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Chris Young savoring return to Chicago

Chris Young plays sold-out show Joe’s Bar Jan. 23. | RANDEE ST. NICHOLAS PHOTO

Chris Young plays a sold-out show at Joe’s Bar on Jan. 23. | RANDEE ST. NICHOLAS PHOTO

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♦ 8 p.m. Jan. 23

♦ Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed


♦ Visit

Updated: January 16, 2013 5:56PM

Yes, your eyes weren’t fooling you, country music fans. That was indeed the award-winning and chart-topping Chris Young, standing out on the corner of Clark and Addison last summer, taking pictures of a sign he never dreamed he would actually see.

“I still have photos on my tour bus of the Wrigley Field sign flashing my name,” recalls Young, who played the iconic ballpark alongside the likes of Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry and Jerrod Niemann in June. “Of course, it was tricky to take the picture at the exact time it flashed my name and the words ‘sold out’ underneath. [Laughs]”

But with a new year comes another sell-out for the country artist.

With tickets to his Jan. 23 show at Joe’s Bar selling out in just 20 minutes, Young says he certainly continues to feel the love from Chi-Town.

“Chicago has been amazing to us,” says Young during a recent interview. “This year for the first time, I didn’t play on New Year’s, so Joe’s [Bar] is essentially the first thing I have done in 2013. It’s killing me that I haven’t played anywhere yet. I’m going to be wired all night.”

Indeed, returning to the Joe’s stage still remains quite the accomplishment for Young, who remembers a time when a packed venue was far from a given.

“Joe’s Bar is one of those places, as a country artist, you always want to get back to,” says Young, who received his first Grammy nomination in 2011. “It’s one of the best club venues in the country in my opinion. But I remember the days when I would find myself just hoping we had a couple hundred people in there.”

These days, the 27-year-old finds himself on a streak of five consecutive No. 1 singles on country radio, and the headliner of his own Liquid Neon Tour. His new single, “I Can Take it From There,” off his highly acclaimed third album “Neon,” is also moving up the charts “really fast,” he says.

“Yep, I’m one of those people who always find myself logging onto Billboard to check out the charts,” says Young, who will soon make a guest appearance on ABC’s hit drama “Nashville.” “I know not to look at those charts and that it’s going to change every day, but it’s kind of an addiction.”

Another one of Young’s current addictions?

“I’m on Twitter all of the time,” he admits. “Over the holidays I didn’t tweet much, and people were actually wondering where I went. Sometimes I find myself tweeting 8 or 9 things in a row and I start wondering if I’m starting to annoy people.”

Chances are slim that his 167,700-plus Twitter followers are getting annoyed anytime soon. Besides hinting at an upcoming announcement regarding his involvement in a “big summer tour,” Young also confirmed that 2013 will bring new music to his loyal legion of fans.

“The new record is a little more progressive than anything I have done before,” says Young, who co-wrote seven of the 10 tracks on “Neon” including the No. 1 singles “Tomorrow” and “You.”

“[This record] is still going to sound like me. I’m still writing most of the songs and picking out the ones I don’t. It’s certainly not going to be so different that it alienates any of my fans, but it’s not going to sound exactly like the last record either. At the moment, I have 40 or 50 pieces of paper in my guitar case with lyrics scribbled on them. You never know which lines will actually find a home.”

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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