For Tulsa, whenever Ben Rector comes to town, it's a chance to celebrate. Although he has relocated to Nashville since graduating from the University of Arkansas, any time he returns to Tulsa, it's a homecoming show for the Tulsa native.
A self-titled EP that Rector released during his freshman year of college not only launched his solo career, but also won the grand prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2006 for the song "Conversation." His first full-length album, Twenty Tomorrow, followed by Songs that Duke Wrote, were released in 2008 and 2009, respectively, as Rector played roughly 200 shows during his college career. It was no surprise to his fans, then, when he decided to move to Nashville to pursue songwriting and continue his recording career.
The 2010 release of Into the Morning saw Rector peak at number five on the iTunes pop chart, 10 on the overall iTunes chart, and 11 on the Billboard Heatseeker's chart. National tours with the likes of Dave Barnes, Five for Fighting and Matt Wertz helped Rector carve out his niche as he prepared for his next move.
By the time Rector released Something Like This in September 2011, he was developing his own signature sound and was ready to break into a larger market. After a brief fall tour, Rector served as direct support for Need to Breathe's Reckoning Tour, which brought him to the Brady Theater stage in March 2012.
On that tour, Rector not only won over a broader audience with the feel good anthem "Let the Good Times Roll" and up-beat ballads "The Beat" and "When a Heart Breaks." He also took his fans by surprise with his own take on Whitney Houston's "I Want to Dance with Somebody", a track he worked up as a special treat for fans before Houston's unexpected and untimely passing.
Following an October appearance at TU, Rector returned to the recording studio over the winter and is back on the road to keep his chops up with a headline tour that stops at Cain's Ballroom this Thursday night, May 9.
When catching up with Rector in advance of his stop in Tulsa, he shared that "Basically, the record is finished musically; now the packaging is being done."
In the meantime, Rector and his band are hitting the road again for a tour that he shared will likely last into late summer.
"We're only playing a couple of new songs right now," he said, "because I know people are saving their money to go to a show and we don't want to let them down. We'll be playing mostly songs from the last two albums, and it looks like late summer before the new album comes out.
"We're excited about the new songs and playing them, but at some level, there's only so much you can enjoy songs you've never heard before," he explained. "Songs become a part of your life and you make them part of your own soundtrack, so while we want to play the new material, we still want the fans to hear what they identify with."
While Rector is primarily sticking with material from the past two albums, he's still keeping it fresh by mixing things up. That includes a couple of new surprises, though fans shouldn't expect him to continue with "I Want To Dance," even though it was a big hit with the fans.
"This time around, the show is new and revamped and people know every time I come back I try to do something to make the show special," Rector said. "Basically, we had a great time with the Whitney Houston cover, but I want to make sure it doesn't become a matter of 'Yeah, now it's time for him to play that,' so I've worked up a couple of new covers and we're consciously moving forward from what we did with Whitney Houston."
While Rector continues to tour into the summer while looking forward to the new album release, he said the new album should be released in the second half of the summer.
"Most of the summer will be spent making sure to set it up properly," he said.
"There's a lot of record setup to be done and I just want to make sure we do it correctly. We'll probably do some additional video content for the website and travel a bit for the press stuff," Rector added.
In the meantime, he continues to connect with his fans as he wraps up his six-week spring "RecTour 2013" this week, with a stop at Cain's Ballroom on Thursday night, before wrapping up in Columbia, Mo. over the weekend.
"As always, I'm excited any time I get to come home," Rector shared. "This show is always one of the best of the tour, so we're really looking forward to it."
Doors open at 7pm this Thursday night at Cain's Ballroom, and tickets are still available for $22 at the door with Alpha Rev opening the show at 8pm.
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