(By Chuck Dauphin – Billboard.com) As a relatively new artist, Chris Weaver has spent a lot of time on the road in the United States getting acquainted with fans and radio programmers. However, this spring, the West Virginia native took his music on the road like never before — all the way to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
How did he get invited to make the trip? “We were playing downtown in Nashville, and Sorocaba of Fernando & Sorocaba was in town seeing the sights and doing his thing. He sees us at The Stage one night. He just happened to be looking for some American talent. He flew me and Jeff Catton, my manager, down for two weeks.”
Once they got down there, the men were surprised by what they found. “We get down there, and he winds up being the George Strait of Brazil. For 10 days, we toured the whole country, and he’s playing for 15,000 to 30,000 people each night. They let me sing and perform on every show, which was an incredible experience. We ended up creating a small fanbase and are going back down there in September, and then maybe next spring.”
Weaver, who has also snapped up American fans with singles such as “Raise the Dead” and “Time Has Wings,” is looking forward to going back. “There’s so much potential with this, because Brazilians know so many different American tunes. They’ll sing them. We played [John Denver’s] ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ and [Alabama’s] ‘Dixieland Delight,’ some Kings of Leon, and [Creedence Clearwater Revival’s] ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain,’ and they were singing every word back to us. What they are doing is trying to inject more American country into what they are doing. Fernando & Sorocaba is the first [Brazilian act] to use banjo, fiddle and pedal steel. The next couple years are going to be really interesting, I think. We’re excited to see what kind of adventures that come from this.”
Weaver hopes video footage from his trip to Brazil makes its way to Nashville’s Music Row. “It really opens up a bridge for us,” he tells Billboard. “You can try to explain it to somebody, but until you see the pictures and put it in perspective, it’s tough. My voice and my style are a little different, so for people to see this and realize that we can entertain this many people is a big thing. Hopefully, that opens a door here in the States and makes people take somewhat of a harder look and maybe gives us a little more credibility. If I can just get Portuguese for Dummies down, I’d be set.”
Weaver’s latest single, “Time Has Wings,” has a very “baby boomer” feel, he says, “because it’s about your parents, about you. I didn’t know how well it would do with the younger demographic, but it’s gone over amazingly well. It’s probably one of the best-selling singles we have had. It’s a great contextual song. I’m glad to see that people are listening to the words, because with one like that … you’ve got to.”
Knowing that his music isn’t typical of Nashville these, days, the singer says he is grateful to his radio team of Regina Raleigh, Ann Chrisman and J.R. Hughes. “The rewarding part has been that because I’m not bro-country, or even country by traditional definition, it’s been cool that I’ve been given the opportunity by radio. ‘Time Has Wings’ or ‘Raise the Dead’ are songs about life, not about trucks or any singular thing. I like those types of songs. You can talk about the weekend, fishing or whatever you want, but at the end of the day, life is still about living and dying, your parents and reflecting on where you are in the world as you get older. I feel that people need those songs. I believe that people are longing for that more. It’s not all about finding a girl and drinking a beer. There’s so much more to life. I’m not saying I write that all the time. Obviously, I write my fair share of girl songs, because they are the easiest thing to write about, but there’s got to be something more. Hopefully, we can bring that to audiences here — and beyond!”