Justin Payne tour coming to Be Here Now

Reagan Allen, DN File
Reagan Allen, DN File

After his mother-in-law died earlier this year, singer and songwriter Justin Payne found rekindled inspiration to finish and record his newest album "High Water." He will perform songs from the album on his Golden Indy Turnpike Tour of the East Coast, which is coming to Be Here Now Oct. 30. 

“My mother-in-law and I had a very loving relationship, and I had been helping her clean out her barn for the past two summers. When she passed and we had to officially get everything moved, I fell in love with the hayloft,” Payne said. “As an empty space, it had immaculate wooden structure and perfect acoustics. I began to play simple tunes and mess around with lyrics I had started. Eventually, I brought my band and other underground solo artists to the space, and my new album was born. It was organic and natural.”

Payne’s interest in music started at a young age when he would sing along to the large country record collection his grandparents owned. From there, he learned to play the violin, which led him to try to any instrument with strings. 

In his professional career as a musician, Payne has toured twice before his current tour, both of which also visited Be Here Now. 

This, however, will be the first visit to Be Here Now for Zach Wilson, who is performing with Payne.

Wilson also took an interest to music at a young age from watching his brother play drums. At age 8, he took acoustic guitar lessons. Wilson can now play both acoustic and electric guitar. 

While Wilson has always been writing music, he never had the opportunity to hit the road until Payne invited him. 

“I’ve played around a lot with different lyrics and music styles, but it wasn’t until recently that I recorded my first album, 'Sin Scenery,'” Wilson said. “I have always wanted to go on tour with my music, but I have never really known where to start, so I was thankful when Justin approached me.”

The two musicians met in Bowling Green, Ohio, where Wilson played bass for Payne’s album. They began talking more and building off of each other for inspiration, coming up with ideas that led to their new collaboration. 

When they first set out on their tour, they originally planned to play two different sets, but as they traveled, it seemed to work better for them to play together. They did not need a break in between, and this would allow them both to play a role and harmonize during the each other’s songs. 

“I have never taken someone else on tour with me, but we have really balanced each other out and it has been great,” Payne said. “I have been in the music business traveling longer than he has, so I like to think that I have a seasoned understanding of the ups and downs in different situations, but because of that, I have lost my whimsical goals. He [Wilson] still has his youthful ambition. He wants to shoot for the moon, and I love that. We are teaching each other along the way.”

Because the business aspect of touring and recording takes so much time and effort, Payne has already begun scheduling for 2018. He hopes to do a small tour of states close to home during the winter and a larger tour of the West Coast during the spring. 

Payne said his weakest link is finding and building the connections and relationships he needs to expand his audience, so he is constantly sending out promos to colleges and venues. 

“The secretary work behind the job can be grueling, so you really have to start six months in advance,” Payne said. “By the time you cross the county line and you’re going somewhere, your ideas and plans will have been on paper for half a year. But when you can say it is finally happening, there is no better feeling in the world.”

Their tour began on Sept. 28 and, so far, the artists have played in several cities in Ohio and New York.

For Payne, this tour allows him to check off places and events from his bucket list that he wanted to go to, including Niagara Falls and New York City. 

“Touring is a lot of car sleeping and McDonald’s, but you have to put yourself out there, and sometimes you will get ‘breaks,’” Payne said. “One night we got free buffet in a casino in New York, and we played like we were tourists. It was a huge ‘win,’ but you have to learn to take the hardships because you don’t always have the wins.”

Neal Soley, operations specialist at Be Here Now, said Be Here Now is excited to host Payne again because of the crowd’s past responses to his music. He said he predicts an even bigger turnout for this performance since Payne is not touring alone. 

Usually labeled as Folk Rock or Americana, said Payne, both artists portray their triumphs and struggles of Mid-West restlessness through their music and are looking forward to their performance at 8 p.m. Oct. 30 at Be Here Now. 

“We are both very soulful artists, and our energy really goes back and forth between us and the audience, and I think they like that,” Payne said. “The fact that one guy with a good song can move them, and I think that’s the fundamentals of why music is so important. Touching someone in someway is the whole goal, even if they don’t like it.”

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu. 


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