•Blaze joined Paisley for four cover songs on stage in Colorado Springs.
Brad Paisley is a cool guy. Really cool.
He’s a mega country music star and a near virtuoso when he’s playing guitar, which has earned him multiple Grammy awards and No. 1 hits. Yet, he’ll invite an unknown guitarist to jam with him on stage. He did it with Nicholas “Blaze” Baum at his Colorado Springs World Arena show earlier this month.
“That’s the thing everybody talks about. How cool a guy Brad is,” says Blaze, who played four songs with Paisley and his band as part of their national “Moonshine in the Trunk” tour. “He’s completely down to earth.”
The 21-year-old guitarist might be familiar to Fresnans. He used to live and perform in town.
Back in January, Blaze posted a video on his YouTube page for a song called “Brad Paisley.” In it he depicts the guitarist and Paisley (or Blaze in an oversized Paisley mask he made at FedEx) playing poker and video games, hanging out with showgirls and ... well, jamming. It’s a funny little rock-twinged country tune about a kid who grew up playing rock guitar and listening to bands like Kiss before discovering country music — specifically Brad Paisley.
It’s a fairly true story. Blaze remembers driving in his car, listening to a country radio station and hearing this amazing guitar player that he later learned was Paisley.
“His playing absolutely blew my mind,” Blaze says.
The video wasn’t meant to be a direct message, Blaze says, though the thought crossed his mind that Paisley might get wind of it.
“You gotta hope there’s a possibility he could see it,” he says.
Paisley did see it, and he was impressed enough to tweet: “Speechless. Obviously, a lot of work went into this. & yessir, I will jam with you. My local @guitarcenter or yours.”
If that had been the extent of things, Blaze would have been happy. That alone, had made his year, he says.
But Paisley held to his tweet, and after a month of talks with management, Blaze was scheduled to meet the singer at sound check before the Colorado Springs show. The pair would jam on Paisley’s new single “Perfect Storm.”
Only Paisley changed things up, last minute.
They’d actually be playing four songs, not one; they’d do Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy,” Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” and Paisley’s own hits “River Bank” and “Alcohol.”
Also, they’d bring him out during the show. Never mind the fact Blaze hadn’t rehearsed the songs and didn’t even know two of them. He learned them in the parking lot before the show by watching YouTube footage on his cellphone.
It’s not the first time the guitarist has had to learn songs on the fly. He plays in a Journey tribute band in Las Vegas and sits in with the rock band Sin City Sinners. He’s a pro. In fact, he had just learned 17 songs in less than a week.
“That was kind of like conditioning,” he says.
Still, there were some nerves.
Paisley isn’t some chump guitarist. He’s the real deal, and Blaze made sure he practiced prior to the meeting.
Then, there was the crowd.
Blaze may be used to being on stage, but he’d never played an arena. He had to break down each section of the arena in his mind. That way, he wasn’t playing to one huge crowd, rather several smaller ones.
Blaze played two songs and was invited back on stage for the Paisley’s final number and encore. Video of the show is already making the rounds. It was posted on Paisley’s website and picked up by magazines like Guitar Player and Guitar World.
Blaze is used to reading guitar magazines, not getting mentions in them in. The entire experience is a check off the old bucket list — a literal dream come true, Blaze says.
“I saw Kiss when was I was 5, and that was it,” he says. “I wanted to play arenas. That’s where I wanted to be.”
Thanks to Paisley, he did, even if just for the night.
That’s pretty damn cool.