by John Downey '23 on September 18, 2022
Arts & Entertainment
Chance Emerson is no stranger to success.
The self-proclaimed “half-Asian singing cowboy” has gone from playing packed events at his alma mater, Brown University, to playing shows all around the country. Backed by an all-star band, Emerson has toured some remarkable venues and has played with a shocking array of talent.
Prior to the pandemic, Emerson was starting to make waves, playing at packed college parties with his band, The Clementines. In addition, he made appearances at prestigious events such as the Newport Folk Festival. The music he released was also well received. Even his early works, such as his 2017 EP The Indigo Tapes, were putting up numbers on Spotify.
In March 2020, right before everything shut down, Emerson released an album called The Raspberry Men. An intoxicating blend of indie, pop, and folk, the album received praise up and down the board, including a review in the Providence Journal. The lead single from the album, “How Can I,” even surpassed one million streams on Spotify.
During the pandemic, Emerson kept busy back home in Taiwan, writing and releasing music, as well as filming a video for the song “Gloria Gracie.” Once things began to reopen, Emerson was more than ready to get back into the swing of things. Reunited with his band, he accomplished the very impressive feat of selling out The Met in Pawtucket, RI, a 650-person capacity venue. This fully established the return of the legend from Brown University.
After this point, Emerson and co. began making moves outward. Playing on a number of college campuses, they built their fanbase exponentially due to their lively mix of originals and covers, as well as the synergy between the musicians. Emerson also played some high-profile shows in New York, including selling out the famous Chelsea Music Hall. From there, he traveled down to Tennessee and played some shows in Nashville, which is no small accomplishment. After that, he got an even bigger opportunity: opening for Mike Campbell of Tom Petty fame as well as Nancy Wilson of Heart– a dream come true for many musicians.
Coming up, Emerson has a tour set up with none other than Blues Traveler. With these 90s stars, he will play shows in Connecticut, Virginia, and Ohio. Touring is another dream for many musicians, especially with such an established act.
The question is, how does Emerson do it? One answer is that he has help from a manager: none other than Providence College alum Will Best ’20. Local booking agency Small Victories has also helped Emerson pack his Rhode Island shows, with the two parties helping each other bring people to the shows. Another reason for Emerson’s success is how tight his band is. The four to five musicians on stage all sound very well-rehearsed, and each plays their part to make the experience the best possible. While each musician is very talented, there is not a lot of flashiness in Emerson’s performances, which helps endear them to audiences. The third answer also endears Emerson and his band to the audience, and that is his good nature. Emerson’s songs are honest yet positive; at the very least, they are not self-deprecating. This is truly rare in today’s music, which is often very depressing. Because of this, the wistful lyrics, the buoyant instrumentation, and Emerson’s down to Earth persona draw people to him and his music. It is a winning combo that has proven valuable time and time again.
To check out Chance Emerson’s music and tour schedule, follow @chance.s.emerson on Instagram.