Texas country singer-songwriter Sam Riggs was riding a wave of popularity when he performed in September at Wild West Waco, and in the six months since then that wave has swelled even higher.
Riggs returns to Waco for a Friday night concert at The Backyard, a month after his latest album, “Breathless,” debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and No. 3 on the iTunes Country chart behind hot country artists Chris Stapleton and Sam Hunt. “The Lucky Ones,” the first single, has won both critical praise and radio airplay.
It’s the first album on his new label Deep Creek Records, and because both album and label are close to his heart, fan reaction has been gratifying.
“The initial response on ‘Breathless’ was unreal. It left me speechless,” he said in a recent phone interview from Conroe. “Deep Creek Records is the record label I always wanted to start and, legally, have to have to retain freedom and retain integrity as a writer and performer. (“Breathless”) was my way of saying, ‘This is me.’ ”
Riggs’ fans pushed off the project by supporting a Kickstarter project to fund the album, which made its chart-splashing debut even more satisfying. It follows his first album, “Outrun the Sun,” which helped earn national attention for the Florida native, who has made Austin his home base for years. The music video for “When the Lights Go Out” placed second in CMT’s “Top 5 Music Videos of 2013,” while his song “Collide” was included in the soundtrack for the ABC television series “Nashville.” “Outrun the Sun” also scored three Top 10 hits on the now-defunct Texas Music Chart.
“Breathless,” however, wasn’t created to make lighting strike again in the same place. “It came together on its own and is about addiction, all kinds of addiction. It’s about people who need stimulation, who enjoy pushing it to the edge. That’s me in a nutshell,” he said.
While Riggs’ songs consistently find their way to music charts, he said he’s not one to keep track that way, discounting the recent end of the Texas Music Chart by its creators. Building rapport with fans and radio stations means more to him, he said. “I’ve never had a No. 1,” he said.
The singer-songwriter, who worked on his craft early in his career with Texas songwriting icon Ray Wylie Hubbard, comes to Waco in a March filled with Texas dates. His touring expands to Montana and the Midwest next month, but takes a geographic leap in the fall when he travels to the United Kingdom.
He fronts a five-man band, the Night People, and although he confesses he’s “a sucker for a sweaty indoor show,” he says outdoor concerts have their own energy and dynamic due to the bigger crowds they allow.
“They can be awesome,” he said.
Friday’s concert will feature the band’s new show, although it won’t include an appearance by the University of North Texas drum line, which has a cameo in his “The Lucky Ones” music video, a throwback to Riggs’ high school band days.
Riggs also will meet with fans earlier in the afternoon, signing copies of his albums at 4 p.m. at Hastings, 5526 Bosque Blvd.