For Chad Freeman, country music was love at first sight | Online features
Each chapter of Chad Freeman’s life is marked by the archetypal country musician. He bought his first pair of cowboy boots during his junior year of high school. Since then, he has worn them around the world.
“I still wear those boots in the barn to this day,” Freeman said.
He was introduced to country music on a road trip from Oregon to Seattle when he was 15. Narrative-focused, bleeding-heart lyricism drenched in the high-pitched shimmer of a semi-hollow Telecaster resonated within his soul. It was the start of a musical awakening; crush on first listen.
“My dad played Restless Heart, Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn nonstop. … It just happened to me,” Freeman said.
Shortly after, he bought his first guitar and began to learn to play. He began taking voice lessons during his senior year of college. The year after graduation, Freeman submitted an audition tape to the Country Music Showdown singing competition in his home state of Oregon.
“I’ve always been intrigued and scared by this. … When I graduated, I said, ‘OK, I’m sick of being scared.’ So, I sent in an audition tape, and they took me in. I got on and performed and did a horrible job, but it was an experience.
His first time on stage was Tectonic. After the contest, he sought any chance to build his stage presence, finding an opportunity to perform with a friend who had his own solo act.
“It went well, so we started making it a regular thing,” Freeman said. “It just started to snowball from there.”
He developed his talent and piece by piece fully realized his identity as a country music artist. He moved from his hometown of Eugene, Oregon to New York, where he tried to find success as an actor and musician. His self-discovery led him on an incredible journey in pursuit of his fervent passion for music.
Freeman’s secondary passion for the sport of golf kept him afloat while he worked making country music.
After playing competitively in high school and college, he worked as a golf professional in most places he lived. He moved to the Valley for a job at the Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale.
Soon after, he founded Chad Freeman and Redline in 2009. They had just started a regional tour when a music producer asked Freeman to play the role of cowboy in Village People. He passed through places like Australia, Sweden and France.
“I’ve always been quite comfortable, but it’s relaxed me a lot. I had never really thought of myself as a dancer, but there I was shaking my ass in front of thousands of people,” he said. “It makes things a little easier when you strap a guitar on your shoulder again.”
Every twist in Freeman’s life is an essential development in his story. Whether he’s working as a golf pro or disco dancing on stage between a cop and an Indian, he’s never forgotten his country roots. After four years of traveling the world, Freeman returned to Arizona and took over Chad Freeman and Redline.
Since then they have gone through a few variations but have now cemented a lineup consisting of guitarist Billy Grant, bassist Gary Rivers and drummer Chris Chambers. Redline has been Freeman’s full-time gig for nearly nine years.
The band can draw from a catalog of over 60 songs, as well as a full repertoire of original music from the 2013 album “Cowboy Heart.” Their set list ranges from Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps”, as well as hits from artists like Jason Aldean and Chris Stapleton.
“We try to mix classic country with modern country, while adding classic southern rock,” he said.
After playing for over 10 years, Redline has built a solid reputation with promoters across the country. In 2021, Redline played 281 shows.
“No wonder I’m tired,” Freeman said with a laugh.
Regionally, Chad Freeman and Redline have been chosen to play in numerous professional bullfighting events, as well as NASCAR races and awards festivals.
Freeman also hosts a jam session with other local musicians at Jolie’s Bar in Chandler on Thursdays.
“Sometimes we bring in another singer and I play the lead while they sing and then we switch. We have a violin player coming tomorrow night. It’s always been really cool,” he said.
Freeman has built an entire career around what he loves to do: bringing joy to people through the friendly essence of country music.
“I’ve been very lucky to do what I do,” Freeman said.
“The reality is that it’s a job like any other. There are good days and bad days, but being able to bring joy to people for a living? It’s not a bad way to be, and I wasn’t meant to sit at a desk.
If you are going to…
WHAT: Chad Freeman and Redline at Buckeye’s Concert in the Park
WHEN: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday March 12
OR: Tartesso Community Sports Park, Buckeye
COST: Free entrance
INFORMATION: 623-349-6000, buckeyeaz.gov