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Rising Star: Lewis Brice comes home to play Columbia

Lewis Brice grew up in Sumter, thinking of Columbia as the big city. Now with his music career taking off, the man Rolling Stone calls one of the “10 new country artists you need to know” has seen many bigger ones, but doesn’t forget his roots.

Brice returned to Columbia Thursday to perform at Vista After 5 on the outdoor stage next to Music Farm and Tin Roof, and sat down with Midlands Anchor’s Grace DuBose before the show. He said his music is a reflection of where he comes from.

“My music comes from a Southern background,” he said, mentioning the Oak Ridge Boys and Linda Ronstadt as early influences, as well as singing in church choirs. “It’s Southern rock, country, a little bluesy influence, stuff like that.”

Brice said moving to Charleston helped expose him to a wider variety of music, bringing the rock and blues influences into his sound. “I’m a 90’s junkie: rock and roll, country, all of it,” he said.

His sound is catching on fast, with his first EP, released in July, gaining acclaim from critics and fans alike, especially for the song “Messin’ with My Mind.”

“On Spotify it’s over a million streams,” Brice said of the song. “I never thought my name and a million would be connected, but it is.”

Brice does not shy away from talking about his older brother, country star Lee Brice. Lee produced Lewis’ EP and the two write together often, but for all his admiration of and love for his brother, Lewis’ goal is not to imitate him.

“We’ve done a good job of keeping separate paths,” Lewis said. “Even though we’re friends and brothers, our music is noticeably different.”

Brice performed Thursday for a crowd including his parents and many hometown friends. As with every show, however, he stuck to his two pre-concert rituals: a shower and some Lay’s potato chips.

“I got to have my shower. It kind of puts me in my mindset whether I’m clean or not,” he said.  He added that the potato chip tradition has been followed by artists including Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire. “They say because Lay’s potato chips has that oil, it kind of coats your throat a little bit.”

Brice said he’s working on songs for his first full-length album, and while he and his brother have yet to write a song to sing together, “That time will come at some point.”

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