Country singer Chase Rice facing backlash for performing packed concert

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Country music stars are taking to social media to call out fellow country singer Chase Rice after he performed before a packed crowd in East Tennessee last weekend.

Rice performed Saturday at the former Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary where the maximum capacity was lowered from 10,000 to 4,000 for its Live at Brushy series.

Videos shared on social media show the crowd shoulder-to-shoulder with no signs of social distancing or masks.

Kelsea Ballerini tweeted, “Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people’s health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect, and play a NORMAL country concert right now. @ChaseRiceMusic, We all want (and need) to tour. We just care about our fans and their families enough to wait. 🤷🏼‍♀️”

Rice posted a video on his Instagram story with the words “We back” along with a smiley face wearing sunglasses emoji.

Americana star Jason Isbell also indirectly piled on, saying some country artists were “so broke” they played concerts over the weekend “regardless of what might happen to their non-isolated, maskless audience!” Country singer Mickey Guyton said video of the crowd at Rice’s concert made her sick to her stomach.

Bobby Bones weighed in after speaking with two attorneys and said “there could be heavy liability here.”

The historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary opened as a visitors attraction in July of 2018 and features a museum, distillery and restaurant.

Brushy Mountain released a statement to ABC News, which reads in part:

“We are reevaluating the series from the top to bottom following the inaugural show on June 27 — from implementing further safety measures, to adding stanchions, to converting the space to drive-in style concerts, to postponing shows,” said Brian May, who co-owns the former Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, where the concert was held.

May said the venue has a normal capacity of 10,000, but only 954 tickets were sold in advance and state guidelines allowed for 50% capacity in an outdoor venue. May also said they asked all guests to wear masks and had signs encouraging social distance.

Country singer Chris Janson also played an outdoor music festival in Filer, Idaho, where the governor decided to keep the state at stage 4 of reopening due to a recent surge in infections.

Sawyer Brown is scheduled to perform next at the former prison on Saturday, July 18.

Tennessee reported its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases on Friday.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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