Popular Actor Is A Versatile Singer & Knows How To Work A Crowd
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
Under clear skies with just the right amount of ocean breeze, actor and singer Charles ‘Chip’ Esten turned The Windjammer on the Isle of Palms into a surfside honky-tonk on Thursday night (July 29th). Before a capacity crowd on the outdoor stage, with the beach and the dunes as his backdrop, Esten proved he is an all around entertainer.
While many may know him from his six years on the hit show ‘Nashville’, and more recently from the Netflix series ‘Outer Banks’ Esten is an accomplished singer songwriter in his own right. Long before his run on ‘Nashville’ Esten was busy writing contemporary tunes, and he performed a bevy of those songs before an appreciative crowd on Thursday.
The beauty of seeing Esten perform live is that he channels all his talents on stage, engaging concert goers not only in song, but in dialogue and in his brand of comedy honed while on ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’. But make no mistake, while Esten is a capable actor he just might be a better singer and entertainer on stage.
Stuck in that void as an actor whose songs never get played on country radio, Esten’s website carries some five dozen songs fans can check out and purchase, and believe me they are just as awesome and often better than the songs mainstream radio play. And although Esten is comfortable offering up ballads, this former Pittsburgh native who resides in Nashville knows how to rock.
On stage he has endless energy, and his style of music runs between Dwight Yoakam and John Mellencamp, as he works the stage and the crowd, belting out what is best described as in your face southern fried country rock. During more than two hours Charleston fans were delighted with over two dozens songs, mostly originals with a few rare rock and pop gems strewn between.
After giving a shoutout to Charleston, where they shoot ‘Outer Banks’ and thanking the crowd for coming out on a Thursday, Esten and his five piece backing band jumped right into honky-tonk style music. A few songs in, he said he enjoyed seeing both sides of the crowds faces, meaning without masks. Esten made mention how season two of ‘Outer Banks’ was dropping after midnight (it’s now available). He saluted the Holy City and made mention that he and his wife would welcome finding a second home in Charleston. They are welcome anytime.
Esten’s arsenal of songs run the gamut from sweet ballads to kickin’ up your boots dance hall lilts, but on an ideal weather night on the Isle of Palms he offered up mostly uptempo songs perfect for a Windjammer party where many danced on the deck, or shagged in the sand. Among his crowd favorites were ‘I Love You Beer’, ‘Hell To Pay’, ‘Whiskey Lips’, ‘One More Time’, and ‘Buckle Up’.
He got the crowd really worked up on it’s gonna be a ‘Hot One’ recalling his days before fame, when he and his buds vacationed on the outer banks where beer and girls helped pass the time. He waxed sentimental on his latest single ‘Sweet Summer Saturday Night’, a song he wrote during the pandemic, adding it felt like a Saturday night on the Isle of Palms.
Throwing in ‘Sloop John B’ by the Beach Boys early on seemed appropriate for a beach side concert, and one Esten said was a tribute to John B. Rutledge a character from ‘Outer Banks’. Near the end of his two hour show, he asked the audience if they were ready for some Springsteen, using the Boss’ 80’s hit ‘Pink Cadillac’ as a segue way into the Rolling Stones ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, as Esten pranced around in his best Jagger style, jumping down into the crowd to let them chime in on the chorus.
I feel certain many in the crowd who enjoy party rock n’ roll and contemporary country might be purchasing ‘He Ain’t Me’ over the weekend. Just another mid-tempo love song from an entertainer who has found that perfect love, and admits his life and career are on an upswing. So sad country radio doesn’t include several of Esten’s songs in their rotation, because he plays right into wheelhouse.
All said, Charles ‘Chip’ Esten put one hell of a show at The Windjammer Thursday night. The weather was awesome, and the crowd, many who haven’t seen a live show in over 18 months were appreciative. Esten shouted out let’s do this every year, which I’m sure The Windjammer would be glad to arrange. It might even be easier for Esten if he and his wife have their vacation home in greater Charleston.
If you enjoyed his music than I’ll make it easier to find his songs, just visit https://www.charlesesten.com/music
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