Sugarland’s Kristian Bush plays first orchestra show with Gulf Coast Symphony in Fort Myers

September 19, 2019

https://www.news-press.com/story/entertainment/2019/09/19/sugarlands-kristian-bush-performs-fort-myers-gulf-coast-symphony/2300539001/

Sugarland’s Kristian Bush plays first orchestra show with Gulf Coast Symphony in Fort Myers

Charles Runnells, Fort Myers News-Press Published 11:00 a.m. ET Sept. 19, 2019 

Kristian Bush has done a lot of things. He’s racked up huge country-music hits, both solo and with the duo Sugarland. He’s won Grammy, BMI and CMA awards. He’s even written a stage musical.

But one thing the singer-songwriter hasn’t done? Play a big show with an orchestra.

That’s why he’s excited about Sunday’s Fort Myers concert with Gulf Coast Symphony

“I’m really curious to see where this is all gonna go!” he says and laughs.

The landmark concert is part of the 10-day Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, an annual event with musical acts performing all over Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Captiva Island. This year’s other shows include country-music stars Rodney Atkins, Jerrod Niemann and the sold-out Gone West.

Bush says he’s eager to return to Island Hopper. He’s played it twice before, including the inaugural fest in 2014.

More: Kristian Bush headlines Island Hopper Fest in 2015

“I’m very proud that the Island Hopper festival’s become what it has,” he says. “I’m so glad to be returning and being a part of the fabric that is that festival. I love it.”

Kristian Bush performs during the SIP Hope 4 Hope Town Hurricane Dorian Relief Concert at the Ryman Auditorium Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 in Nashville, Tenn.  (Photo: George Walker IV / The Tennessean)

To prepare for Sunday’s concert at Florida Repertory Theatre, Bush says he’s been rehearsing at home in Nashville along with a computerized version of the score put together by his brother, composer/producer Brandon Bush. That’s given him a good idea of what the Fort Myers show will sound like.

And he’s happy to report: It sounds good.

“It’s really been kind of mind-blowing,” Bush says. “Like all the hair on my arms are standing up.

“I’m having to almost learn my songs again, to perform them in such a zen-centered way, so I’m not distracted by how AWESOME it is.”

There’s just something special about what an orchestra does to your songs, he says. Add strings, woodwinds and other instruments, and those songs suddenly become bigger.

“It changes the weight of each thing that you’re sayin’ and each melody that you’re playin’,” Bush says. “They suddenly feel like — instead of being a mural on a side of a building, suddenly it feels like somebody’s spent years carving marble.

“And your song is now this marble statue. Whereas before, it was just, you know, spray paint on the side of a train.”

Andrew Kurtz, music director of Gulf Coast Symphony, says he’s also excited about playing Sunday’s show. It’s the community orchestra’s first-ever country concert.

The night’s setlist includes solo hits such as “Trailer Hitch,” “Southern Gravity” and “Bar With A Pool In It,” along with songs from Bush’s theater musical “Troubadour” and his Grateful Dead-inspired band Dark Water. Plus, of course, a handful of Sugarland hits, including “Mother,” “Stuck Like Glue”  and “All I Want to Do.”

Bush and his brother chose the songs, Kurtz says. “Adding the symphonic element expands the overall musical landscape, allowing for broader textures and richer colors and variety of sounds. I love that they have really focused on bringing in the orchestra colors to Kristian’s music.”

More: Knoxville’s Kristian Bush talks forming new band, releasing more Sugarland music

Bush says they tried to steer clear of songs with too much of a rock rhythm. They didn’t sound quite as good with orchestral accompaniment.

But others — such as his new song “Tennessee Plates” or Dark Water songs “Ruth” and “Goliath”— sound downright terrific. So does Sugarland’s tribute to moms everywhere, the heartstring-pulling “Mother.”

“It’s beautiful!” Bush says. “It lifts it in a way that you wouldn’t think.”

Like many other country songs, he says, “Mother” is a song about small moments. “But if you really let ‘em wash across you, you realize that the small moments in your life are the things that have the biggest impact. And until somebody put an orchestra underneath it, you weren’t reminded that that’s real. And it’s really an amazing thing to have somebody point that out.”

That’s why Bush loves the idea of playing with an orchestra.

“A performance with an orchestra changes the way you see the smallest, simplest things,” he says. “And it makes them grand.”

Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)

What: Kristian Bush and Gulf Coast Symphony

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Florida Repertory Theatre, 2267 Bay St., downtown Fort Myers

Tickets: $30

Info: To learn more about this and other Island Hopper shows,visit island-hopper.fortmyers-sanibel.com or check out the festival’s mobile apps.

Our Sponsors