This past weekend, Show Dog -- Universal recording artist Joel Crouse got to experience a homecoming of sorts -- on a very large scale. The native of Holland, Massachusetts got to play one of the biggest stages in the northeast as the opening act for Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. He concluded his run on the tour this past weekend at the home of the Patriots, and he couldn't have been more excited.
"Two nights at Gillette, and both were sold out," he exclaimed to Billboard. "It was amazing. I had been looking forward to those dates the entire tour."
Crouse says his experience on the Swift tour has been one he'll never forget. "It's incredible watching her capture an audience. She doesn't just connect with the people that are in front of her, but also with the people at the very top. Usually, at a show like that, you'll see people at the top sitting down watching the show. But, they are still all on their feet, standing and screaming," he says with equal parts awe and respect.
There's a lot of lessons that an opening act can take from Swift, Crouse says. "She really does take care of her opening acts, as well as the people that work with her. It's incredible to see someone like her who has the fame she has, but she's also just a real person that you can just talk to."
Music was a huge part of Crouse's life since the beginning, but there was one format that was special. "I always listened to country music," he recalled. "My dad was a pastor, and we were only allowed to listen to Christian and country music for the longest time -- which always struck me as a little odd, given some country tunes. But, my grandfather was from Mobile, AL, and he introduced me to a lot of country music. He was really big on the outlaws. He gave me some Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Merle Haggard records not too long ago."
Crouse moved to Nashville when he was seventeen, and started honing his craft in the clubs. His singing and writing talents gained him the attention of Show Dog -- Universal, where he released his debut single, "If You Want Some," this past winter. The song has made it all the way to the top 40 on the Country Airplay chart. He says that he doesn't spend a lot of time watching the charts, preferring to enjoy the moment.
"I don't really pay attention to it, because I think a lot of that stuff will drive you crazy sometimes," he confesses. "I try to keep things positive, so it's always cool to be surprised. I'm totally blessed to have things where they are right now."
It looks like the good times are set to continue. Though his run on the Swift tour has ended, he's about to join up with another major superstar act on the road. "We're going to be doing a lot of festivals and radio dates to finish out the fall, and working a lot with the Band Perry very soon!"
Crouse says he has completed work on his debut album, which is scheduled for early 2014. He humorously said that he plans on getting a copy at the store the morning of release -- one way or another. "I've always wanted to steal my own CD out of a Best Buy or Walmart," he jokes. "I'm going to try it, and see what they actually would say. What are they gonna do? Partly, it's theirs, but partly, it's mine. I feel like it's ok!"