Brad Paisley graciously allowed E!’s ‘Opening Act’ reality show to use that very slot on the Mountain View, California date of his tour. Singer Tanner Patrick auditioned with Lady Antebellum‘s ‘Need You Now’ in order to earn the coveted opening position. It felt like the aspiring singer was happy covering a pretty pop song that also happened to be a country song, as opposed to his desire to play pop-country. By the end of the episode, he had a renewed appreciation for the genre.

Overall, Patrick was a conundrum for this tour date, since he was decidedly more pop than country. Given that fact, Martina McBride — who is part of the show’s panel of judges that helps pick talent — pointed out that Paisley’s hardcore fans would sniff out that his opening act was not country. The show’s producers were up for the challenge and the risk of putting their charge in front of Paisley’s crowd.

Patrick’s life story is the stuff a country music song is made of, however. He has diabetes and has to check his blood sugar each time he eats. He once dropped to 120 lbs. and had a lung collapse during a 2009 show with his band. While in recovery, his band decided to go to college, so he kept working solo. He suffered a second collapsed organ, too.

Therefore, the Texan knows a thing or two about triumphing over odds — which is why the country genre would embrace him and why we had a good feeling about him. The producers astutely alerted Tanner to the fact that the pop-country market is lacking a strong male voice, and it’s a void he could fill.

Paisley gifted his opening act with a Fender guitar, which was incredibly generous, and blew Tanner Patrick away. Paisley offered tips on how to tweak the guitar like a car. “Even thought it was a gift, tear that thing apart and do what you want to it,” Paisley said. The veteran performer and country legend also assured Patrick that the country audience can be the kindest, and that a big crowd is easier than a small one. Everyone there as the same goal and that’s to have a good time.

After a brief bout of pre-performance sickness, Patrick took the stage and won the crowd over. He also got to perform with Paisley during ‘Alcohol,’ and said Paisley helped him to love country music.

What a good mentor Paisley was to Patrick! Perhaps he’d be right for that ‘American Idol’ judge’s gig?

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