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Matt Stell & Chayce Beckham tickets at Wooly's in Des Moines
Fri Mar 31, 2023 - 7:00 PM

Presented By First Fleet Concerts

Matt Stell & Chayce Beckham

Halle Kearns
Wooly's, Des Moines, IA Ages: All Ages


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Presented By First Fleet Concerts

Presented By First Fleet Concerts

Matt Stell & Chayce Beckham

Halle Kearns
504 East Locust Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Fri Mar 31, 2023 - 7:00 PM
Ages: All Ages
Doors Open: 6:00 PM
Onsale: Tue Jan 24, 2023 - 10:00 AM

Bio: Matt Stell

Heck, he’s 6’7. 
But more so than the massive physique that helped Stell become a collegiate basketball standout, the Platinum certified singer has proven via the songs he sings and the shows he puts on that he is far too powerful of an artist to ever fit into some sort of singular category. In fact, to describe Stell in a few words would be a complete disservice to the man he is and the artist he looks to become as he releases his new EP Better Than That on October 16. 
“If you cut a groove too deep, it’s hard to get out of it,” he remarks with a chuckle. “I’ve never wanted to be some one-dimensional artist, and with this new EP, I think I’m determined to show that there is much more to me than just a guy who can sing a love song.” 
Indeed, the Arkansas native comes from a long line of self proclaimed badasses. He can spin a romantic verse as easy as he can rock out an anthem. He can overanalyze a word as easily as he can let the melody ride a lyrical wave. And yes, he gets as much enjoyment out of discovering a hook in the writing room as he does hooking a fish. 
“When you step out into that river and the salmon are still swimming upstream like they have for thousands of years, it’s a real cathartic, therapeutic thing for me,” he says of a recent fishing trip to Alaska. “It’s a great reset.” 
In everything he does, it’s evident that Stell is reflective and adventurous and funny and pretty damn smart. And if he’s being totally honest with himself, he’s never been one to love a love song. 
Yep, you heard that right. 
Granted, it was in fact a love song that catapulted Stell to country music success in 2019 via his massive hit “Prayed for You,” a life-changer of a song that spent two weeks at the number one spot. As the only debut single to top Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in 2019, and one of NSAI’s “10 Songs We Wish We’d Written,” the hit has gone on to rack up some impressive stats with over 270 million streams, his first RIAA Platinum certification and more than 20 million views of its official music video to date. 
But there’s a catch. 
“If the only thing you’ve heard is ‘Prayed for You,’ you would have a different idea of who I really am,” Stell explains. “Knowing that you are making music that means something to people is the ultimate compliment, but there is so much more to me.” 
A few more of the many facets of Stell are currently on display via his current top 10 and rising single “Everywhere But On,” a song that Stell calls ‘autobiographical’ in the way that it tells the story of a man trying to escape the memories of a long lost love. 
“Having two songs on the radio is an incredible thing, but what’s even more incredible is finding your own voice and your own identity,” he says. 
Stell showcased a whole bunch of identities in another Better Than That EP standout - “If I Was a Bar.” At a time when some of his fellow artists were perfectly content in simply sitting down with their guitar and playing their songs during the pandemic that Stell lovingly refers to as a ‘damn biological hurricane,’ Stell and his rather relentless work ethic turned out a music video that had him playing thirteen different roles in the span of a 3-plus minute song. 
“I threw every stitch of clothing I have ever owned into my truck for that video shoot,” laughs Stell of the somewhat restrictive project. “Sometimes creativity benefits from constraints.” 
Yet, there were few constraints on Stell’s songwriting during the creation of the new Better Than That EP, which was co-produced by Stell alongside Ash Bowers. Via songs co-written by Stell such as “I Love You Too,” “Chase It Down” and the title track “Better Than That,” the listener can still hear Stell’s distinctive way of wrapping a lyric around a memory and the twist he can put on a phrase. 
“Songwriting is a craft that can get better the more time you put into it,” remarks Stell, as he laments to himself about how much he hates clichés. 
But for the first time in his still evolving career, Stell relied on outside writers on three of the eight tracks of the Better Than That EP in an effort to fill in the blanks of the overall project. 
One of those cuts is “Sadie,” a melodic brain-buster of a song that offers ‘a sparse lyric but one in which every word means something.’ Another outside cut is “Look At Me Now,” perhaps one of the most earth-shattering love songs in recent memory. Yes, the guy who says love songs aren’t his thing just might make history with yet another love song. 
But before Stell looks too far into the future, he finds his soul planted deeply in the present. He is praying for the day he can plug his amp back in and jump on the bus with his band and play these new songs for a live crowd. 
This new chapter in his journey leaves Stell with a whole bunch more ammunition in the writing room and a unique vantage point to view the characters in his songs…and the character he might ultimately turn out to be.

Bio: Chayce Beckham

Some people learn things the hard way.
And a fortunate few, turn those hard-won lessons into songs.

That’s Chayce Beckham, a 25-year-old, reckless blue-collar troubadour who survived his own missteps long enough to be embraced by the entire country on “American Idol.”

People see themselves in Beckham. He is an authentic voice for a working-class generation. With honest, slice-of-life storytelling and a voice that cuts through like a chain saw, Beckham’s music serves as a reminder that it’s the simple things in life that matter most and not material things.

A year ago, he was living at home after losing everything, driving a forklift, and writing songs because music was a refuge. After winning the nineteenth season of “American Idol” in 2021, he is now composing with some of the best tunesmiths in Nashville and releasing his BBR Music Group debut EP Doin’ It Right.

With his backstory, the EP title seems slightly ironic, but it actually foresees where the triple-threat performer, vocalist, and songwriter is headed: The direction is emphatically up.

Making “American Idol” history, Beckham was the first contestant to ever win the competition show by performing an original song – his self-penned track “23.” A semi-autobiographical account of his struggles with alcohol and the lows it can take on a person, the track quickly shot to the top of both the iTunes Country and All Genre charts and numerous viral charts, racking up more than 75 million on-demand streams and growing.
His introduction to Country radio is “Can’t Do Without Me,” a supercharged duet with label-mate Lindsay Ell that is currently climbing the radio charts.
Beckham co-wrote four out of the six tracks on his debut, which was produced by Ross Copperman (Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban), along with Lindsay Rimes on the track “Doin’ It Right,” featuring traditional and muscular instrumentation with banjo, mandolin, and steel guitar throughout.

The first taste of new music from the EP is the smooth southern comfort cut “Tell Me Twice.” The title was inspired by Beckham’s mom, who had encouraged him for years to try out for “American Idol.” It was something they said to each other, and it made him think about all the things in life that you should just do and not think twice about.

Other cuts include the untethered “Where The River Goes” about chucking responsibility to go where the world can’t find you. An avid fisher himself, the song is a subtle nod to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ In The Dark.”

“That was the inspiration,” Beckham said. “It’s got a summertime, cornhole, going to the beach vibe. I listen to those playlists. I know the words to every song. I love honky tonk music, Hank Jr., George Jones, and Vern Gosdin. I lose my mind for that stuff, and it is a key component in all my music.”
With references to Joshua trees and tumble weeds, “Doin’ It Right” reflects life in the small desert towns – Apple Valley, Victorville, Hesperia – in the high desert of California where Beckham grew up with this sister and then single mom. The title track shares the secret of living life right, from “firefly sunsets” to falling in love with a blue-eyed girl. “I’ll Take The Bar” looks at avoidance after a break-up with a couple at odds dividing their town, their friends, and their future paths: “You take off and I’ll take the bar.”

Lush and sultry, “Talk To Me” is about a couple’s romantic night in with the rest of the world shut out. And “Love To Burn” is an energetic, upbeat love song about the rush and intoxication of falling in love and feeling untouchable.

“I love telling stories about life, where we come from, the whole thing, the good times and the bad times, especially the bad times,” Beckham quipped.

He hesitates to interpret his songs for anyone. “They should take the lyrics and apply them freely to any given situation and get out of them what fits into their life,” he said. “The message and lyrics may be completely different for them than it was for me. And that is for them to figure out.”

With Beckham’s “raspy, blues-rock voice” (Wide Open Country) front and center, the catchy, easy-listening EP boasts an intentional ‘90s country vibe.

Katy Perry said he sounds “like the hearts of America.” But Beckham doesn’t think of himself as a great singer; he prefers telling a great story. “I’m not good at anything else,” he claimed.

He started playing guitar at three. And like many of the life-altering events in his life, it started with a fall.

Split custody meant weekdays at his maternal grandparents’ 10-acre farm and weekends in LA with his dad and Latina grandmother from Durango, Mexico. She had a car but refused to drive. On one of their daily walks around Southgate LA, the pre-schooler tripped and hit the pavement. They were in front of a music store and to distract him from his bloody knees she took him inside.

Beckham has a clear memory of the clerk telling him, “I’ve got a guitar for you. Your grandma’s going to buy one of the nicest guitars for you, but you have to be good.”

From the start, Beckham was obsessed. Someone taught him a few chords. By first grade he had taken a couple guitar lessons. But Beckham learned more by mimicking records he heard on country radio than following rigid instruction. He listened to bluegrass, and ‘80s and ‘90s country George Jones and Clint Black, Don William and Brad Paisley. Later he found Van Halen and AC/DC.

After high school, he started a band and he started singing, “not because I thought I was good, but because no one else wanted to.” Building a fanbase, his band started organizing multi-band festivals in the backyard of their rented house in the foothills of Glendora for up to 300 people.

Known as the Sinking Sailors, the music was more Nine Mile than Music City. Beckham would close his eyes and sing at the top of his voice just to be heard over the din.

Doors’ front man Jim Morrison was his idol and Beckham was living a fast lifestyle that eventually came crashing down. A potentially fatal car wreck changed everything. Witnesses left him in the crushed vehicle because they assumed he was already dead. He lost everything and moved home broke and humbled.

“Sometimes it’s good to fall, because it gives you something to get back up from,” said Beckham.”

Emotionally bruised, Beckham found comfort in Country music. “Country music healed my wounds and put its arms around me,” he said with genuine candor. “Sometimes you have to lose yourself a little to find yourself. I went back to my roots.”

When he finally took his mother’s advice and agreed to try out for “American Idol,” he didn’t have money for a decent guitar, but his family and friends came through with $1,700 in donations, enough to buy the Takamine guitar he played on the show. Giving memorable, powerhouse performances night after night of songs such as Chris Stapleton’s “You Should Probably Leave” and Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather,” Beckham knew Country music was his future. He also now has an endorsement deal with that guitar maker.

It’s been an incredible journey and far from over. Beckham is currently on tour with Jimmie Allen and headlining his own shows across the country. He joins Luke Combs on the road this fall.

“This is the right time in my life,” Beckham said. “I know I can handle success and I know I can handle what life is going to throw at me. There is no way I could have handled this stuff before. I’ve stopped questioning the chain of events that got me here. Now, I just let it happen.”

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