Paisley, Kane Brown, and Dan Tyminski bring tour to Long Island for a Nash Beach Bash

Nestled somewhere far off the east coast of Long Island, across a few marsh-like isles and slips, in a place seemingly worlds away from the gravitas of Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s behemoth Barclay’s Center, lies an outdoor stadium with its own unique charm. Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theatre played host to Brad Paisley’s summer tour Friday night (Aug 10th), with special guests Dan Tyminski and Kane Brown.

Jones Beach seems to be the perfect venue for a Brad Paisley concert. After all, there is something about watching a country music concert while boats float on the water right next to the stage that feels more at-home for this genre than in the center of a major metropolis. It makes you forget that the bay behind you is not, in fact, the Lake of the Ozarks.

Dan Tyminski began his set just as the sun started dimming, at 7:30. His half-hour consisted of songs from last October’s stunning Southern Gothic album. Known to legions of fans as the male lead vocalist with Alison Krauss and Union Station, Tyminski closed his set with a re-tooled “Dustbowl Children,” and I promptly lost my cool — directly into the ears of the poor people in front of me. (If you’re reading this, sorry.) This version of “Dustbowl Children” needs to go on a record. Now. (And no, I won’t spoil anything about the new arrangement. Let’s just say this EDM-bluegrass thing has gotten into Tyminski’s blood.)

While Tyminski’s voice was on-point, I believe the outdoor sound system did not do service to the complex arrangements present in his numbers. The best place to see Dan Tyminski, as I did earlier this year, is in a smaller, intimate setting where these songs can really be appreciated. I’ll just say it: I am a huge Tyminski fan. And I always will be.

The audience had many teenage girls in the audience who were not necessarily there for the night’s headliner. Rather, these high school and college age girls sported merch with the name of the night’s middle act, Kane Brown. Brown earned his middle spot on this tour thanks to his trip around the awards show circuit last season, and has ignited like wildfire among a group of fans who may not listen to country music.

Although, whether Brown’s rap-inspired music could be considered country at all is up for debate. To me personally, he comes off as Nashville’s attempt at a Justin Bieber-type. However, I perked up when Brown started talking about his rough childhood, which led into a song called “Learning,” that gave me chills. Combining rap style with country’s honesty, it struck a chord. If Brown can continue mining his life for songs, and abandon the ‘same-line-over-and-over-again-is-a-chorus’ mentality, he will last in Nashville.

By 9:20 pm, It was time for the man of the hour. Brad Paisley took the stage with “Mud on the Tires,” playing a paint-splattered guitar. Rather than wear a headset, Paisley had microphone stands strategically placed throughout the stage: three on the main stage, one on the catwalk, with several others popping up as needed. It was almost as fun to watch the stage hands reload a stand every time Paisley popped a microphone out and walked away with it. Or, every time he threw a mic back to his crew, as if daring them to catch it.

Paisley played over 20 songs in a 105-minute set, barely stopping to take a breath. Songs including “Old Alabama,” “Crushin’ it,” and “The World” drove by like an 18-wheeler rolling down a freeway. Paisley is known for his ability to connect with an audience, thanks to a wry wit that would have served him well as a stand-up, had he not achieved 20 No. 1 hits. At this show alone, Paisley signed an electric guitar and gave it to a little girl, facilitated two proposals (the second one a renewal from a concert last year), and creeped on a girl’s smartphone and found out she had just bought a speedo for her boyfriend.

Celebrity duets with John Fogerty and Carrie Underwood were made possible by the large video screen behind the band. While Dan Tyminski joined Paisley onstage for a thumping rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow.” (Tyminski provided George Clooney’s voice for the song in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?) Kane Brown also came back to duet on “I’m Still a Guy.”

The multimedia experience of the night also deserves mention: The graphics were often customized to the date and location, and Brad Paisley really seemed to soak up being at Jones Beach. I also counted at least ten guitar changes, and nearly that many electric six strings. For example, on “Water,” he wore an ocean-inspired glitter-topped instrument. It never returned to the stage after that song. Liberace had his shiny outfits, and Brad has his sparkly, paisley pattern-topped guitars.

Brad Paisley will go down as an untouchable legend: funny, kind, and articulate. He has built a career out of maximizing those traits. He is the consummate performer: a pure singer-songwriter, as good a guitarist as Dickey Betts, and as amazing a showman as Elton John. There is no better place for such an artist — who sings about water, river banks, and party-hard weekends — than Jones Beach.