NEPA Scene Staff

Country stars Mitchell Tenpenny and Jordan Davis perform live at Circle Drive-In in Dickson City on Oct. 18

Country stars Mitchell Tenpenny and Jordan Davis perform live at Circle Drive-In in Dickson City on Oct. 18
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From a press release:

It was announced today that pop country stars Mitchell Tenpenny and Jordan Davis will perform live at the Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City on Sunday, Oct. 18.

Presented locally by Stage West in Scranton and SLP Concerts, Tenpenny and Davis have both released new music this year and only have a few in-person shows planned for the rest of 2020.

Gates at the Circle Drive-In (1911 Scranton/Carbondale Hwy., Dickson City) open at 6 p.m., and the all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, which are $159.50 per vehicle for general admission (up to four guests max) and $199.50 per vehicle for Gold Circle parking close to the stage (up to four guests max), go on sale to the general public this Saturday, Sept. 19 at 10 a.m. on ticketmaster.com, but fans can use the pre-sale code “MJ2020” to purchase tickets early on Friday, Sept. 18 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

No campers, RVs, party buses, or motorcycles are admitted. Sealed water bottles are allowed. Food and beverages (alcohol included) will be available for purchase. Sitting outside your vehicle is permitted, but all attendees must arrive together and remain near their car. For more details, visit the Facebook event page.

The Circle Drive-In is following Department of Health recommendations and “adhering to safety protocols, mandatory face covering requirements, social distancing, and strict disinfecting and cleaning procedures.” Restrooms will be open with attendants on-site.

Anyone attending a drive-in movie or event must wear a face covering and practice social distancing. The concession stand will have limited selections and has put extra safety procedures in place.

“I wanted to tell a bunch of different stories on this album, but they all had to be authentic and believable to me,” Mitchell Tenpenny said. “What I was feeling at the time, where I was in my head, what’s going on in the world, it all contributed to the end product. The songs that made it were the ones I was sure that I was passionate about getting on there – what I was proud of, what I really wanted to say.”

On the heels of his RIAA-certified gold single “Drunk Me,” Tenpenny released his major label debut album, “Telling All My Secrets,” on Dec. 14, 2018. Revealing a wide range of influences and a level of assurance and confidence that comes from already having years of songwriting and touring behind him, the record marked the arrival of an artist singled out by Billboard as a pick to “break out” by the end of 2018 and as one of Pandora’s “Artists to Watch” in 2019.

Of course, these predictions aren’t all that bold, since Tenpenny’s first single and No. 1 hit “Drunk Me” has earned more than 120 million on-demand streams and surpassed 500,000 certifiable units in the U.S. The New York Times named it one of the best songs of 2018, and the singer claims that he knew the song was special as soon as he recorded it.

“Everything about it – the production, the hook, the performance – it felt like how I wanted to present myself,” he said. “We dug into that song and made it real cinematic and unusual. On the first playback, it felt like something Whitney Houston might do, and I thought, ‘This is what we need to be doing, this feels right,’ and it became the foundation of the record.”

Not that you can ever anticipate the kind of explosive success that “Drunk Me” has had. “You never know what’s going to happen,” Tenpenny admitted, “but I was confident enough to be OK with it if it failed. I knew I gave it my best, gave it my all. That’s something I learned playing football; my coach used to say that you can’t be afraid to lose. So, with this song, I could go in fearless.”

That sense of clarity is largely a result of the relationship that the Nashville native had with his grandmother, industry veteran and the first female CEO of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Donna Hilley.

“I was very lucky,” he said. “I got to grow up in this business, see it; I saw how my grandmother treated writers, and how important it was to the town. It’s a small circle of friends in this industry, and she always treated people right.” (This attitude also presumably helped Tenpenny in the album’s collaborations with such stellar songwriters as Hillary Lindsey, Devin Dawson, and Josh Hoge.)

Tenpenny first picked up a guitar at the age of 13, and after graduating with a music business degree from Middle Tennessee State University, he began his professional career. His 2015 album “Black Crow” featured cameos from the SteelDrivers, Ace Frehley, and Brian “Head” Welch from Korn. In 2017, his “Linden Ave” EP made it to No. 6 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Concurrently, he was seeing success as a songwriter, most notably co-writing Granger Smith’s Top 10 hit “If the Boot Fits.” Along the way, he has toured with the likes of Maren Morris, Jake Owen, Brett Young, Cole Swindell, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Dustin Lynch.

Though most of the album was written since the completion of the “Mitchell Tenpenny” EP, a few of the songs go further back. “I wrote ‘Goner’ a long time ago,” he recalled. “That’s one of my favorites ever. I gave it my best John Mayer/Michael Jackson impression – not that I ever thought, ‘I want to sound like that,’ but I can hear my own experiences in there with a combination of the music I’ve grown up with.”

Tenpenny embraces the idea that he’s part of a new generation of country artists who grew up listening to a diverse range of styles. “I never gave much thought about which genre I am,” he says. “You can hear rock, pop, gospel, but the lyrics always stay true to what I am, to Nashville. It would be inauthentic for me to try to be Hank or Waylon or Willie – I want to transform and keep creating, I want to hear new, exciting things. We have to be able to change sounds or we’re going nowhere.”

The album’s final song, “Walk Like Him,” is the most personal track for Tenpenny. “It’s the first song I wrote about my dad after his passing, and it took a few years,” he explained. “My family all say that I really do walk like him. I remember I was driving back from a show in the van, the band was all asleep in the back, and it just hit me and I broke down – I wrote that hook that night. I’ve been wanting to get it off my chest for years, and I wanted the album to end on that emotion. I think anyone who has lost someone can understand the feeling.”

The official line has been that Mitchell Tenpenny wrote 56 songs for the album that became “Telling All My Secrets,” his Riser House/Columbia Nashville debut, but he admits that it was really several hundred and that he can feel the growth in his work as he gains more experience.

“My writing is getting more mature, more honest,” he said. “When you’re younger, you’re afraid to sing a lot of things, but as you get older, that wall starts to fall down. I’m talking about things that people my age are dealing with on a daily basis, and the best thing is to have that vulnerability.

“I’ve seen more, traveled more, and you see the world and learn what people want. As you get older, you get a little wiser – I’m not saying that I’m wise, but I’m learning every day, and that comes out in the songs.”

It was a dream of becoming a songwriter that first brought Shreveport, Louisiana native Jordan Davis to Nashville in 2012. A lot has changed for 2020 ACM Best New Male Artist of the Year nominee since moving to Music City. From signing a record deal with MCA Nashville and racking up over one billion streams of his 2018 debut album “Home State” to touring the country playing for fans and notching three consecutive No. 1s with platinum-certified “Singles You Up,” “Take It from Me,” and “Slow Dance in a Parking Lot,” one thing has remained constant for the breakthrough hitmaker – his love for the craft of songwriting. That passion continues to drive his latest project, a self-titled EP released on May 22.

“We closed ‘Home State’ with ‘Leaving New Orleans’ and it was one I almost didn’t record; I got too caught up in the lyrics and worried if you were not from New Orleans you wouldn’t be into the song. But at shows across the country, people would sing the chorus back to us. The location didn’t matter to them; it was the meaning behind the lyrics that struck a chord. I wanted to lean into that and create more songs like it for this project.”

Davis toes that rare line between commercial viability and intricate songwriting. A paradox of reflective and feel-good, he proves the two are not mutually exclusive with his new EP. Teaming once again with “Home State” producer Paul DiGiovanni, Davis delivers the catchy hooks and sing-a-longs that have become his signature, with tracks like “Ruin My Weekend” and “Almost Maybes” written with songwriting heavy weights Jesse Frasure and Hillary Lindsey, while going deeper with the personal “Detours” and spiritual “Church in a Chevy.” It’s an artistic dichotomy Davis has been aware of since he started listening to music as a kid.

“When I was little I never got to be in charge of the music on a family road trip,” Davis noted. “My go-to guys were John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, Don Williams – that’s who I grew up loving but that wasn’t necessarily getting the party started, you know? Then when I went to college, I got really into Usher, John Mayer, and Maroon 5. Still love ‘em!”

From Prine to pop, you can hear both musical influences bubbling under the surface of Davis’s work, a constant creative tug-of-war where there are no losers, just a growing fan base anxious for new music and an artist ready to give it to them.

“‘Home State’ is over two years old; I was ready to get new music out,” Davis continued. “I wanted to create a bridge between the two albums, a nod to where we’ve been and a preview of where we are going.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis has relished his extra time at home with wife Kristen and daughter Eloise. Constantly writing new music, he is hard at work on his next album, and it’s life’s changes, both personally and professionally, that continue to inspire Davis’s writing.

“Touring the country and sharing ‘Home State’ with the fans these last couple years, I’ve realized we all have a lot more in common than we think,” Davis reflected.

“It inspires me to be more honest when I’m writing because if I’m going through something, chances are so is someone else. Every time I step in that writer’s room it is an opportunity – an opportunity to create something that resonates, that lasts, and that hopefully makes a difference.”