The old wooden stage in Hurricane Harry’s has seen a few legendary performances since its debut in the ‘90s.
From matchups of Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen to hosting Cody Johnson before he made it to Nashville, the bar and dancehall has been ear-marked as a milestone in the careers of Texas country music artists. With a reputation to uphold, it’s not uncommon to see Hurricane Harry’s pull out all the stops to ensure a rowdy crowd. Valentine’s Day weekend is sure to be no different.
Parker McCollum and opener Grant Gilbert will roll into College Station on Feb. 14 to play for a sold-out crowd at Hurricane Harry’s. After selling out the venue only weeks after announcing the show, the venue catered to McCollum’s fans by announcing a second date on Feb. 15, this time with Hayden Baker kicking the night off.
Fresh off three dates on Miranda Lambert’s “Wildcard” tour and with a new single out called “Pretty Heart” teasing for the release of a new record. McCollum said even with the continued growth of his career, he always finds himself making the trip back to College Station.
“Venues like Hurricane Harry’s are one of a kind,” McCollum said. “To be able to come to places like this and do two nights in a row is so special. There’s always so much energy and so many people who have been supporting me and my music since I started.”
With several Hurricane Harry’s performances notched into his belt, McCollum said he isn’t afraid of the kind of intimacy the venue is known for.
“You can see everyone’s faces and know they’re having a great time,” McCollum said. “I want everyone to feel like they came out and had a great time with a room full of new friends and made some memories.”
This weekend’s performance will mark the fourth time Texas Tech graduate Grant Gilbert has taken the Hurricane Harry’s stage. He said the venue is one of his all-time favorite places to perform.
“I love just getting to hang out with the people in the crowd, going up to the merch booth selling t-shirts and having drinks with everyone,” Gilbert said. “I mean, I’ve even judged Halloween costume contests at Harry’s. I love it there.”
Gilbert has opened for Stoney LaRue, Turnpike Troubadours and the Josh Abbott Band. Although this isn’t his first run-in with McCollum and his crew, Gilbert said he will always admire the way he and his band are treated by the rising star, no matter the size or scale of the show they’re playing.
“He’s always done such a great job of making sure me and my band are taken care of,” Gilbert said. “We get to hang out for a little bit after the show and everything, but I just like taking notes from the way he performs and the way he works the crowd and entertains.”
The Aggieland venue has allowed Gilbert to perform with the artists he grew up loving. Last time he played at the venue, Gilbert got to mark “Play with Pat Green” off of his bucket list.
“I grew up a huge Pat Green fan,” Gilbert said. “All of those guys we get to open up for, we’re still the young guys for them. But playing with those bands, it’s just as fun for me to get to watch the shows as it is to play them.”
A frequent Hurricane Harry’s patron, business management senior Hayden Baker is getting the opportunity to play the scuffed and scarred stage instead of using it as just a dance floor.
“Harry’s is such a great environment for music,” Baker said. “I remember being there on a Thursday night back in the fall, just doing some dancing with my buddy. I was standing up on the stage thinking about how cool it would be to get to play up there, and now look where we are.”
Baker and his band are planning on performing seven of the 10 songs currently planned for his upcoming full-length album, with songs like “How Many Beers” and “How It Used to Be” also on the setlist. Thankful for the gig he’s been given, Baker said he wants to use his music to connect with at least one person in the crowd Saturday night.
“That’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Baker said. “When someone comes up to you after a show and says, ‘Hey man, that song you sang about that one thing, that one really hit me.’ That’s what you do this for. That’s what you write these songs for.”