Kurtis
When Chris Ramos and Ben Chism’s solo careers collided into one another, an entirely new, repurposed direction was born within each of them. The solo struggles of seemingly always taking one step forward and two steps back is grating, unnerving, and shakes your goals and dreams to the core; so much so that each of them was on the verge of entirely giving up their musical dreams.
Out of that lowest spot, though, the silver lining was found when they launched into their next chapter as the bona fide country music duo, BoomTown Saints.
Since then, they’ve signed with 8 Track Entertainment, charted their first single “All Trucks Go To Heaven,” and built an extremely strong following; all of whom seemed to have shown up for this show at the legendary Nashville venue, The Basement.
Though The Basement is certainly a Music City hotspot for finding some of the best new music on the scene today, it still carries a distinction of being a hidden gem where locals can go to celebrate the music that they love without all the tourist hoopla of downtown attached to it.
It’s dimly lit feature mimics the feel of a traditional basement and sets the atmosphere, while the Christmas lights strung over the top of the corner bar add a homey element and the posters and stickers adorning every inch of the black walls give the audience a colorful list of those who have called this hallowed stage home.
“If you’ve ever been to one of our shows, then you know that we upstage ourselves with our friends. Tonight, is no exception!” told Ramos as he welcomed Nissi Lee to the stage.
Lee, a renowned hair and makeup artist by day, moonlights at night with an acoustic guitar in hand, embedding herself into the rich tapestry of the Nashville songwriting community with her uniquely branded style which she eagerly put on display over her quick, 20-minute set.
Drawing from a folksy R&B flavored soul kissed twist, she added her soft vocal and proper hush to songs such as “Amensia,” “Better Because of You,” and “Time,” captivating the otherwise ruckus crowd and bringing the noisy space to a listening room type of lull as they leaned inventively into each word she sung.
Keeping strongly in line with her signature style, but also swerving it into more of a throwback lounge era aura within its confines, she rounded out her set to huge ovations when she played “Vacation” and “It Makes Me Feel Good,” the latter which she said to be a personal favorite before playing.
FULL SET LIST
2) Better Because of You
5) It Makes Me Feel Good
As the lights dimmed and a blue like hue overtook the stage, the crowd built with anticipation as the house music cranked into a thumping bass rhythm through the on-stage speakers, and with an enthusiastic shout of “LET’S GO!” from Chris, the BoomTown Saints pushed into their set with “Even on a Bad Day,” immediately showcasing their extremely catchy sound as they had the crowd instantly bopping along with them, giving everyone inside the packed venue a flavorful dose of their cohesiveness, harmonies, and addictively unbridled energy as Ben sang us through the ultra-positive lyric.
“We came here to have a good time, so let’s have some fun tonight,” Chris excitedly said with a smile on his face as the drum pounded the beat into the tap along rhythm of “Don’t Get Caught,” a dusty branded country song that saw Ben drop into a deeper register vocally through the grittier, dirtier verses before the song hit a rock edged bounce through its chorus that effectively got heads throughout the crowd bobbing along as several also popped their hips side to side in time with the groove.
Rolling right into the insatiable beat of the obvious fan favorite “Blacktop Don’t” kept everyone in the venue dancing along with its swampy, southern rock infused vibe as they clapped along and sang out the final chorus while Chris (sans guitar) and Ben patrolled the front of the stage engaging the crowd and pulling them further into their rowdy driven set.
“We haven’t played Nashville since 2021 and a lot has happened since then,” said Chris. “One really cool thing that’s happened is that we had a song go to country radio,” he shared while the crowd applauded, as he then picked the perfect moment to provide an ultra-encouraging message before dropping into “All Trucks Go To Heaven.”
“Where we’re at now on this journey is only because a lot of years of hurt, failure, and things we wished we had done a little differently. But we never gave up…we never stopped! Somebody in here tonight wants to give up, but I’m telling you that this is your sign to not give up; that we’re even standing here today! God loves every one of us and everyone has a purpose.”
After leading the crowd in a call and answer of “I say hell…you say yeah” Ben told, “We wrote this next song about 3 or 4 weeks ago,” as he then asked if there were any nurses, doctors, teachers, mechanics, or anyone in the crowd that keeps the world going, dedicating “Salute” to them, during which the chorus craftily paused at its hook to provide an audience participation moment when everyone brought their voices together and raised a glass in the air… “Salute!”
“Thank you for being here tonight and for getting us here,” humbly stated Ramos. “There are so many people in this crowd who stood by us when we wanted to give up. Thank you!” he gratefully shared with a pause as the crowd reacted. “Do we have any first responders or active duty here tonight?” he asked as he dedicated with pure appreciation to them, “Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue,” the Toby Keith smash which had everyone proudly singing along as Chris and Ben highlighted their drummer, Caleb Eubanks, to a huge ovation when they shared that he was a US Marine.
Slowing the pace for the first time of the night with “Lose A Lady” offered them the opportunity to showcase their versatility as Ben expertly poured emotions into the heartbreak lyric while Chris solidified the harmony to lift the chorus to gut punching heights.
Letting the music do the talking for them at the start of the second half of their set, they dropped into the funky groove heavy rhythm of “Want Me Back,” showcasing each of the band members individuality as they spotlighted each player’s talent before hitting into the rowdy, Friday night anthem, “County Line,” which had the crowd fist pumping along with the mud stomper melody as they spliced into a rebel rousing version of “In the Air Tonight” during the outro.
Sharing an onstage toast with the crowd in appreciation to them, Ramos jokingly said, “Hey…we wrote this one about two weeks ago and we hope you like it,” as the crowd ignited during the opening notes of Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That,” which lit up the place as everyone danced and shouted the lyrics back at the stage, bringing the already rousing party up to a whole other level.
Clapping along with the bass drum beat as Chris told of the conversation with someone in Philly about football and church that inspired “Tennessee Kinda Tipsy,” they blasted into the mountain bluegrass infused knee slapper, once again showing their versatility as they and the crowd huck danced along with the old timey flavor as they praised the South with a classic Grand Ole Opry type of feel wrapped around the melody.
Chris interjected midway through the song, “while we were writing this one, we lost a true country music legend. And so, we began to think, how can we do this in such a way that it pays homage! When suddenly it hit me! Do a verse like Charlie (Daniels) would,” which intriguingly then saw Ben dip into a spewing like style akin to Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Though Chris called a bit of an audible by not introducing “Good Woman” the way they do it every other night, the introduction to the song embraced the local crowd in monumental ways that shined a bright light on his sister’s faith in him, and on his wife for continuing to deliver him from his past:
“A lot of people here tonight know my story and the depths that I’ve been to, and if you don’t know my story just trust that you can’t go any lower,” he emotionally shared as he choked up, “and the fact that I’m standing here tonight…I owe that to my sister!” he paused as the crowd showered her with cheers before he then turned the spotlight toward his wife. “I met her because my sister saved me, and now she has given me physical hope with our beautiful daughter,” he smiled big.
After teaching the crowd the sing along parts, Ramos instigated, “We’re all a bunch of friends and family here tonight…and I know y’all can sing!” as they blasted into “Million Miles to Free” which the crowd aptly jumped into singing with them as Chris pulled out his phone to record the monumental moment when the crowd and band’s voices blended as one unified choir.
Gratefully thanking the crowd over and over again, showing a truly humble appreciation for each and every one of the fans, the BoomTown Saints exited the stage to a chorus of cheers and chants of “Encore” and “one more song!”
With one last energetic blast, they returned to the stage with “Small Town Streets” - the first song they ever wrote as a duo – which left the crowd dancing along and salivating for more as they clearly didn’t want the night to end, which skillfully increased the want and need to see them again at their next tour stop.
The BoomTown Saints accomplished so much more than just putting on another show on this night…they gave the crowd an all-out, feel-good party! But rather than being a band that placed themselves on a different, higher level, they stood side by side with the crowd and came across as the longtime friends who were inviting everyone to have a good time with them as they brought the talent and energy level to the gathering, while injecting it with humble, down-home personalities that made you want to stay and not miss a single moment of the memorable night.
FULL SET LIST
1) Even on a Bad Day
2) Don’t Get Caught
3) Blacktop Don’t
4) All Trucks Go To Heaven
6) Courtesy Of The Red, White, And Blue (Toby Keith cover)
7) Lose A Lady
8) Want Me Back
9) County Line
10) Something Like That (Tim McGraw cover)
11) Tennessee Kinda Tipsy
12) Good Woman
13) Million Miles to Free
14) Small Town Streets