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Tate Stevens proving he has staying power

Tate Stevens headlines Joe’s Bar Saturday night. | PHOTO BY JEFF LIPSKY

Tate Stevens headlines Joe’s Bar on Saturday night. | PHOTO BY JEFF LIPSKY

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♦ 8:30 p.m. May 18

♦ Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed

♦ Tickets, $15

♦ (312) -337-3486

Updated: May 20, 2013 7:54PM

It’s been more than five months since up-and-coming country crooner Tate Stevens heard his name announced as the winner of season two of FOX’s “The X Factor.”

From sharing the stage with country music icons such as Alan Jackson to recording his first self-titled album with a handful of his country music heroes, 38-year-old Stevens has been living a reality show champ’s whirlwind. Heck, he even had a 160-foot-tall water tower named after him in his hometown of Belton, Missouri.

Yet, on the day Stevens found out his debut album had found its way toward the top of the Billboard Top Country album chart in April, he admits to taking a much-deserved deep breath.

“I don’t like listening to numbers or how much it sold because I’m just not that guy, but yes, it was awesome,” chuckles Stevens, who will make a stop at Chicago’s Joe’s Bar on May 18. “I just want people to get the album and love it. Hopefully we will continue to grow and keep selling records and keep the single moving up the charts.”

And while his use of the word “hopeful” doesn’t sound very convincing, it’s understandable: This ain’t Stevens’ first rodeo. Before “The X Factor,” Stevens had already gambled on the idea of a country music career earlier in his life. And while he gained some Midwest success with various bands, Stevens ultimately turned in his music dreams for a job as a road worker for the city of Belton.

From the sounds of his album, Stevens might just be able to put that blue-collar life behind him for good. Make no mistake — it’s this blue-collar mentality that has made him so appealing to his fandom known affectionately as Tate Nation. Combine that with his powerful punch of baritone that shines through on the 11-track album, and Stevens just might be here for the long run. Co-writing three of the tracks, Stevens says the undeniable strength of his current single “Power of a Love Song” struck a chord with him from the very start.

“(Big and Rich’s) John Rich sent it to me and basically told me he thought I could sing the fire out of the song,” recalls Stevens, who started playing the drums at age four. “I love those big ballads that I can really let it rip on. I always have. Love songs can make you laugh as much as they can make you cry. They bring the memories back. All I have to do is hear a song like Joe Diffie’s ‘You Made Me Who I Am’ and I start crying like a baby. There is nothing like the emotion behind a big song.”

These days, Stevens is determined to showcase the many sides of his personality during his live show. “Every venue seems to respond to different songs,” he says. “We have a cut on the new album called ‘Ordinary Angels’ that I hope will be released as a single somewhere down the road. Other people can’t get enough of ‘El Camino’ or “That’s Where We Live’.”

And while Stevens is determined not to look too far down the road, he is thrilled to be able to go out on tour and thank the people who got him here in the first place. “They allowed me to do what I love doing, so yes, I want to thank each and every one of them in person,” says Stevens, who recently visited Chicago with his family over spring break. “I love getting back to Chicago and the Midwest in general. It’s middle America, and it’s where country music thrives. It’s always fun to play where the people love country music and support it.”

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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