On Saturday, December 22nd, the House of Blues Orlando at Disney Springs played host to the 2018 edition Orlando Country Rocks. The emcee for the night was Sara Michaels from WPCV, 97 Country, in Lakeland. Her show, “On the Porch,” is an integral part of Central Florida’s country music landscape.
First on stage was Lake County’s Jeff Hurst. Jeff is a singer/songwriter who has written for and with Michael Ray among others in the business. Jeff started his set with great covers of Gary Allan’s “Songs About Rain” and “That Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins. He played his original, “Any Town Anywhere” before ending with Alabama’s ‘”Dixieland Delight.” Jeff is very talented, confident, and it shows that he truly loves to perform.
Next on the stage was Hunter Smith, who is also the lead singer for local band Jill’s Cashbox. After starting his set with Jason Aldean’s “When the Lights Come On,” Hunter launched into a couple of originals, “Give It Hell,” and “What We Do.” He played a mix of covers and originals with the crowd singing along. It was another great performance by Hunter.
It was finally time for the debut of Kenzie Wheeler, a 20 year old from Dover, Florida. Kenzie has been singing karaoke for years and has posted videos of himself on YouTube and Facebook. It was on Facebook that Sara Michaels found him and thought to herself, “There’s a bigger stage waiting for this kid and I’m going to help him get there.” She has done just that. Along with her contacts in Polk County’s music community, Kenzie has released a CD and a music video. Saturday night was the first of the ‘bigger stages’ for this young man.
Kenzie started his set singing Kane Brown’s “Lose It” and went right into his originals “Wildand Crazy,” and ‘”That’s How I Troll.” His medley of “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “The Dance,” and “In Case You Don’t Know” had the entire venue singing and dancing.
His duet of Luke Bryan’s “Home Alone Tonight” with Ella Carr was on point and kept the crowd going. After a few more covers and originals, Kenzie teamed up with Hunter Smith for Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried” to end the night.
After seeing this show, I know at least two things for certain; Jeff Hurst and Hunter Smith always put on a great show, and I witnessed the birth of a future Country music star. If you don’t get the chance to see Kenzie Wheeler in person, pick up a copy of his CD “Dover.” You will not regret it.
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