AUSTIN (KXAN) — Not only did Garth Brooks invite KXAN back to his dressing room at South by Southwest, but he also rolled up his sleeves and helped our crew roll in a cart full of camera equipment.
Minutes before, the county music legend announced a free show at Auditorium Shores Saturday night where tickets sold out in minutes.
So, when was his last performance in Austin?
“I think playing “The Drum” here actually when it was “The Drum,” said Brooks, referring to the Frank Erwin Center in the 1990s. “I think that was the last time… and you guys were sweet enough to let me go home and raise my babies.”
He stopped touring in 1998, retired in 2001, then started recording again and launched a comeback world tour in 2014.
“When you come back here, Austin is the home of the music and the heart, the content… this was the place that fed us when we couldn’t afford to feed ourselves, and a man can make a living in Texas alone just playing Country music,” said Brooks. “So this is the place to be if you’re playing country music, and this week especially if you’re playing any kind of music.”
For an artist who has sold more albums than Elvis and the Beatles, this is his first stop at SXSW, where he spoke on a panel about music in the digital world. Brooks has stuck to his guns on only selling entire albums online versus selling individual songs or “cherry picking” as he called it. Friday was also the first time his new hit single “Ask Me How I Know” was played on the radio. The world premiere aired on KASE 101 in Austin right before Brooks announced his SXSW show.
Even his old hits are making a comeback, and taking on a new life. In the last few weeks, Brooks’ team launched a social media campaign around his 1992 hit single “We Shall Be Free,” and released a never-before-seen music video. Brooks says according to ticket data from his current tour, 48-percent of the fans who have been showing up to watch him perform were either 10 years old or not even born yet when he first started touring.
“They’re showing up in numbers we’ve never seen, and I’m getting to play on a level I’ve never been on before so I feel very very lucky this late in my career to have this, but to have that generation in the crowd as well as your own generation that’s a pretty cool statement for the music.”