By Billy Liggett
A quick side story first, if you will.
In 2003, I was an editor for a small newspaper in Opelousas, Louisiana. That year, a budding young artist from nearby Carencro released his first major album (named afte his hometown), and thanks to hits “Home” and “Where You Are,” was launched into stardom almost instantly.
I see a lot of Marc Broussard in Britton Buchanan. The soulful style. The passion for songwriting. The appreciation for their hometown in their music. Their humbleness.
The second of Britton’s four-night string of soldout shows at Temple Theatre — like the first — was a two-hour “thank you” to Sanford, a town that helped carry the 18-year-old artist to runner-up status on NBC’s hit reality show “The Voice” this spring. Fresh off a trip to New York where Britton not only met his hero, Bruce Springsteen, but shared a five-minute chat about music and his “Voice” experience, Britton commanded the stage like a seasoned pro Friday night.
Armed only with an acoustic guitar and (for one song) a keyboard, Britton mixed the covers he performed on TV in front of millions with about 10 originals that will probably appear on his first album, which he’ll start recording in July. While the covers — “Good Lovin’,” “The Rising,” “Trouble,” “Thinking Out Loud,” “New York State of Mind” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” among them — were familiar and well received, it was Britton’s own songs (many of which were preceded by a quick story) that carried the night.
In particular, songs (and I’m not sure if these are the actual titles) “Maria,” “Faded Yellow Sundress” and some Van Morrison-inspired song I’ll call “Last Chance” stood out as songs you could see hitting airwaves one day. His encore opener (after joking with the crowd that it would be sad if he re-emerged to an empty theater) was “Where You Come From,” the original he performed on “The Voice” finale that debuted at No. 1 on iTunes last month.
If the concert(s) prove anything, it’s that Britton is ready for whatever comes next. In a serious moment, he talked about how these Temple shows are the first time his audience has actually paid attention to him after nearly a decade of being the “background music” in bars, clubs and various events. When he wasn’t playing, Britton held the audience’s attention with self-depricating humor and interesting stories.
His opener Friday night was Jackie Verna, a fellow Top 12 finalist on the show this year. Verna looks ready for the next step as well, impressing the crowd with covers of “Joleen” and “I Hate Love Songs,” as well as her own original, “Forever Soulmate.” She rejoine Britton on stage later in his set for a duet of “Strawberry Wine.”
The two have two more performances, tonight and Sunday, before both head off to officially begin their music careers.
Going back to Broussard, I’ve seen him perform three times in my life — once at a festival, once in a small club and most recently in Durham. It’s an honest compliment to share how much Britton reminds me of his work. If he has even a fraction of that kind of success, the young man is in for a wild ride.