By Brenna Eller
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Those who attended the Frank Ray and Cooper Alan concert on Sept. 12 had quite the party with the two country musicians.
Frank Ray, bilingual Texas chart-topping country artist from New Mexico, is well known for hit songs, “Country’d Look Good on You” and “Somebody Else’s Whiskey.” Something interesting about Ray is that he’s a former police officer, which you don’t hear too often in musicians’ backstories.
At the beginning of the concert, he thanked all of the former and current police officers as well as any veterans and military personnel in the crowd.
Throughout his performance, Ray had the audience dancing to classic country, new country and a little bit of Latin music too.
He played songs the crowd started singing along to such as “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, “Smooth” by Santana, and “Fishing In The Dark” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Ray has only been a full-time musician for a few years. He shared that his first album, Frank Ray was recently released in July. It’s available on all streaming platforms.
TikTok and social media star Cooper Alan, who has an uncanny ability to create mashups on the fly, gave his appreciation for all of the fans who bought tickets for the concert on Tuesday night when most had to work the next day.
Alan got popular through social media via TikTok for his singing and his ability to mashup songs at a rapid pace. During the concert Tuesday night, he asked the audience for suggestions of random artists. They gave answers varying all over the place from George Straight to Cher.
After compiling a very long list, Alan’s band played at a rhythm that worked well enough for him to keep rolling from one song into the next and he sang recognizable songs from each of the artists. The mashup was at least 12 minutes for reference of how many songs he fit in.
Alan is mostly known for his comedic and more laid-back songs, but he got a request to play one of his more heartfelt and sorrowful songs about grief after the loss of a loved one.
“We all lose people that we love, we all look around us and we all see people that are gone too soon or lived an incredible life and are gone,” Alan said. “I really do believe that music is part of that healing process and part of getting us all through it. It’s music and it’s other people. It’s having other people’s back.”
Alan said if his song, “Never Not Remember You” has helped anybody in the crowd heal, whether it’s one person or a thousand people, then he and the others who worked on the song did their job.
During the concert, Alan saw a fan holding a sign up that said, “I Can’t Dance, but I Can Sing.” One of Alan’s well-known songs is called “Can’t Dance,” and he waited until a good time in the show to bring the fan up on stage to hear him sing.
Alan asked the fan what song he wanted to sing, and he chose “Never Not Remember You.” The boy was a little nervous at first, but Alan sang the first part of the chorus, which goes, “So I’ll cry ’cause it’s over, and smile because we had you,” then the boy joined in and Alan backed off to let him sing on his own and hyped him up to the crowd who cheered the boy on and he kept singing the rest of the chorus as he gained confidence. When he was done, Alan hugged the fan and started chanting his name to the crowd until they chanted it too.
According to Alan, in just a few years, he has gone from playing his music in honky-tonk bars in Nashville and having only a few supporters to now playing at places like the Kansas State Fair, and he said he wouldn’t have believed it back then where he is now.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Alan said,” All through middle school, all through high school, all through college.”
Alan said even though it was mainly their parents supporting and listening to their music that early on, they kept putting out music and kept on trucking. Alan later moved to Nashville after graduating college and he said he really took a beating from the music industry and heard he wasn’t good enough a lot.
“We didn’t want to stop working, and so in 2020 an app called TikTok comes along,” Alan said.
For the first time, Alan said he and his friends, other musicians like himself who struggled to get their music to the right people (Alexandra Kay, Thomas Mac, Priscilla Block and Chase Matthew) were able to share their music on the app with people who actually cared about it.
Alan said because of his fans he gets to live out his dreams and go around to awesome towns and hangout with awesome people.
“We get to do this, and it’s owed to absolutely nobody but to you all,” Alan said.
Alan commented on the state of Kansas and how it’s one of his favorite places to visit. He talked about how nice the people who helped put his show together at the fair were and said they even got him a cake to celebrate his bachelor party since he’s about to get married.
Through the night he kept reminding the crowd that it was his last concert as a single man and the last concert he would be playing this month. And instead of waiting for an encore after the show, he came back out for one more song and said because it was his last show before he got married and he had extra time, he would play another one anyway.
On Wednesday night, Christian musicians, Matthew West and Anne Wilson performed at the Nex-Tech Grandstands. Tonight, returning to the Kansas State Fair is the classic rocker group Hairball, who will be performing at 7:30 p.m.